Double-Checking the Books

At Deloitte & Touche, Megan Hess specializes in providing financial advice in litigations and fraud investigations

I'm currently a senior associate in the Financial Advisory Services (FAS) practice of Deloitte & Touche in Atlanta.

Specifically, I support the Dispute Consulting, Forensic Investigations, and Reorganization Services business lines. As part of the growing team of about 40 Deloitte FAS professionals in Atlanta, I research, analyze, and calculate potential economic damages in legal disputes and fraud investigations, typically under the direction of a partner or senior manager.

Essentially, we provide the in-depth financial expertise and investigative skills that can be used by legal counsel to argue a case involving accounting for damages, or to help uncover fraudulent activity in a corporation. In light of the recent high-profile accounting scandals like Enron, companies are more eager than ever to implement antifraud measures and to prosecute the perpetrators. It's eye-opening to see the real-world applications of the ethics discussions we had in business school.

On first glance, this job sounds a bit more glamorous than it really is. I do spend a fair amount of time searching through archive records, making copies, and keying in data. The phrase "digging for a needle in a haystack" comes to mind. I think that you have to be patient and enjoy investigative work to succeed in this job. Even so, I've been asked to play the role of acting manager on a few of our smaller cases, which means that in addition to research and analysis, I also get to do the majority of the report writing and project management. I've really enjoyed this added responsibility.


7:30 a.m. -- It's a Monday morning, and I'm at work bright and early to get a jump on my week. My husband and I will be on vacation next week, and there's so much to get done before I go. My work is highly unpredictable, so I have a lot to finish before 10 new things end up on my plate by lunchtime. Today, I need to complete a set of summary schedules to share with our client regarding a royalty payment dispute. This is a very typical project for our practice.

9:00 a.m. -- I just finished the first of today's many informal update meetings. All of us juggle numerous projects at a time, sometimes each with a different manager, so this job definitely tests your time-management and teaming skills. This morning's meeting was about a case where we're investigating lost profits in a matter involving an international telecommunications company.

10:00 a.m. -- I just got a phone call from a partner in our Chicago office to discuss a lead on a new project here in Atlanta. I'm very excited about this opportunity because it's rare for someone at my level to bring new business into the firm. Our primary customers are litigation attorneys and corporate general counsel, so I managed to uncover this particular opportunity by having lunch with a friend of mine who's an attorney. Let's hope the networking pays off.

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