By Krystal Ramirez, Director, Claire Vinocur, Associate Director and Andrea Tang, Senior Associate, Forward Risk and Intelligence

Traditionally, investigative due diligence and political opposition research have been considered separate fields. While both can be considered branches of risk advisory work, rarely have the twain explicitly met in the middle – which is surprising, given the tremendous overlap between these highly complementary subfields. Ultimately, the currency of both political campaigns and proxy contests is the notion of influence. While traditional political campaigns aim to influence voters, proxy contests similarly influence shareholders. Lobbying firms, in turn, influence decision-makers. In all three cases, professional researchers provide the ammunition behind that influence, using the power of carefully unearthed information.

As a result, experienced due diligence analysts and opposition researchers share elements of tradecraft including familiarity with database-driven research, comfort and creativity working with open-source intelligence, and high levels of attention to detail on tight, high-stakes deadlines. As Forward Risk partner Brendan Foo, director Krystal Ramirez, and associate director Claire Vinocur noted in a recent Directors & Boards article, “The Politics of Proxy Contests,” corporate proxy contests in particular bear remarkable similarities to political elections – to such an extent that the article’s authors propose that those hunting for success in a proxy contest may take valuable lessons from politics.

As they point out, in both realms, “winning candidates tend to be those who have researched themselves and their audience, built and engaged with a coalition of constituent groups and power brokers, and articulated a message to prospective voters that encourages them to turn out to vote.” In other words, investigative due diligence and political opposition research have far more in common than not.

Commercial Due Diligence Versus Political Oppo: What’s the Difference?

So, if commercial due diligence and political opposition research draw on such similar skill sets, where does the difference lie? Primarily, their immediate context.

Despite the similarities in execution, we must keep in mind that findings in these two fields are tailored for fundamentally different audiences. An oppo researcher will customize their reporting to suit the needs of campaign’s communications and digital teams. Meanwhile, an investigator conducting research for a private sector due diligence project will aim to arm an investor with actionable business intelligence.

Lobbying firms are among the few client types that occupy something of a sweet spot between the public and private sectors. Although technically a private entity, the average lobbying firm builds its business model off an ability to sway political decision-making through the effective use of well-substantiated research and persuasion. In this sense, a lobbying firm has a foot apiece in two worlds: one strictly commercial, and one in the government sector. As government affairs-focused organizations, a knowledge of political campaigns and hot-button policy issues is crucial. However, unlike a political campaign itself, a lobbying firm’s lifeblood flows through its ability to generate commercial revenue.

Addressing the Unique Needs of the Modern Lobbying Firm

So, given that it treads a line between the public and private sector, where should a lobbying firm go to address its unique needs: the veteran oppo researchers with their fluency in government affairs, or the commercial due diligence outfit equipped with the resources and understanding of financial clients who do business with lobbyists? The answer, in an ideal world, is both.

While the average risk advisory firm may not have always focused traditionally on targeting campaign staff for their recruiting efforts, it’s not a bad idea. A seasoned oppo researcher’s skill set includes not only subject matter expertise in local and national political landscapes, but also a carefully-honed understanding of the right questions to ask. When placed alongside a commercial investigator’s business intelligence savvy, the risk advisory firm makes for a potent combination for supporting a lobbyist’s needs – particularly when it comes to building well-substantiated policy arguments.

Simply hiring the right mix of oppo and commercial intelligence professionals isn’t enough, however – the firm must have the know-how to combine their skills in an effective interdisciplinary manner. An excellent example of this is the application of stakeholder mapping. Traditionally a commercial intelligence subfield, a researcher versed in stakeholder mapping can essentially apply this so-called commercial intelligence “playbook” to a government affairs case. By consulting with a good opposition researcher on the same team, the stakeholder mapping expert can determine the specific pain points of who to lobby, and how.

Another example is the use of source inquiries. When public records alone do not suffice, a well-equipped risk advisory firm may employ a source inquiries expert to interview select individuals who may have personal contact with a subject of interest. Combined with oppo know-how, this additional research toolkit can pay tremendous dividends in the lobbying world, where accessing otherwise difficult-to-find reputational information is paramount.

Evidence of Hybrid Research Skills in Action

Countless examples illustrate the proof in the pudding regarding the success of an investigations firm that effectively employs researchers from both oppo and commercial intelligence backgrounds.

In one case, a government affairs firm required assistance for a client facing harassment from a political opponent in a foreign country. Combining the research know-how of investigators from both opposition research and traditional commercial intelligence backgrounds, Forward Risk’s investigative team was able to launch a deep dive investigation into local-language media and public records in several countries that ultimately uncovered a decades-long track record of involvement in organized crime, money laundering, and public corruption. Forward Risk developed both a detailed investigative report and a set of concise talking points to assist the government affairs firm in its discussions with key members of Congress.

In another case, a client requested that Forward Risk provide background information regarding several nominees for a major federal government position. The government agency in question held significant influence over potential business opportunities for the client due to the client’s investments in the industry. As a result, the client was interested in the shortlist of nominees for the position of agency chair.

Accordingly, Forward Risk leveraged a combination of traditional due diligence know-how and political vetting strategies in order to obtain the necessary information. In particular, Forward Risk’s team carefully identified the subjects’ views on specific policy areas most likely to impact the client’s investments in the industry area. As a result, the client was armed with information that would enable them to lobby for the nominee most beneficial to their business interests.

Krystal Ramirez is a Director, Claire Vinocur is an Associate Director and Andrea Tang is a Senior Associate at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By Daniel Greenberg, Partner, Forward Risk and Intelligence

The phrases “open source” and “public record” are sometimes mistaken for “easy to find.” While it’s true that open source records are largely accessible to anyone, locating the relevant facts can be akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Many research projects necessitate the services of trained and experienced professionals. This applies especially for research that is investigative, requiring a systematic approach to discovering and exposing hidden facts.

This truth is not always clear. Lawyers, investors, and other white-collar professionals who occasionally conduct research as part of their normal job duties logically consider it one of their strengths.

The temptation to simply “Google it” is understandable.

However, there are serious drawbacks to an informal approach to investigative open source and public records research. Corporate intelligence, due diligence, background investigations, and litigation support require specialized techniques, devoting sufficient time and resources, and working on tight deadlines. In other words, investigative public records research should be treated as a specialized skill and service. Indeed, it is worth remembering the stakes involved in such projects. A mistake, error, or omission can have harmful consequences, such as:

  • A lawyer being unable to advance winning arguments in court because of incomplete or inaccurate facts, or an insufficient understanding of a party’s past conduct.
  • An individual with fabricated credentials, a shaky track record, or a history of misconduct being appointed to an executive role, or to a company’s board of directors.
  • A party to a proxy contest being caught unprepared for an adversary’s public criticism because they did not know about vulnerabilities with their board nominees or executive leadership.
  • An investor getting the go-ahead for a materially flawed deal because red flags were missed during due diligence.
  • Or, conversely, a lucrative investment opportunity being needlessly axed because of a supposed “red flag” that was not properly understood and contextualized.

But what really differentiates such a professional’s investigative research process from the more casual approach? The basics can be summed up as follows:

Broad Expertise and Adaptability

A corporate intelligence professional must have an advanced level of knowledge across several subject matter domains, including law, capital markets, finance, fraud prevention, international and domestic politics, real estate, media, and social media. A researcher must likewise be capable of quickly getting up to speed on a wide variety of different regions and industries.

On one recent matter, Forward Risk’s research into a South American businessman found mysterious business links to the sons of a high-level politician, disproving earlier claims that he separates his business life from his political activities. Assessing the issue required a close examination of business and financial records combined with a nuanced understanding of the political environment.

Access to Restricted Data Sources

Common access restrictions include hefty subscription costs, lack of online availability, and limitations on who is allowed to conduct searches. Data access varies tremendously state by state, and country by country. Investigative research specialists are experts in solving data access problems and ensuring that research is as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

For example, a client once asked us about a supposed “criminal” record that someone else had brought to them as a “red flag.” Forward Risk knew the state’s records well and used a subscription-based remote access portal to find out more. The matter turned out to be nothing more than a routine speeding ticket.

A trusted, licensed private investigations agency also has access to certain proprietary databases that must be used very carefully, and only in approved circumstances, because they contain sensitive personal data. These resources are very valuable for investigators.

For example, through the use of such databases, we have found addresses for vacation homes located far from where subjects ever claimed to live or work. With new geographic areas to focus on, we have been able to reorient our searches and uncover litigation and other risk issues that would otherwise have been missed.

Advanced Search Techniques

A simple error on search input, such as a misplaced comma or the lack of a necessary asterisk, can cause an inexperienced researcher to miss the project’s key finding. Failing to identify and account for name variations can ruin any name-based search. And when there are hundreds or thousands of results to sort through, a researcher must work carefully and strategically to home in on the important matters.

During a pre-investment due diligence project, a search on a very common name in California state courts resulted in dozens of “hits,” but few details were online about the cases. With investigative rigor, we narrowed the list of cases down to a handful of the matters most likely to be relevant. We were then able to engage a court runner to retrieve key documents, ultimately uncovering an allegation of violent conduct by the subject of our review.

Established Methodology

A casual research approach will usually involve making assumptions about where relevant information is most likely to be found, and focusing all efforts on just those data sources. An effective methodology, however, covers a far wider array of searches, because key findings often show up in the least expected places.

One example is the practice of examining the track record of each company where a person has served on the board of directors. Less experienced researchers often skip this crucial step, or approach it in an insufficiently targeted fashion, thereby failing to develop truly actionable intelligence for clients.

In support of a proxy contest matter, we once found that a certain board nominee had previously been on the audit committee for a company accused of committing serious account fraud. When the proxy battle was settled, this nominee was not included on the board.

Time, Resources, and Experience

Someone who is not a full-time specialist in open source and public records research may waste much time and energy. It can take hours to simply figure out what records are available and how to search them. Investigative professionals have done this legwork already, and they can also leverage their past experience to avoid making costly missteps. Researchers can also brainstorm challenging problems and share best practices with their team or professional network.

Perhaps the most important value-add that a corporate intelligence professional provides is also the hardest to explain: the investigative instinct. Key qualities include curiosity, creativity, diligence, persistence, logical reasoning, and focus. Top-flight researchers know instinctively which leads to pursue (sometimes for hours), and which “rabbit holes” to avoid.

As just one example, a researcher’s meticulous review of county recorder data found a seemingly anodyne “agreement” filing, that upon closer inspection revealed a business executive’s personal financial distress.

 

These examples illustrate the value-add of a corporate intelligence professional in conducting open-source and public records investigative research. Once fully grasped, the contrast to an informal, casual approach is quite clear. Forward Risk’s professional researchers can save clients time and avoid costly mistakes by leveraging all of the information that open-source records can provide, leaving no stone unturned.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Daniel Greenberg is a Partner at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Forward Risk & Intelligence LLC, a Washington, DC-based corporate investigations, intelligence, and risk advisory firm, is pleased to announce that Jen Hoar has joined the firm as Managing Director. Jen, who brings nearly two decades of professional experience in reporting and investigations to the firm, will grow and develop Forward Risk’s human source intelligence offering.

A former journalist, Jen first honed interviewing skills at news organizations such as ABC News, National Journal, and CBS News. She later worked with former CIA operations officials and prosecutors, among others, in corporate investigations and intelligence firms Crumpton Group and Investigative Group International, before starting her own firm, Sinclair Insight LLC. Jen was also a founding member of an investigative team at Facebook, where she worked on information warfare and election issues.

Human source intelligence is a crucial aspect of investigative work and will complement and supplement all of Forward Risk’s service areas, from litigation and arbitration support to pre-investment due diligence. Collecting human intelligence requires functional expertise and sensitivity to both transparency and confidentiality. At Forward Risk, Jen will innovate how the firm leverages source intelligence to inform clients’ complex decision-making.

Jen is one of the best in the business, and with her sophisticated and client-centric approach to source intelligence, she’s the right leader to help take our team to the next level.

— Forward Risk Co-Founder and Partner Brendan Foo.

By applying her extensive and deep industry experience to her new position, Jen seeks to build upon the existing tradition of forward-thinking, thorough, and principled investigative work that defines Forward Risk.

“I’m thrilled to join Forward Risk and lead the expansion of the firm’s human source intelligence capability, which I believe significantly augments the insight we provide to clients,” says Jen. “Conducting sophisticated source work in-house, along with an already expansive suite of research and analysis offerings, will propel and differentiate us in the industry. I’m flattered and grateful to be a member of this team of multidisciplinary investigative talent.”

About Forward Risk and Intelligence

Forward Risk is a corporate investigations, intelligence, and risk advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC.

Our experienced and resourceful team conducts investigative due diligence, business intelligence research, risk assessments, candidate vetting, and other bespoke intelligence services for asset managers, private equity, law firms, multinational corporations, and political campaigns. No matter the engagement, our approach is value-oriented, and emphasizes results – through thorough research, sophisticated analysis, clear writing, and thoughtful presentation.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Co-Founder Brendan Foo – Brendan [at] forwardrisk.com.

By Julia Wilton, Senior Associate and George Shamiyeh, Director, Forward Risk and Intelligence

Under the Hood: A Discussion Series for Investigative Professionals

Growing and developing your skills as an investigator starts with receiving feedback from peers and learning from that feedback. But what if you’re not receiving the guidance you need to take the next step?

As our team has laid out in previous insights, investigative researchers constantly face the struggles of dealing with tight deadlines, high expectations, and the fear of making mistakes in their work. When you add in failures in top-down communication and guidance, these factors increase the likelihood that investigators will lose motivation, or worse, become burned out.

Having a formalized process to review the work of your investigators is crucial, but failing to leverage it in a way that maximizes their potential and enhances company culture can have significant consequences in the short and long term. Here, we highlight some of the ways that reviewers can effectively provide feedback to team members.

How Reviews Affect Client Deliverables

An investigations firm is only as good as the quality of the work that it provides to its clients. High quality service, in turn, is the culmination of thorough research and analysis that has stood the test of rigorous scrutiny and skepticism.

Fundamental to ensuring that a client receives exceptional investigative services is the existence of a review process that puts ego aside and prioritizes attention to detail, comprehensiveness, thoughtfulness, and factual accuracy. Critically, any gap or failure in this process could result in flaws that go undetected. Consequently, this may result in the loss of substantial business and irreparable reputational harm. As such, it’s necessary for any investigative team that aims to impress clients and become a market leader to devote sufficient time and resources to reviewing deliverables holistically.

Reviewers should effectively operate as an investigations company’s “red team,” serving as the final line of defense in independently evaluating whether a report is up to snuff. To do so effectively, reviewers often find themselves analyzing information from a client’s perspective, and they must consistently strive to poke holes in research while maintaining an unbiased approach.

This is no passive undertaking, but rather, a crucial phase that requires deliberate, but empathetic, review and guidance.

Cultivating, Teaching, and Empathizing Investigators

Building trust and communication often starts with the investigative review process. As an editor, it is essential to come to the realization that you are working with a peer or colleague. With that in mind, giving feedback requires empathy, and providing positive and constructive guidance – as you would have it received – is perhaps the most important step in the review process.

Approaching each investigative review with respect and an open line of communication will more often than not preclude any long-term performance issues. To that end, editing needs to be undertaken in a way that teaches researchers the “do’s and don’ts” of investigative research and report-writing.

Simultaneously, the editing process should ideally cultivate and support investigators in growing and honing their skills.

Critical feedback is necessary to enable researchers to learn best practices for analyzing information and putting pen to paper, but it should be provided in a constructive and sensitive manner. Are researchers approaching each case with an investigative mindset – one that aims to leave no stone unturned? Are they relying on the most authoritative sources, asking all the relevant questions, and ensuring that there are no other available avenues of research? Are they directly addressing your clients’ concerns?

These are some of the questions that should be top of mind while reviewing an investigative report, but the way in which they are conveyed to a researcher during the editing process is crucial.

If editors rely on harsh, judgmental, or disparaging feedback – which on their own can cultivate an uneven power dynamic driven by fear – it can ultimately affect the entire culture of a firm for the worse. Instead, editors should approach the review process as a learning experience in its own right, and they should aim to impart knowledge and experience while keeping an open mind.

Instead of telling a colleague that something is plain wrong (receiving a late-night edit that reads, “Pls fix, thx,” is unfortunately too common in our line of work), explain to them why a change is needed in a certain case, even if the explanation requires a bit of extra time and effort.

An essential goal of the review process is to develop your investigators. Providing positive feedback and reinforcement for good investigative work – and being specific about what exactly was done well – can have a big impact and ensure that your researchers don’t feel burned out, particularly in the early stages of their careers in this field. Highlighting what you like about your investigator’s research and writing reiterates what you hope to see more of in forthcoming projects.

More importantly, as your investigators progress, this approach will only create more efficiencies for your firm in the long run, and it will pay dividends by boosting employee morale and improving overall workplace culture.

Everyone Should Be An Editor – And Everyone Needs to be Edited!

While seasoned investigators often require fewer edits or changes to their original work, it is imperative that teams continue to thoroughly review and critique the work of all researchers – regardless of experience in the field. Veteran investigators may require less of a ‘teaching’ approach to edits, but reviewers should remain scrupulous and focused on the content of the research at hand.

On the other hand, while everyone needs edits, it is pivotal that every researcher also becomes an effective editor in their own right, preferably early on in their investigative careers. Unsurprisingly, inexperienced investigators become better researchers by undertaking edits for a more seasoned colleague. Encouraging your emergent investigators to take up reviews can prove to be truly informative. Becoming an editor allows those early on in their careers to visualize and absorb the methods and approaches of more experienced researchers, enabling them to develop their own conclusions for self-improvement.

Crucially, it allows researchers to internalize what to do and not to do, and how to do it, and to apply lessons learned to their own investigative work.

This post is the fifth in a series about workplace challenges facing investigative professionals and other white-collar researchers, focusing on practical advice and lessons learned from our own experiences. While tailored toward the investigative and intelligence industry, we hope that these articles are also valuable for others in the professional services sector, while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Forward Risk’s values and operating practices.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Julia Wilton is a Senior Associate and George Shamiyeh is Director at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By Daniel Greenberg, Partner, and Andrea Tang, Senior Associate, Forward Risk and Intelligence

Under the Hood: A Discussion Series for Investigative Professionals

Investigations firms, like many white-collar employers, are grappling with changes to the workplace sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, the industry also grants us boons such as a workflow that can largely be handled remotely – with a few noteworthy exceptions, such as on-site court searches and in-person HUMINT interviews. However, for the most part, the evolution of the modern investigations world has created tools that – when properly applied – enable a workflow that can be handled safely, thoroughly, and responsibly from remote locations while diligently safeguarding information security and ensuring adequate training for new hires.

Why Should Investigators Adopt the Hybrid Work Model?

The immediate benefits of enabling a healthy and productive remote work culture in most white-collar industries have already spoken for themselves – article after article has already been penned upon the importance of not only mitigating pandemic exposure risks, but enabling the daily convenience, productivity, and mental and physical health of employees in a rapidly changing corporate landscape.

This increasingly popular hybrid work model boasts particular benefits for investigators. Chief among these is enabling firms to attract highly capable employees. The demand for complex investigative work frequently outstrips the number of talented and well-trained investigators available to handle such cases. As a result, investigative firms that perform best in the marketplace are those that can win the war for talent – and one of the best weapons available is a corporate culture that trusts gifted and experienced investigators to flexibly manage their own work environments.

Seasoned investigators often have good reason for preferring a work-from-home setup. In addition to the usual challenges of handling long commutes and work-life balance issues, investigators frequently contend with demanding assignments that require deep focus and uninterrupted time to concentrate on casework. Often, these assignments are more easily handled from the comfort of home – without the myriad distractions or social temptations of the office. For more experienced investigators handling difficult casework, the option of solitude may prove beneficial.

Information Security as a Top Priority

Of course, a firm only benefits from remote setups if work can be conducted securely and in compliance with data protection laws and norms. Investigative firms must stay up to date on the latest Information Security best practices and proactively ensure that remote employees adhere to company policies. For example, a firm’s InfoSec leadership must verify that each employee’s home office setup meets baseline network security standards.

Investigators must be aware that their firms, not unlike political campaigns, could be targeted by highly sophisticated hackers, including those supported by hostile nation-states. Legacy technology systems and concepts may not be up to the task. For example, firms must be aware of cyber risks if investigators are using a VPN from home to access an internal company server. Multi-factor authentication and a modern, highly secure cloud storage platform are both essential. The data storage environment must also have strict permission controls; investigators should only see data for cases they are directly working on. Of course, employees must be trained to be hyper-vigilant regarding common cyber threats such as phishing. National boundaries also come into play in various scenarios, such as jurisdiction-dependent access to certain OSINT resources. Not every search can be done from outside particular territories due to data protection regulations.

Benefits of In-Office Interaction for Investigators

Office time remains instrumental to many aspects of investigative success. In addition to team-building and general camaraderie, office time fosters an ideal environment for collaboration on cases that demand the skill sets of multiple investigators. These may include assists on the same subject, as well as cases in which researchers must work on closely related subjects. For example, when handling shareholder activism matters, a research team typically investigates multiple members of the same board and executive leadership team, or of the same dissident slate. It is incumbent on all investigators to remain abreast of what their counterparts are working on, which is perhaps more easily done in an in-office research bullpen, where organic conversations often give rise to creative new approaches and lightbulb moments. Bespoke projects that necessitate unusual approaches or break new research ground are also often best handled by a team of investigators who can brainstorm on appropriate methodology and reporting structure.

Furthermore, time in the office creates opportunities for investigators with different specialties and experiences to share tips, tricks, and handy information. This collective in-person brain trust often fosters creative solutions to otherwise frustrating or challenging projects. Examples include familiarizing colleagues with new jurisdictions, lending a hand with advanced OSINT tools, and offering area studies expertise on non-US territories and foreign languages.

Tackling Investigative Steps That Require an In-Person Presence

Although the vast majority of white-collar investigative work – such as open source and public records research – can be conducted remotely, exceptions exist. The closure of courthouses throughout 2020, for example, affected the ability of investigative firms to use court runners to conduct research on-site, and to retrieve court documents that were not available online. Creative solutions were sometimes available, but certain capabilities simply could not be directly replaced.  Fortunately, most court closures have ended, allowing on-site research at courthouses to resume more or less normally.

Training and onboarding also tend to function more smoothly in an office environment. While not impossible to tackle remotely or online, research training simply hits fewer snags when new hires can ask direct questions and conduct practice cases in the presence of their more seasoned mentors. Although firms may convey all the same content, thanks to the wonders of screen sharing and other online communication resources, it remains unclear whether a presentation lands with the same impact if given over a call. In addition, trainees tend to ask fewer impromptu questions over chat, than in person.

Ultimately, more in-person face time for junior hires builds their confidence and skill at working independently, as they grow in their careers, whether in the office or at home. What a more senior investigator might breeze through remotely, a junior hire will likely require some degree of mentorship and supervision – and providing that environment will set them up for success working from any location. Direct face time for senior employees can be further incentivized with commuter-friendly benefits such as a conveniently accessible office address, in-office meetings that actively facilitate progress on group projects, and firm-subsidized social events. This may encourage and enable more experienced researchers to spend time in the office mentoring their junior counterparts.

Looking Toward the Future

While the lockdown era of 2020 may have been the initial watershed moment that created a mainstream rise in work-from-home setups, hybrid work models don’t appear to be disappearing any time soon. Events of the past two years have the benefits of a more flexible work environment in most corporate settings. Covid-19 pandemic aside, the growing acceptance of at least occasional remote work days creates several unrelated boons, including focused work time for senior hires, and a flexible work environment that may prove attractive to prospective hires in a battle for limited talent.

Ultimately, good investigative firms should consider mirroring their clients’ practices. As extensions of our clients’ support teams, it behooves us to examine the practices of law firms, hedge funds, private equity firms, and other clientele. At this point in time, we see a mix of remote and in-person work in most of these sectors, and it remains unclear where they may ultimately settle.

One thing remains clear: a hybrid work model, when intelligently implemented, provides the best of both worlds to premier white-collar investigators. By leveraging best practices for a flexible work environment, investigations firms cultivate an inherent adaptability that will benefit its team members and clients alike, regardless of what the future holds.

This post is the fourth in a series about workplace challenges facing investigative professionals and other white-collar researchers, focusing on practical advice and lessons learned from our own experiences. While tailored toward the investigative and intelligence industry, we hope that these articles are also valuable for others in the professional services sector, while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Forward Risk’s values and operating practices.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Daniel Greenberg is a Partner, and Andrea Tang is a Senior Associate at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By George Shamiyeh, Skyler Minke, and Knowles Adkisson, Forward Risk and Intelligence

The trend is unmistakable. Investments in professional sports, long the province of high-net-worth individuals motivated by a mix of passion and prestige, are increasingly catching the eye of institutional investors in search of value creation and lucrative returns. Professional sports franchises and leagues who once shunned private equity overtures are now spreading their arms wide, spurred by greater liquidity needs to sustain growth and manage pandemic-related losses.

Together these factors create an environment that offers promising new investment opportunities not only in North America and Europe, but in regions as far-flung as India and New Zealand. But these opportunities do not come without inherent challenges and risks—fan passion and exposure to corruption and organized crime, for instance—that are almost entirely unique to the sports industry. The successful private equity investor will require a nuanced understanding of this sector to navigate the risks associated with acquisition and marketing opportunities, including efforts such as investigative research into potential equity partners and club leaders, as well as a strong understanding of geopolitical risks.

Transition Away from “Mom-and-Pop” Ownership

From the early days of professional sports until relatively recently, ownership in franchises was limited to high-net-worth individuals, or sometimes as in the case of European soccer, collective fan ownership. Leagues feared that corporate ownership would lead to a loss of control by virtue of being accountable to stockholders and having to submit proprietary information to financial regulators. As a result, leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB in North America instituted rules limiting, for example, majority ownership stakes to individuals who can afford to pay cash.

But starting in the last several years and accelerating during the coronavirus pandemic, those leagues have started to amend their bylaws to relax those restrictions, for several reasons. For one, sports franchise values have exploded. In 2001, for example, Forbes estimated that the average NBA franchise was worth $207 million. In 2021, Forbes pegged the average NBA team’s worth at $2.2 billion. This upward explosion in valuations has made the prospect of summoning the liquidity to purchase a franchise outright increasingly daunting for the individual investor.

A key driver of these increased valuations is an exponential growth in media rights deals. The rise of digital technology and streaming have enabled sports entities—such as European soccer clubs, a popular recent investment target for institutional investors—to grow their brands beyond national and continental borders to reach truly global audiences. Recent developments such as the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a federal prohibition on sports betting are supercharging this trend, with the number of Americans betting on sports in 2021 expected to increase by more than a third over the previous year. Ongoing competition between clubs to maximize these new opportunities has required them to transition into truly international businesses, or else be left behind.

In March 2020, these trends collided with the coronavirus pandemic to create a perfect storm for private equity investment in sports. Even as league and franchise valuations continued to rise, revenue across sports plummeted with the cancellation of games and drastically reduced fan attendance. The disruption almost prompted the collapse of Italian soccer’s premier league, Serie A, while Germany’s top league, the Bundesliga, sought to stem revenue losses with a proposed sale of its overseas broadcasting rights to private equity bidders.

Each of these developments—a need to professionalize their business operations, sustain growth, and compensate for pandemic-related losses—has led sports leagues and franchises to seek outside investment from private equity investors, who had record amounts of unspent cash on hand at the onset of the pandemic. And attracted by consistent returns and the prospect of future growth, private equity has returned the interest.

“Clubs and leagues are looking for investors who can support their growth through strategies like international expansion, broadcast rights partnerships, new streaming distribution opportunities, betting and digital,” Franziska Kayser, a Managing Director at KKR, recently told Private Equity News.

The Risk Landscape

So, with inexorable revenue and valuation growth and an urgent demand for liquidity, sports investments should be a, well, “slam dunk” for private equity investors, right? As in other sectors, the most realistic answer is, “not always.” An investment in sports brings with it a set of unique costs and challenges that are ignored at great peril.

For starters, the sports industry in general has long suffered from exposure to corruption—including match-fixing, bribery, and money-laundering—and the sector offers numerous entry and exit points for illicit finance. Any potential equity transaction should begin with due diligence—including executive background screening, extensive public records review, and independent source interviews—to arm potential investors with all available information before making a major commitment. Having thoroughly examined and analyzed public records and news sources in countless jurisdictions across the globe, Forward Risk’s team of investigators is well-positioned to help private equity investors identify and mitigate risks arising from bribery and corruption. Leveraging our multilingual research capabilities and subject matter expertise in major world regions, we piece together open-source information to provide our clients with actionable intelligence.

Depending on context, investments in this sector can also be volatile to an investor’s bottom line. In English soccer’s Premier League, where each season the three worst clubs are sent to a lower division with dramatically reduced broadcast revenue, poor on-field performance can have immense financial consequences. American PE firm ALK Capital’s recent purchase of English club Burnley F.C. could, according to some estimates, see the team’s television revenue drop from about $130 million per year to $4 million per year if the club doesn’t win enough this season to stay in the Premier League. Without a proper deep-dive review of open sources, or interviews with well-placed individuals—focused on gathering a concrete understanding of a league’s relegation practices or a management team’s track record—prospective investors might find themselves behind the curve from the get-go.

Finally, any investor must also understand that the high-visibility nature of sports carries with it the potential for widespread reputational damage that can happen quickly and with little opportunity for damage control. The recent takeover of Newcastle United by the private equity firm PCP Capital Partners and the Saudi Public Investment Fund has brought with it a spate of media coverage surrounding human rights abuses by the Saudi government. Unlike in, for example, the real estate sector, investments in sports require stakeholders to maintain a strong relationship with fans and players. In April 2021, a proposal for the largest European soccer teams to form their own, transcontinental “European Super League” fell apart almost immediately after it was made public in the face of immense backlash from fans, players, and politicians. JPMorgan Chase & Co., which had pledged nearly $5 billion to underwrite the new league, suffered what the New York Times described as “an immense reputational hit” when the proposal collapsed.

“Investors need to appreciate the community and country dynamics in which they are investing,” Gerry Cardinale, the Founder and Managing Partner of sports-focused private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners, recently told Private Equity International. “Teams at the most fundamental level are emotional assets and brands that ultimately belong to the fans and their larger community.”

Institutional investors seeking entry into the global sports industry will require a seasoned business intelligence and due diligence partner, as investments in this space should be made with a full picture in hand. That includes not only an in-depth review of the track records of potential equity partners and club leaders, but also a clear outline of the geopolitical risks that may bring blowback to a deal.

Forward Risk’s dedicated investigations team comprises industry experts who have years of combined experience in supporting hedge funds and private equity firms to navigate the risks associated with acquisition and market-entry opportunities. We invite you to find out more about how Forward Risk can help.

George Shamiyeh is a Director, Skyler Minke is a Senior Associate, and Knowles Adkisson is an Associate at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By Daniel Greenberg, Partner, and Krystal Ramirez, Associate Director, Forward Risk and Intelligence

Under the Hood: A Discussion Series for Investigative Professionals

High-quality investigations require not just experience conducting research, but a truly investigative mindset – which includes accounting for unconscious bias.

An investigator’s job at its core is to obtain the truth. The investigator must grapple with the inaccessibility of much helpful information, and the need to filter out huge amounts of irrelevant data. Often, the key finding in a case is the needle in a haystack.

To overcome these challenges, investigators must approach their craft with a mindset that prizes intellect over rote actions. Investigators make informed decisions and practice good judgment, keeping in mind the key attributes of quality research: depth, breadth, carefulness, and direction.

An investigator’s judgment can become clouded if they are affected by their own biases – both conscious and unconscious. It is essential that investigators reflect on what biases may be affecting them, and then take steps to counteract them.

What is bias?

In the case of explicit, or conscious, bias, an individual is very clear about their feelings and attitudes, and related behaviors are conducted with intent. Because of this, conscious bias can be easier to anticipate and recognize.

For instance, an investigator may experience conscious bias stemming from a preexisting relationship with a company or individual that they are looking into. This, of course, can present a conflict of interest during the course of an investigation.

Although conscious biases are most often thought of in connection to relationships with people, such biases also can exist with respect to records and sources of information. For example, an investigator may consciously trust certain news and information sources more than others. Indeed, many investigative professionals would admit that they favor more mainstream media over less well-known publications, and account for this explicit bias in the way that they present their findings.

On the other hand, unconscious bias, also called implicit bias, is a bias that the holder is not aware of at the time. Science has shown that people harbor more unconscious biases than most would care to admit.

Specifically, numerous studies indicate that there are limitations to human perception, attention, and decision-making – that is, individuals cannot process all stimuli that surround them on a daily basis, so instead they adapt “mental shortcuts.” Although there are ways in which this tendency can be helpful, it also has the potential to inadvertently undermine investigations. A number of nonprofit organizations like The Innocence Project have documented how unconscious bias can negatively affect criminal investigations and criminal justice outcomes; these same biases can also affect corporate investigations.

How can unconscious bias affect investigations?

Unconscious bias can affect how an investigator looks for evidence, interprets facts, and ultimately reaches conclusions. Common examples include attention bias, confirmation bias, affinity bias, and attribution bias – all of which can negatively impact an investigation.

Studies show that we pay more attention to action that is consistent with a stereotype than to action that contradicts a stereotype: this is known as attention bias, or low-effort information processing. In these cases, an individual may tend to develop inferences or expectations about a person early on in the information-gathering process. Consider that when conducting open-source research, an investigator may unconsciously be more likely to expect to find criminal records for an individual if they are a person of color. An investigator affected by such a bias could mistakenly connect a criminal record to the target of their investigation, when in reality the finding actually pertained to a different person with the same name.

Similarly, confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and attribute weight to pieces of evidence that support an individual’s preconceived notion and ignore evidence which disproves it. It also manifests itself in the tendency to interpret ambiguous evidence as supportive of one’s own thinking. In the case of a human intelligence (HUMIINT) investigation, confirmation bias can even unconsciously affect the questions one may ask, leading a source to give answers that are skewed. While an investigator may be inclined to ask targeted questions, these may unintentionally elicit answers that support an initial assumption, whereas a broader line of questioning may provide a more fulsome set of facts.

Unconscious bias can also lead an investigator to discount important evidence. For example, individuals often have a tendency or preference for people like themselves – this is called affinity, or ingroup, bias. This preference for people like ourselves is largely instinctive and unconscious. Affinity bias can affect an investigator’s professional skepticism; say, if an investigator were to unconsciously be less critical of someone who shares their political views.

Unconscious biases are also problematic because they can interfere with the objective assessment of facts and skew an analysis. In the case of attribution bias, an investigator may attribute an individual’s behavior to a stereotypical characteristic. Conversely, if an individual behaves in contrast to a group stereotype, an investigator might attribute that behavior to external causes, preserving the integrity of the stereotype. For instance, an investigator may unconsciously be more likely to ascribe a woman CEO’s accomplishments to external factors (e.g., an upturn in the economy, or stronger overall demand in the industry) than to her effective leadership skills.

Because we are fundamentally unaware of our own automatic, unconscious biases, we believe we are acting in accordance with our conscious intentions, when in fact our unconscious is in the driver’s seat. Therefore, our assessment of the facts is never as objective as we believe them to be.

In what ways can an investigations firm combat unconscious bias?

Managing unconscious bias during an investigation is challenging because, by definition, an individual is unaware of its influence. However, by proactively recognizing the impact unconscious bias can have on investigations, and consequently, the quality of the work, a firm can take steps to combat it.

First, an investigations firm can recruit talent with unique backgrounds by employing hiring practices that encourage a diverse candidate pool. The strongest team will include individuals who have different lived experiences and multi-faceted identities. This diversity (including sexual orientation, gender identity, neurodiversity, socio-economic or educational background, and myriad other traits that are hard to define) will pay dividends especially during the internal review process, when colleagues aim to bring in different perspectives to the research, analysis, and reporting on an engagement.

Employers can also actively foster a culture of learning and growth. Investigators should feel empowered to continuously self-monitor their own perceptions, judgments, behavior, decisions, and actions for the influence of implicit biases. Firms can nurture this by providing opportunities for investigators to pursue professional development. For example, the firm can provide grants or stipends for its team members to attend conferences and training courses.

Having access to these grants at work motivated me to pursue professional interests that I may not have been able to explore in as much depth otherwise. As an example, I recently attended a nationwide conference exclusively focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. Developing additional skills and bringing some of those lessons back to the office has allowed me to connect with colleagues in new ways and build initiatives that ultimately contribute to the work that we do.

— Forward Risk Associate Beatriz Bechelli

Taking such steps to mitigate the harm of unconscious bias will lead to higher quality work, and better outcomes for clients. As investigators, efforts to combat bias and improve diversity will ultimately demonstrate our commitment to our profession and our clients.

This post is the third in a series about workplace challenges facing investigative professionals and other white-collar researchers, focusing on practical advice and lessons learned from our own experiences. While tailored toward the investigative and intelligence industry, we hope that these articles are also valuable for others in the professional services sector, while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Forward Risk’s values and operating practices.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Daniel Greenberg is a Partner, and Krystal Ramirez is an Associate Director at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By Daniel Greenberg, Partner & Christopher Darroch, Associate Director, Forward Risk and Intelligence

Under the Hood: A Discussion Series for Investigative Professionals

A bevy of articles have been published in the past two years discussing the effects of employee burnout and ways to prevent it. Little if any such writing has been tailored to the world of corporate investigations, but the sector poses special challenges that should be addressed head-on.

Investigative professionals are not usually the first group that the public will think of when discussing burnout. Nowadays, white-collar workers can typically do most, if not all, of their work remotely, or as it is sometimes phrased: “from the comfort of their homes.” At the national level, it is certainly appropriate for the conversation to focus far more on healthcare professionals, teachers, and others facing extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

But if you personally work in the field of corporate investigations, or if you rely on the work of investigators for your business’s success, then the work conditions in this sector are likely important to you. Investigative researchers must contend with tight deadlines, high expectations, and the ever-present knowledge that a single mistake can have deleterious consequences. In short, the conditions for burnout are all present. Fortunately, there are several approaches leadership can take to prevent burnout on an investigative research team.

Mitigate Feelings of Over-Work

An investigative researcher who is dedicated and passionate about their job can still burn out if they are overworked. As explained by a May 2021 New Yorker article (“Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition?” by Jill Lepore), the term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger, who put in long hours at a free clinic in New York. Freudenberger wrote, “You feel a total sense of commitment… until you finally find yourself, as I did, in a state of exhaustion.”

The previous article in this series discussed how investigative team leaders can mitigate feelings of overwork and burnout by creating a functional work environment, thinking ahead, and setting boundaries. In addition, leadership can consider the following approaches:

  • Mix up project types: Working on the same type of investigative project over and over again can lead people to feel overworked even if their hours are reasonable. After a researcher completes a big project, try to assign them something different for at least a day or two to break things up. Similarly, if a researcher has been assigned a number of smaller projects in a row, consider giving them a longer-term case to work on. Overall, watch out if someone ends up becoming your “go to” for a certain project type: is that something they actually want?
  • Avoid “speed up” pressures: According to the New York Times (“Young Workers Disrupt Key G. M. Plant” by Agis Salpukas), in January 1972, General Motors assembly line workers in Lordstown, Ohio famously went on strike in protest of “being asked to work too hard and too fast to be able to turn out quality automobiles.” Investigative researchers may be familiar with this general sentiment. Be cautious when reducing “hours per case,” unless you have a well-thought-out plan. Genuine efficiency gains come from changes to techniques or approaches, not simply pressuring researchers to “speed up,” or meet an arbitrary “utilization rate” that fails to measure the objective quality of their output.
  • Cut down on distractions: If your researcher has 10 days to complete a project, but they are on conference calls and responding to emails for half that time, then they really only have five days. The phrase “that meeting could have been an email” is ubiquitous but only tells part of the story; emails and chat messages can also be disruptive. Good research requires intense focus on the subject of your investigation. Leaders who respect this need for focus and structure their internal communications carefully can minimize unnecessary distractions and empower researchers to hit ambitious targets.
  • Encourage employees to utilize work from home advantages: While something of a mixed bag, working from home comes with novel advantages. For example, workers save time without their morning commutes and are more able to tailor their work environment to their specific needs. However, the high-stakes nature of the investigative field can cause some employees to question their use of these benefits; taking a walk around the office feels perfectly natural, but taking an equally-timed break while at home can feel lazy. Encouraging employees to reap work from home benefits can not only help counter burnout, but also increase trust between employers and employees.

Connect Researchers with the Purpose of their Work

MIT Sloan Management Review (“What You’re Getting Wrong About Burnout,” by Liz Fosslien) recently emphasized that overwork was only one of the causes of burnout, with other causes being lack of meaning, feelings of ineffectiveness, and not receiving emotional support. As such, the following points may prove helpful:

  • Investigators who believe in the purpose and importance of their work are less likely to feel burnt out. Managers should regularly remind their team why their work has value to the client and often to society as a whole. Perhaps more importantly, managers should also take the time to learn about each investigator’s values and beliefs, and help them connect their day-to-day work to an end goal that has meaning for them.
  • A researcher’s sense of purpose can dwindle over time if leaders are neglectful. Some investigative projects are inherently meaningful and interesting; digging up evidence of fraud and stopping a scammer in their tracks is usually going to feel satisfying. Unfortunately, in many cases, the ultimate goal of an assignment cannot be fully shared with the researcher. In other cases, a researcher may come to feel – often mistakenly – that the assignment is “routine” and not fulfilling any larger purpose. It then falls to leadership to actively communicate why the work is in fact meaningful.
  • Leaders can emphasize the link between high-quality research, client satisfaction, and workers’ career objectives. If an investigator clearly sees that high performance on a project will result in advancing their own career and the goals of their team, they will feel more of a connection to the project. Often, a sense of purpose can come from helping a colleague or hitting an important benchmark.
  • Researchers can also find innate value in the mastery of the investigative skill set. At Forward Risk, we often advocate for investigators to see each project as an opportunity to develop and apply creative methods and techniques, which often uncover hard-to-find information. Regardless of the ultimate end use of the case, a sense of purpose and progress can be found within any assignment, so long as the researcher believes in the value of the investigative craft.

Avoid Seeing Burnout as an Individual Failing

Managers typically have a lot of competing priorities and duties and may be tempted to view topics like burnout, motivation, and purpose as something that each researcher should handle on their own. They may think, “if someone is feeling burnt out, why don’t they just take a vacation?” Vacations are one part of the answer but far from a complete solution. Researchers should be energized by their work, not drained from it and in desperate need of recovery time.

In addition, what some managers may fail to recognize is that, while working from home, an already fragile work-life balance can quickly take over a researcher’s life. The lack of the concrete distinction between time spent in the office and time at home leaves some employees in a state of limbo, never fully leaving their workplaces. Managers should regularly check in with their researchers to ensure that their work does not bleed over and dominate their personal lives. Such bleed over will only serve to increase employee burnout.

The benefits from employee engagement and retention vastly outweigh the costs of preventing and mitigating burnout, in terms of both quality of investigative services, and financial considerations. The above suggestions are just a few examples of actionable steps that leaders can take to prevent burnout, although it is a task that is admittedly easier said than done. While this article does not have all the answers, we hope that you found some value in this discussion.

This post is the second in a series about workplace challenges facing investigative professionals and other white-collar researchers, focusing on practical advice and lessons learned from our own experiences. While tailored toward the investigative and intelligence industry, we hope that these articles are also valuable for others in the professional services sector, while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Forward Risk’s values and operating practices.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Daniel Greenberg is a Partner, and Christopher Darroch is an Associate Director at Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.

By Daniel Greenberg, Partner of Forward Risk and Intelligence

Under the Hood: A Discussion Series for Investigative Professionals

Many firms boast of offering top-quality investigative research and intelligence services, but experience has shown that delivering on these promises requires a highly motivated and well-staffed research team. A proper understanding of the link between employee engagement and research quality should lead to long-term efforts to create a healthy and sustainable work culture.

High-quality investigative research adds a huge amount of value for clients – uncovering hidden facts, changing a narrative, and developing actionable insights – ultimately resulting in improved business decisions and results. Many firms boast of offering top-tier investigative and intelligence services to clients for this reason. However, delivering client value depends on a highly engaged investigative research team that is focused and motivated to excel consistently.

White-collar professionals, like many others, have felt burnout in the past year and a half, and this has led some to feel less engaged with their jobs. Even before the pandemic, investigators and other white-collar research professionals often felt tremendous stress from a variety of factors. Among the many negative consequences of job burnout are lack of concentration, decreased productivity, and increased turnover, according to the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Business Review.

For investigative researchers, burnout impairs core job functions. With a team of chronically stressed out or over-worked employees, how can a client trust that nothing will be overlooked? A key research finding or analytical insight that breaks open a case and delivers real value requires an investigator striving for excellence in all efforts.

For example, an important civil or criminal record finding may only be retrievable by diligently searching many variations of a person’s name. Or, a seemingly benign property transaction could actually be sign of an improper pay-off – an insight only discoverable if an investigator digs in to the background of all involved parties. There are innumerable scenarios in which a highly engaged investigative researcher can add substantial value beyond a more cursory or slapdash approach.

How should investigators (and their managers) promote engagement, prevent burnout, and fulfill their responsibilities to their clients? The full answer is complex and depends on each particular situation, and even the best intentions can fall by the wayside without thoughtful management and sufficient commitment to a long-term outlook.

From my experience, there are a few general lessons that can serve as a guidepost:

Prepare for Busy Season

Investigative researchers and other white-collar professionals are likely already quite familiar with the impact of a sudden spike in project work. Increases in workload happen with enough regularity that they can be planned for. Those taking a fundamentally long-term view of staffing can invest in hiring and training workers before they are desperately needed. A brain trust of talented, hard-working, and experienced researchers is your firm’s most valuable asset, and one not easily replicated. Treating your current investigative team well, across the board, ensures that they will feel genuinely motivated to step up when the situation calls for it.

Be Realistic and Transparent When Assigning Work

Opaque, unrealistic, or even unfair delegation of work can grind down even the most passionate investigative researchers. Research teams should take the time to properly assess how long a project will take –conducting brief preliminary research – and then devote sufficient resources. Managers should routinely bring investigative researchers into the decision-making process and create a culture of inclusivity where opinions are genuinely valued.

Avoid a “Fire Drill” Culture

Any workplace should be, at a minimum, functional. In the investigative research setting, this means leveraging the team’s experience to develop standards around case assignment, research best practices, reviewing, and communicating with clients – without creating excessive bureaucracy. Importantly, those who step up to help their teammates on a difficult assignment should be recognized or rewarded, while any drama or ego battles must be immediately quashed. Leaders must model good behavior themselves, or chaos and dysfunction will filter down throughout the team, with predictable results to engagement.

Set Boundaries

Because of pressing business needs, there are often urgent emails or assignments that come in during evening and weekend hours, or when employees are otherwise unavailable. Research teams should proactively plan ahead for such events in a way that works well for both clients and employees. One simple fix is designating a teammate to cover certain projects while an employee is on PTO. Another may be to schedule emails to be sent only during business hours unless there is a genuine emergency. In general, research teams should act as if boundaries are not just a luxury, but rather an absolute essential component of long-term success.

Our experience in the field of investigative research has shown that a firm cannot effectively serve its clients without retaining and motivating its cadre of research talent. A firm whose leadership takes a long view on employee engagement, talent development, and burnout prevention will consistently produce better results on deliverables and create better long-term relationships with its clients.

This post is the first in a series about workplace challenges facing investigative professionals and other white-collar researchers, focusing on practical advice and lessons learned from our own experiences. While tailored toward the investigative and intelligence industry, we hope that these articles are also valuable for others in the professional services sector, while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Forward Risk’s values and operating practices.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to suggest a topic for further discussion, please email our Partner Dan Greenberg – dan [at] forwardrisk.com.

Daniel Greenberg is a Partner of Forward Risk and Intelligence LLC, a corporate investigations firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York. More information can be found at www.forwardrisk.com.