The Ability to Be Available

The specialty of forensic accounting is not only unpredictable as far as anticipating future workloads, but it is also most challenging in relation to the availability of time.

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It is most challenging in relation to the availability of time that can be dedicated to other areas—networking, administrative duties, personal time and maintaining an effective social presence. I have been reflecting on this as some major cases have demanded my time and focus over the past several months. Because of this, the time that has elapsed since my latest blog lends itself to its own topic—as I briefly come up for air.

In the traditional areas of accounting, including financial statement auditing, tax preparation and bookkeeping, there is what I consider a luxury in being able to schedule engagements weeks, months, or even a year in advance. Deadlines are known and necessary tasks can be scheduled early enough to meet staff, client and regulatory calendars. Our firm even has full-time, dedicated scheduling staff for those areas of practice, who make sure that all of our clients are serviced to the highest of standards and within the appropriate timelines. In the world of forensic accounting, valuation and litigation support, however, this is a luxury that we, as experts, accept as being mostly unrealistic.

It is expected that when a call comes in to the forensic and litigation support team, the engagement needs to begin immediately. Whether it is that an attorney is in the middle of a case and has just determined that the services of an expert are necessary or required, or that an organization has just learned of an internal embezzlement or impropriety, the engagement inevitably needs to start yesterday. If the initial conversation results in finding out that our services don’t need to begin until next month…then that’s just a bonus. Because of this, it is important that a forensic accountant and expert be prepared to accept such challenges with full confidence that the job can be started and completed in a timely and efficient manner, with the highest level of quality, to the utmost satisfaction of the client.   

Forensic accountants and experts require the flexibility and stress tolerance to handle such requests. Time management, organizational skills, prioritization of talent and a laser-like focus are key character traits in this discipline. If an attorney or client learns that you are not available or cannot accommodate an immediate timeline, the opportunity may be lost and future opportunities from those sources may never return. On the other hand, if you can accommodate and step up to the plate, with little or no notice, and provide the highest level of communication and service in a timely manner, you can develop the reputation as the “go-to” expert and you have gained a source of business referrals for life...well, as long as you continue to remain available, that is.

The ability to be available is a balancing act, which requires one to be flexible while remaining realistic. Do you have the appropriate time and expertise/experience to take on the case in the most effective and efficient manner? Do you have the resources, staff and commitment to dive in right away and perform at epic levels? If not, are you prepared to admit to your limitations and offer an alternative to the requesting party? These are the characteristics that separate those that provide such services as a committed specialty and those who dabble as opportunities happen to pop up.

So while I’m able and in the mindset…I am preparing a blog surplus for future weeks…writing, yet staying available…until the phone rings…soon.

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