Shortly after joining FTI Consulting to lead the Forensic & Litigation Consulting segment in EMEA last year, Karen Briggs had her role expanded to oversee the Technology segment in EMEA. In this dual role of heading two of the firm's significant segments in the region, Karen has focused on the synergies between practices to improve client outcomes. During a recent video chat, we asked about her view of the EMEA Technology practice and how she leads her teams through today’s most pressing challenges. This post is part one of a two part series detailing our Q&A.
Karen, you have an interesting background in the intersections between accounting, forensics and investigations. Can you share your experience and what led you to your current role at FTI Consulting?
I come from a maths family and started as a mathematician doing some computer programming in Fortran and COBOL. I trained to be an accountant early in my career and was very quickly drawn to complex international regulatory and investigatory matters. For more than 30 years, I've worked in this space, helping clients navigate cases in which something has gone wrong, and they need to quickly determine what's happened, course correct and implement controls to prevent it from happening again.
In most matters, the marriage between investigations and technology, and the opportunity to drive better outcomes with technology, have always been clear to me. I’ve always approached investigations with the strategy of closely linking investigators with technologists, so the opportunity to head both the Forensic & Litigation Consulting (FLC) and Technology segments in EMEA was a natural fit for my approach to client service.
What are the benefits of having a single leader over EMEA’s FLC and Technology segments?
Technology enhances processes and provides investigators with a more efficient way to make sense of mass amounts of data. There are many common threads between the core capabilities and expertise in our FLC and Technology segments. Technology is often critical in establishing the missing link needed to solve a problem. Given the increasing volume of data and international flow of information and funds, technology really should be at the forefront of how we help clients address their risk now and in the future. It is pretty essential, and when we throw technology at an issue, supported by our experts' brain trust, that is when we see the most effective outcomes and innovation.
FTI Consulting’s recent Resilience Barometer surfaced many issues and concerns among the G20 right now. These spanned loss of productivity, security, privacy, increased regulation, digitalisation and ESG issues. How do these align with what you’re seeing among FTI’s clients? What are some examples of how FTI’s EMEA teams are responding to these challenges?
It's fascinating to see that the majority of organisations are experiencing increasing concerns around corruption and fraud as well as increased regulatory focus. Not surprisingly, they are also experiencing or preparing for growing investigations. Misconduct has always been an issue, but even more so in the current climate, where the pandemic has spurred new financial pressures and disputes over health, safety, data privacy, IP theft and contractual obligations.
I believe the key to addressing these issues will be improving how technology is applied to achieve better outcomes. Analytics and AI can provide essential insights into massive swaths of data and inform organisations of when things have gone wrong, make the relevant connections and determine how to get things right. We’re helping our clients tool up their technology and strategies to recognise red flags and improve efficiencies around their investigations and compliance tools and workflows. Another layer of this is implementing more vigorous checks and balances for monitoring suspicious behaviour and the data insights generated from their systems.
The Resilience Barometer offers organisations a way to benchmark their exposures and challenges against what's going on in their broader industry. Every business is suffering in unique ways, and this study helps leaders understand what they should be thinking about and doing in the wake of the pandemic.
From a Technology segment perspective, what do you see as the most significant growth areas in EMEA?
The investigations space is a big one. There is a lot of room for our teams to help clients learn to use technology to manage the uptick in investigations. Data privacy is another area where we are seeing a lot more activity and we're growing quickly. The whole landscape around data protection regulations has accelerated a lot, and clients realise the severity of the risk if they don't get it right. Right now, our Information Governance, Privacy & Security practice is expanding rapidly in EMEA, and we've recently added experts to our teams in Australia, Ireland, the Middle East, the U.K and other regions.