Joe Petrucelli Author http://joepetrucelli.com Tue, 20 Jun 2017 02:11:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 NACVA QuickReads: Normalization Adjustments http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/nacva-quickreads-normalization-adjustments/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/nacva-quickreads-normalization-adjustments/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2014 20:11:00 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2289 Recently, Joe wrote a 'QuickRead' article that was published on the website www.quickreadbuzz.com. The article can be read here, as well as, below.       Are there hidden risks to the valuator? The best defense against liability is a good offense. As Joseph Petrucelli explains in this article, a good starting point to ensure the appropriate level of professional Continue Reading

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Recently, Joe wrote a 'QuickRead' article that was published on the website www.quickreadbuzz.com.

The article can be read here, as well as, below.

 

 

 

Are there hidden risks to the valuator?

The best defense against liability is a good offense. As Joseph Petrucelli explains in this article, a good starting point to ensure the appropriate level of professional skepticism and due professional care is maintained in engagements is asking the question: “What would a reasonable person think about my judgment?”

 

Normalization Adjustments

Introduction

As valuators, we are asked to determine the necessary normalization adjustments needed to formulate an economic benefit stream that will generate an accurate value for a moment in time. Often, we base this determination on the client’s or management’s representations. We have statements built into our limited conditions and assumptions that declare we are not responsible for the quality of the information being provided to us and that it is deemed to be accurate.  This is supported by a host of other so-called protections that we believe will ensure we are not sued or implicated, but are we really shielded?

In order to be truly shielded as valuators, we need to assume a position of offense, rather than defense, in order to avoid liability. This can only be achieved by maintaining due professional care and an appropriate level of professional skepticism. I have established my own standard that asks the following question: What would a reasonable person think about my judgment? After all, it will be these same reasonable people that will decide whether or not we should be implicated or sued.

Focus of the Article

I propose that we start developing positions of offense, since a good offense is the best defense when avoiding liability. My goal is to create an understanding of the risks, created by limited conditions and assumptions, we often state in our reports. In fact, these limited conditions and assumptions will likely put you in the hot seat when being cross examined, and likely destroy your credibility.

“This [avoiding liability] can only be achieved by maintaining due professional care and an appropriate level of professional skepticism.”

“I take no responsibility.” “The client told me.” “I have not audited the records.” These are just a few examples of the language used as limiting conditions and assumptions.  Will this provide convincing evidence to a reasonable person that we have done our due diligence?  Have we provided reasonable certainty to the average person with this type of language hanging over our opinion? I say, no. When the opposition begins to twist and turn our words, a reasonable person may begin to doubt that the appropriate level of professional skepticism has been applied.  Will a juror or a judge appreciate that we completed our report without looking into the credibility of documentation used to support our position and merely relied on the unchecked representations of the client or management? Yet, we are asking these reasonable people to believe we have arrived at an objective and independent opinion with due professional care. Let’s take a look at due care and negligence in legal terms. Forget the accounting terms, reasonable assurance or certainty.

Due care is the conduct that a reasonable man or woman will exercise in a particular situation in looking out for the safety of others. If one uses due care, then an injured party cannot prove negligence. This is one of those nebulous standards by which negligence is tested. Each juror has to determine what a “reasonable” man or woman would do.Negligence means a person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.2

What if the records we examine indicate tax evasion or avoidance, manipulations to create sudden income decline syndrome (SIDS), or fraudulent transfers of assets that would have been found by looking at a bank statement? These are only a few examples of the potential mistruths our client or management may represent to advance their own self-interests. Do you think clients and management are concerned that we are licensed and that we can be implicated by their actions? None of us want to have to defend ourselves by saying that we may or may not have known, or that we should have known.

We need to be able to defend ourselves from positions of strength, and that can only be achieved through analyzing key documents and meeting the sufficient evidence standards under Rule 201 of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Meeting these standards will put us in an offensive position ready to defend our actions.  The failure to uphold the highest level of support for your opinion is exposing yourself to liability. Reliance on exclusionary language will not save you when the reliance may be deemed by a “reasonable” man or woman to be negligent.

Who is Responsible for the Risks We Face?

Like an audit, tax return preparation, or any other engagement, we are only as good as the management and client we represent and the documentation and supports we are provided. Hearing from lawyers, management, or clients that they do not have the records should be a big red flag. When documents such as bank statements can be directly subpoenaed from the bank, tax returns can be obtained with a filing of IRS Form 4506, and large transactions of receivables or payables can be verified through third parties, valuators should exercise due diligence to obtain proper documentation and verify accuracy when they are material to the adjustments. This is an offensive approach to make sure the documents we are heavily relying on are accurate. Nothing is more devastating than finding all your credibility and work have been destroyed because you relied on the wrong information. Remember that “reasonable” person. Do you really believe he or she will give you the benefit of the doubt if it’s concluded that the item would have been material to your estimation and could have been readily obtained?  We can assume that we are covered because we said so in our limited conditions and assumptions. Yet in the outcome, we may be faced with the dreaded net opinion, and/or have been found to be not credible, and even worse, deemed negligent.

Materiality, one of the ten basic accounting principles, is critical in evaluating risk. Materiality serves as the great equalizer in the reasonable person’s thinking. If you use exclusionary language with respect to a significant fact finding which is based solely upon your client’s statements, and you ignore the fact that supporting documents could have or should have been obtained, which were not provided, think twice before drawing any opinion…unless of course, you like liability.

Misprision

I first found out about this word in a valuation risk weekly webinar I was giving, and it is a word we all should add to our thinking as valuators. The Webster Online Dictionary describes it as a “neglect or wrong performance of an official duty, a concealment of treason or felony by one who is not a participant in the treason or felony, or a seditious conduct against the government or the courts.”  Let’s assume normalization adjustments for taking expenses in violation of the internal revenue code, unreported income, or hidden assets. Do we get to hide behind the limited condition and assumption exclusionary language? Tell it to the IRS Special Agent who shows up at your door and asks you to explain, or the judge or juror who is saying in their mind ,“Yeah right. He didn’t know about it.”  Whether you did or you didn’t is irrelevant. You are now in a defensive position.

Did you prepare a letter that notifies the client and/or his representative that Circular 230 of the Internal Revenue Code says, “I have to alert you to potential tax irregularities and errors and to correct them?” Make sure you have documented and alerted the necessary parties if this occurs to avoid misprision.

If any fraud is found to be present in any of the documents or information you based your opinion on, you could be deemed negligent. This is especially the case if found by a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances, namely the opposing expert. In such a scenario, you will quickly find yourself in defensive position.  All the exclusionary language (defensive thinking) will not replace due professional care, application of the appropriate level of professional skepticism, and proper sufficient evidences (offensive thinking). This is also called covering your back.

Assessing Your Risk 

There are obvious risks that we need to consider as valuators. The normalization adjustments, discount and/or capitalization rate development, and what supports were relied on in formulating our opinions are just some of the areas to be concerned with, based on my experience. The offensive valuator understands the available evidences needed to support his or her opinion.

Normalization Adjustments

There are varying normalization's, and I could write articles on each of the potential normalization's or, better termed, necessary adjustments. Instead, I am proposing a ranking system to determine the risk associated with the judgments we make with five (5) being the highest exposure to my opinion and credibility and one (1) being the lowest. The reasonable compensation adjustment is always a five (5) due to the complexities in developing the adjustment and the potential impact it can have on the value. The higher the compensation, the lower the value.

It is extremely concerning that two experts who  have been provided with the same facts can often have extremely different adjustments in arriving at a final value. With the potential existence of conflicting interests, we need to clearly explain to the parties involved that we do not advocate for our clients, but rather our opinion. Maintaining this principle is the foundation behind arriving at an objective, independent and supportable opinion.

Summary

Here is a simple rule: any adjustments that are material to the value opinion we arrived at need to pass the “reasonable” person test.  The test is that, upon their review of the adjustments made in determining the value, they would conclude that the appropriate level of professional skepticism and due professional care was maintained by the valuator.

Joseph R. Petrucelli, CPA/CFF/CGMA, FCPA, CVA, MAFF, PSA, CFE., is the managing partner of PP&D Accounting Services, Inc., and author of Detecting Fraud in Organizations published by Wiley. He serves as a testifying expert in federal and state courts involving valautions. He also developed a five-day valaution risk webinar for NACVA. He can be reached at jpetrucelli@ppdaccounting.com.

 

1 “Due Care,” The Free Dictionary, Farlex, Inc., http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/due+care.

2 “Negligence,” The Free Dictionary, Farlex, Inc., http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/negligence.

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Accounting: Tiger Tactics 2013 Edition http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/accounting-tiger-tactics-2013-edition/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/accounting-tiger-tactics-2013-edition/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2014 18:09:33 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2274 In July of 2013 Joe Petrucelli was invited to Louisiana to speak at the LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference. The LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference gathers the best of the best in the fraud and forensic accounting world and brings them together for a two day conference. Joe had the privilege of speaking about ‘The 10 Forensically Generally Accepted Accounting Continue Reading

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In July of 2013 Joe Petrucelli was invited to Louisiana to speak at the LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference. The LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference gathers the best of the best in the fraud and forensic accounting world and brings them together for a two day conference. Joe had the privilege of speaking about ‘The 10 Forensically Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Assumptions’ he developed during one of the main sessions. After a very successful conference Joe was featured in the Louisiana State University's E.J. Ourso College of Business official publication Accounting: Tiger Tactics 2013.

 

 

The full issue can viewed here.

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Joe was invited to the Louisiana State University Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/joe-was-invited-to-the-louisiana-state-university-fraud-and-forensic-accounting-conference/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/joe-was-invited-to-the-louisiana-state-university-fraud-and-forensic-accounting-conference/#respond Wed, 25 Sep 2013 21:05:38 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2261 In July Joe was invited to speak at the LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference. The LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference gathers the best of the best in the fraud and forensic accounting world and brings them together for a two day conference. Joe had the privilege of speaking about 'The 10 Forensically Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Assumptions' he Continue Reading

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In July Joe was invited to speak at the LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference. The LSU Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference gathers the best of the best in the fraud and forensic accounting world and brings them together for a two day conference. Joe had the privilege of speaking about 'The 10 Forensically Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Assumptions' he developed during one of the main sessions.

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Joe Giving Tax Tips on News 12! http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/joe-giving-tax-tips-on-news-12/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/joe-giving-tax-tips-on-news-12/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2013 19:42:16 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2240 Joe recently appeared on News 12 New Jersey giving tax tips. See another clip here.

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Joe recently appeared on News 12 New Jersey giving tax tips.

See another clip here.

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Book Review in The CPA Journal http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/book-review-in-the-cpa-journal/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/book-review-in-the-cpa-journal/#respond Mon, 10 Jun 2013 20:37:09 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2227   I am honored to announce that my book Detecting Fraud in Organizations: Techniques, Tools and Resources was reviewed in the June 2013 issue of The CPA Journal. You can see the review here.

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I am honored to announce that my book Detecting Fraud in Organizations: Techniques, Tools and Resources was reviewed in the June 2013 issue of The CPA Journal. You can see the review here.

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Professor Petrucelli oversees: “An Honor’s Thesis Paper” http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/professor-petrucelli-oversees-an-honors-thesis-paper/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/professor-petrucelli-oversees-an-honors-thesis-paper/#respond Wed, 22 May 2013 20:54:45 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2177 Professor Joseph Petrucelli recently oversaw the preparation and finalization of an Honors thesis paper for one of his fraud students, Daniel O'Shaughnessy.

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The photo to the right shows Daniel O'Shaughnessy and Professor Petrucelli at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Professor Joseph Petrucelli recently oversaw the preparation and finalization of an Honors thesis paper for one of his fraud students, Daniel O'Shaughnessy.

The thesis paper Does the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) Framework Prevent Fraud? maintains the idea that the COSO framework is not keeping up with the modern fraudster. The paper goes on to compare the major financial frauds that have occurred in history, including Tulip Mania (considered to be the first recorded speculative or economic bubble, 1637) and the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme (considered to be the largest financial fraud in US history, 2008), to allow one to better understand the fraudster's thinking and to better safeguard the business processes.  Daniel O'Shaughnessy correctly identifies changes that need to made in organizations to allow for employees to "accept the COSO framework of internal controls as their own mission and help promote the proper awareness throughout the organization."

 

Daniel's thoughts on writing an Honors thesis paper:

As an aspiring CPA, this journey has given me both knowledge and exposure to the many areas of the accounting profession. Exploring the effectiveness of the COSO framework has given me an in depth perspective of the issues today's organizations face within the ever-changing work environment. This journey has required my complete dedication and a determination to produce the best final work product. Under the guidance of Joseph Petrucelli, one of New Jersey's most respected accounting professionals and author of Detecting Fraud in Organizations: Tools, Techniques and Resources, I have excelled to new levels of personal development and have benefited tremendously every step of the way. Buckle up as you prepare to embark on the journey of the COSO framework and begin to step inside the mind of the modern day fraudster.

Daniel's thesis paper can be read here.

If you would like send comments directly to Daniel, you can send your comments to danosean1@yahoo.com.

 

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One-Minute Fraud Mysteries http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/one-minute-fraud-mysteries/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/one-minute-fraud-mysteries/#respond Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:23:08 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2161 In Detecting Fraud in Organizations (Wiley Corporate F&A) Joseph Petrucelli presents his One-Minute Fraud Mysteries. These mysteries describe hypothetical situations that you can analyze for fraud. Here we present Xtranormal video versions of the One-Minute Fraud Mysteries. Watch the intro video and then check out the mysteries. Analyze the situation presented and determine if and where there is a risk Continue Reading

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In Detecting Fraud in Organizations (Wiley Corporate F&A) Joseph Petrucelli presents his One-Minute Fraud Mysteries. These mysteries describe hypothetical situations that you can analyze for fraud. Here we present Xtranormal video versions of the One-Minute Fraud Mysteries. Watch the intro video and then check out the mysteries. Analyze the situation presented and determine if and where there is a risk for fraud present.

Click the links below to download and watch the videos!

Intro Video

Mystery Intro - Link

Trust Us, Inc.

Trust Us, Inc. - Link

 

Check back soon. More to come!

 

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Why the 800 lb Friendly Gorilla http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/why-the-800-lb-friendly-gorilla/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/why-the-800-lb-friendly-gorilla/#respond Sat, 26 Jan 2013 20:07:34 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2135 So why did I choose the 800 Pound Friendly Gorilla as my book’s fraud fighting mascot?  I have come across a lot of interesting information since I began doing research for my book. I spent a lot of time looking up various animals and found the gorilla to be the best fit. Gorillas are a perfect choice because they project Continue Reading

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So why did I choose the 800 Pound Friendly Gorilla as my book’s fraud fighting mascot?  I have come across a lot of interesting information since I began doing research for my book. I spent a lot of time looking up various animals and found the gorilla to be the best fit. Gorillas are a perfect choice because they project an imposing presence yet possess a friendly and caring side. Let’s take a look at some more facts about the gorilla.

Gorillas have been around since the 5th century B.C. I thought it would be interesting to let you know that the largest gorilla ever recorded weighed 638 pounds.  Needless to say, gorillas can be intimidating. But, whether 638 pounds or 800 pounds the gorilla is not a symbol of force. My 800 pound friendly gorilla is imposing but does not use force in place of calm, rational, and proactive communication.

Gorillas live in groups of three to thirty. A group consists of different gorillas of varying age and gender. Most organizational processes operate in teams and are made up of different generations of people. Organizational cultures are unique and diverse. Gorillas act as a community and their leader, the adult male (silverback) gorilla, sets the tone. Gorillas act like people and are often perceived as a force to be reckoned with yet they protect their young and have many human qualities. Some researchers believe gorillas have spiritual feelings or religious sentiments. Interestingly enough gorillas learn how to behave from their mothers and other gorillas. It is so important that the proper ethical tone be displayed by the silverback that leads the others in the group. This is no different than with a board of directors, a CEO or other leaders in an organization who need to set an ethical tone for their organization

So what does a gorilla’s routine consist of?  They wake up between 6am-8am. Then they eat between 8am-10am. Then from 10am-2pm they eat, play, relax, and sleep. Then from 2pm-5pm they travel 300-6,000 feet searching and exploring for food and exercise. Then from 5pm-6pm they build a nest so they can sleep. Gorillas need schedules and structure just like people. Do the people in your organization have structure and direction?

Gorillas walk on all fours with the soles of their feet flat on the ground and the knuckles of their hands curled and planted on the ground. This to me makes then seem well grounded. Organizations need to maintain well-grounded and ethical people. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can walk to develop the correct ethical tone necessary to detect, deter and prevent fraud.

The reason I love 800 Pound Gorillas is that they create the necessary prospection to avoid the necessity to actually use force. When the male silverback adult gorilla stands up and starts beating its chest it is trying to intimidate its enemy so they do not have to fight.  People need to understand the consequences of their actions. The best way to do this is by creating the proper oversight that let’s employees know how to behave ethically.  The Gorilla is smart to avoid conflict and scare off the enemy using communication rather than force. No one wins when the only option is force. Another interesting thing is when gorillas are in distress they have behaviors that include diarrhea and strong body odor. Sound human yet?

My research revealed that gorillas have favorite foods. Some of their favorite foods are bamboo, thistles and wild celery, along with over 200 different types of leaves, tubers, flowers, fruit, fungi, and certain types of insects. Gorillas do not to have to drink water since all the moisture they need comes from all the foliage they consume through food. I thought this was interesting since we are so dependent on water. The gorilla has the ability to adapt around a resource. Organizations are continually being asked to do more with less, and like gorillas need to be good at adapting.

As stated in my book, the 800 Pound Friendly Gorilla loves to communicate and develop an ethical organization by knowing the people in the process with access to the value. The 800 Pound Friendly Gorilla makes sure that responsibilities are only assigned to people in the organization that are trustworthy.

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Follow the Money Excel Spreadsheet http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/follow-the-money-excel-spreadsheet/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/follow-the-money-excel-spreadsheet/#respond Tue, 22 Jan 2013 22:48:33 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=2076 Follow the Money - We are pleased to present our new spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was designed by Joe Petrucelli and team member Yingyang (Lok Yung) of Team 800 Lb. Friendly Gorilla. It is interactive and allows you to enter information about a person of interest and see if, potentially, there is unreported income or any lifestyle changes. While the spreadsheet Continue Reading

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Follow the Money -

We are pleased to present our new spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was designed by Joe Petrucelli and team member Yingyang (Lok Yung) of Team 800 Lb. Friendly Gorilla. It is interactive and allows you to enter information about a person of interest and see if, potentially, there is unreported income or any lifestyle changes.

While the spreadsheet can give you useful information that you can use in your investigation, remember that an increase in net worth does not necessarily indicate that someone has committed fraud. The spreadsheet is designed to identify facts, but even with these facts further examination will still be required. It is important to understand that only a judge and jury can determine if a fraud has taken place. A fraud investigator is merely a fact finder that assists a judge and jury in making a decision.

We think you will find our spreadsheet to be a useful tool. Click on the attached link for an explanation of the input fields.

 

Downloadable Source Documents:

  1. Follow the Money - Spreadsheet Instructions
  2. Follow the Money - Excel Spreadsheet

 

 

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Interview Question Exercise – The Case of Noah http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/the-case-of-noah-janitor-to-property-management-supervisor/ http://joepetrucelli.com/uncategorized/the-case-of-noah-janitor-to-property-management-supervisor/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2013 22:55:57 +0000 http://www.JoePetrucelli.com/?p=1915 The Case of Noah - Janitor to Property Management Supervisor - We have attached a sample case study for you to review. The exercise is for you to attempt to formulate a sound interview approach based on the case study. Do not look at our attached sample interviewing strategy until you have attempted your own approach. Remember, the more you do Continue Reading

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The Case of Noah - Janitor to Property Management Supervisor -

We have attached a sample case study for you to review. The exercise is for you to attempt to formulate a sound interview approach based on the case study. Do not look at our attached sample interviewing strategy until you have attempted your own approach. Remember, the more you do these practical exercises the better you will become.  The Spartan (Gene) assisted in the development of the exercise. Spartan will tell you it was not easy. Spartan learned to look at things differently as I hope you will after completing the exercise.

Downloadable Source Documents:

  1. Case Study Noah (Procurement)
  2. Sample Interviewing Strategy for Case Study

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