Al Park recently rejoined FTI Consulting following an 11-year run working in senior, global roles at Navigant and Control Risks. He was formerly a Managing Director within the firm and is now a Senior Managing Director with a focus on data risk and compliance solutions. In this Q&A, he talks about the compliance challenges he’s seeing among clients, how technology is positioned to help and why he decided to return to the firm after more than a decade.
Al, it’s great to have you at FTI Consulting again and see your risk and compliance expertise brought to the Technology segment. Will you please share the highlights from your background as they relate to your new role?
Thank you, I’m very happy to be back. Over my 20 years working in litigation and investigations, now having worked extensively internationally the last 10 years, I have been advising global clients, facing concurrent litigation and regulatory inquiries happening in different countries at the same time. What I have found is that there are many common needs our clients have when responding to these critical events and matters, relating to civil litigation that also has simultaneous criminal implications. And it can cut across all sectors. I’ve increasingly found that relying on forensic computer analyses, using data analytics across business records data and employing advanced e-discovery tools in analyzing electronic communications are all needed to address the full scale of the problem.
Additionally, many of my engagements have also surrounded compliance issues and how to thwart the next big problem that remains undetected. I’ve seen an increasing incidence of multinational organizations in need of advising on how to apply business intelligence, data management and data analytics best practices in enhancing their compliance effectiveness and improving regulatory reporting and visibility. I have seen that you need experts to understand new regulatory requirements but also draw in technology specialists who instill governance and best practices across people and process, and with a key reliance on technology. The role of technology is not only to provide automation but also promote advanced intelligent thinking when it comes to sifting through extensive amounts of data.
The fact that you bring tremendous experience in compliance is particularly relevant right now considering that numerous recent surveys have indicated corporate leaders and in-house counsel are increasingly worried about regulatory compliance and ramping enforcement. You’ve mentioned that developing new compliance solutions will be one of your key focus areas within FTI Technology. Can you share more about the drivers behind that?
The global risk landscape has shifted dramatically, and that’s changed how organizations must address compliance. It used to be that compliance was owned by one group and focused solely on establishing policies and training employees on related procedures, while the implementation of new tools and systems was handled by a wholly separate group in IT. But now, with new security risks, data privacy laws, stricter worldwide regulatory enforcement and a growing data footprint, compliance officers and legal departments are expected to monitor for risk and provide assurance of compliance across communications, systems and instances of sensitive data. Today’s modern world is increasingly susceptible to new risks and emerging threats, and compliance has to be cross-discipline and cross-functional to proactively mitigate and often monitor for these risks to the entire organization.
Increased globalization is another driver, because as an organization, especially one in a highly regulated industry, expands across borders, it gets hard to understand if all of its subsidiaries and third-parties are operating within the bounds of company policies. Also, alongside the growing cross-jurisdictional nature of business, regulatory agencies are also becoming more coordinated and interconnected, which adds to the scope and reach of the enforcement levers an organization may need to contend with.
Let’s dig into this a bit more. How will your work at FTI Technology help address these growing challenges? What’s your vision for how FTI Technology’s new compliance solutions will come to fruition?
First, organizations need support from experts that can offer global reach and localized expertise to understand the regulatory nuances in each jurisdiction for activities such as compliance monitoring, diligence requests, and handling investigations. They also need analytics to help find and understand key information within their large, dispersed data stores, but implementing an effective advanced analytics solution at scale is no simple feat. Most organizations simply don’t have the internal resources or specialization to be able to do it on their own.
FTI Technology and our colleagues across other FTI Consulting segments are well positioned to bridge these gaps and solve the issues that fall between policy development and technology usage. For example, we can help our clients leverage technology to measure the ongoing effectiveness of their compliance programs, so they are equipped with documentation that shows the steps they have taken when a regulator comes calling. By example, the work FTI is doing in the antitrust space, using advanced tools paired with highly skilled document review experts is already showing demonstrable results. Other possible use cases include post-acquisition forensic reviews to identify and remediate failures in controls (e.g., anti-bribery and anti-corruption issues). Or deploying scalable tools that can proactively escalate potential red flags in communications and identify potential conflicts between a global organization’s data storage and processing procedures and its data privacy obligations.
Aside from the compliance use cases for analytics, are there any other technology advancements you’re keeping an eye on right now?
Some of the AI and predictive analytics tools that have matured in recent years are making a real impact in e-discovery, investigations and compliance matters. In addition to their core applications, they can integrate with other platforms to help streamline what used to be siloed processes and can be used in risk modeling to help organizations benchmark their governance and compliance programs. I’m excited about these possibilities and how our experts can leverage these tools used to enrich datasets and advise our clients in anticipating and mitigating further legal and regulatory risks around the globe.
You’ve mentioned FTI Technology’s unique position as a provider with both global reach and local expertise in a couple of contexts throughout this discussion. Is this part of why you returned to the firm? Given your unique perspective of coming full circle after more than a decade at other organizations, what are your thoughts on how we stand out?
Yes, the global footprint is definitely a differentiator and was part of my decision to return. It’s become abundantly clear to me that clients need multinational support. FTI Consulting is the preeminent global provider and at the same time has a robust team with the domain expertise needed to handle complex technology issues. More, in addition to this reach and expertise, FTI Technology is one of the few providers that consistently maintains a reputation of trust and confidence in even the most high-stakes and complicated matters.
I also appreciate how the firm has become more people centric and diverse in recent years. The culture remains strong and increasingly focused on making sure everyone feels engaged, supported and balanced so they stay with us over the long term.
Absolutely, culture has become more important than ever in the current environment. What aspects of company culture are most important to you?
Diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) and the priority of looking after our people are all very important to me. A lot of companies try to focus on DIB or claim to prioritize it, but the programs need to be real and proven to deliver for everyone. Leaders need to work for these initiatives and stay invested as stakeholders to ensure employees have balance, and diverse candidates are recruited and given the support they need to thrive. I’m passionate about these issues and plan to be an active participant in forwarding the progress our firm has already made in these areas.
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.