Q&A: Lane Spears Combines Expertise in Compliance and Technical Solution Development to Help Clients Reduce Risk
Lane Spears recently joined FTI Technology as a Managing Director within the Information Governance, Privacy & Security (IGP&S) practice. With more than 20 years in consulting, his expertise spans digital forensics, e-discovery, financial investigations and regulatory compliance. We spoke with him about the role he will play in growing the segment’s services and solutions in these and other key risk areas.
Lane, it’s great to have you here. Can you talk about your background prior to joining FTI Technology?
I’ve worked across a broad range of event-driven litigation and dispute matters, information governance and compliance engagements. Much of my work has specialized in anomaly analytics and reporting for forensic investigations, leveraging AI-powered entity resolution solutions for disputes and developing and implementing e-discovery strategies for multi-jurisdictional corporate investigations. Prior to joining FTI, I was the practice leader for data analytics, fraud and forensic recovery, at a global tax consultancy. I’ve also held management positions in analytic and forensic technology groups at Big 4 firms, focusing on discovery, financial investigations and advanced data analytics such as proactive fraud detection systems for compliance monitoring. In past engagements, I’ve worked with numerous federal government clients and consider that an area of opportunity I’d like to explore with our teams here.
Do you have any specific plans for what types of engagements you plan to focus on in your new role?
There’s a lot of interest right now in compliance and data management solutions. In previous roles, I led numerous product road mapping efforts in this area and helped clients create operationalized, repeatable methodologies for compliance purposes. I plan to leverage that experience to build new compliance offerings as our practice and expertise in this area continues to expand. Beyond supporting the development of specific compliance solutions, I’m collaborating with colleagues across the IGP&S practice to deliver data privacy solutions including helping clients classify personal data and build readiness for existing and new data privacy requirements.
You’ve worked with a wide range of consulting firms, from boutiques to the Big 4. What makes FTI different?
There aren’t a lot of consulting firms with a level of technical expertise that can compare to the team here. Our people are technologists in addition to being experts in regulations, document review, data privacy best practices, information governance and investigations. The segment’s approach of addressing an array of data-related risks through the application of sophisticated technology is unique, and I felt it was a perfect fit for my background and where I’d like to continue to grow my consulting expertise. Moreover, we can collaborate with experts in FTI Consulting’s additional segments to better support clients. I look forward to working with our colleagues across the firm, particularly the Data & Analytics practice within the Forensic & Litigation Consulting segment, which provides many services that are complementary to what we do in Technology.
What do you think are the biggest or most persistent data-related challenges facing clients today?
I agree with the popular opinion across our teams that, near-term, the increasing variety and volume of emerging data sources present the biggest challenge. This can span how team collaboration platforms complicate information governance procedures, the sheer volume of data that must be processed in e-discovery or the many steps investigators must take to access and collect data within chat applications. And there are new data sources and subsequent challenges coming up every day.
The reality is that there will continue to be more and more data, which will require organizations to keep evolving the way they process, categorize, and manage their data. Dealing with this will require solutions on multiple fronts, including governance programs that enable data minimization and more effective and nimble tools that can filter massive volumes of varied data without losing relevance or context. AI and analytics will become increasingly imperative to helping teams conduct early data assessments and move away from reviewing data that doesn’t need to be reviewed.
Can you share any anecdotes from a particularly interesting or challenging client matter that is relevant to the work you’re doing here?
The work I’ve done in building anomaly detection tools and leveraging analytics to identify signs of fraud or other suspicious activity within structured data is widely applicable for governance, risk and compliance use cases.
Also, for an investigation or compliance concern, we are doing some interesting work in automatically inferring and fully resolving entities across both structured and unstructured data. In this way, we can take entities identified from email and chat, such as places, people, organizations or products, and relate them directly to the same entities from the company’s systems, such as financial transaction holders or vendors and customers. Tying these two together provides greater insight with a full view of the entity’s or transaction owner’s activity.
My previous and current client engagements have shown me again and again that the possibilities for the application of advanced data analytics are endless. And it’s also endlessly interesting to me. So, I’m looking forward to building on that and working with clients to apply analytics to tough problems and completely novel use cases.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.