Richard Abbey is “a very strong forensic accountant”, commended for his excellence when it comes to high-value financial investigations.
Richard Abbey leads EY’s forensic and integrity services practice in the UK, and also sits on the firm’s global forensic leadership team. He has over 30 years of forensic accounting and investigations experience. Richard has a particular focus on complex fraud investigations, multi-jurisdiction corruption investigations, and international asset tracing engagements. He has operated in over 25 jurisdictions. More recently Richard has been working with a number of high-net-worth private clients helping to investigate and mitigate potential reputational issues.
What do you enjoy most about forensic accountancy practice?
The variety of our work. Everyday brings a new problem, a new challenge and a new client.
What qualities do you believe makes a successful forensic accountant?
Making the complex simple - the ability to digest large quantities of facts and data and turn them into a concise narrative to provide simple explanations. The ability to think three steps ahead and identify the questions that need to be asked to solve the puzzle. Level headed and being easy to work with - often you will be guiding clients through one of the most stressful times they have experienced.
What are the biggest challenges for forensic accountants with the increasing range and use of digital assets? How do you navigate these challenges?
The increasing range and use of digital assets means an increasing footprint is left across all activities and transactions – this is a huge advantage for a forensic accountant. The challenge is how best to secure and analyse the digital footprints. This means successful forensic accountants increasingly rely on technology support both in terms of hardware and software but also from data engineers and scientists.
As an expert who has provided testimony in the UK, Ireland and Singapore, what challenges have you encountered when testifying across different jurisdictions and how have you overcome them?
As I am more often than not providing evidence of fact, I follow the same basic principles regardless of jurisdiction – stick to the facts, provide concise explanations and set out the narrative in a simple-to-follow format and avoid jargon or overly technical terms wherever possible.
With the rapid advancement of AI capabilities, how do you believe forensic accountants can best leverage this new technology to enhance their work on investigations?
As I previously mentioned – digital assets create an increasingly large lake from which to fish for the relevant information. Moving forward, AI will provide an accelerated ability to rapidly mine data sets for trends, transactions and unusual activity.
How does EY distinguish itself from the competition?
Our truly global footprint, our extensive investment in technology, our access to deep industry and sector expertise and our reputation for trust and integrity.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I have been fortunate to work with so many smart people in my career, all of whom have given me advice as my career developed. The best advice is never be afraid to ask or think you always have the answer, as you never stop learning.