In this Sponsor Spotlight, we speak with Jim Barratt of Alvarez & Marsal. Jim is a Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal Dispute Analysis & Forensic Services in Washington, D.C. Previously, Jim was an accountant in the Enforcement Division of the SEC in its D.C. headquarters for six years.
JB: I am a Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal Dispute Analysis & Forensic Services, which specializes in forensic accounting, dispute consulting and forensic technology services. We provide analytical and investigative services to law firms, corporate counsel, corporate boards and management of companies that are facing complex accounting and financial issues, disputes and regulatory probes. My primary focus is on assisting counsel with SEC enforcement proceedings and related accounting issues, corporate investigations and FCPA matters.
SD: What trends are you seeing now in the world of SEC enforcement and investigations?
JB: We continue to see a focus by the SEC and the Department of Justice on FCPA cases and would expect that to continue in the future. In addition to the perpetual insider trading and financial fraud investigations, there appears to be an increased emphasis on investigations into the actions of various players related to the “market crisis,” as well as a myriad of Ponzi schemes. I tend to agree with the views being expressed that the SEC is re-organizing in a way that will likely result in an increasingly active Division of Enforcement bringing more cases more rapidly.
SD: How do you typically get involved in new matters—via the company itself, its outside counsel, or some other way?
JB: We may be brought in on new matters through outside counsel, in-house counsel, company management and board members, and through internal referrals from my A&M colleagues. Typically, I am contacted by attorneys at law firms with whom I have worked with previously, as well as attorneys who were referred to me by their colleagues or their friends at other law firms.
SD: How does your previous experience as an accountant in the Enforcement Division of the SEC influence or aid your work now at A&M?
JB: I had a very rewarding career as an accountant in the Enforcement Division. During those years, I gained valuable experience in conducting a variety of investigations, analyzing and communicating complex accounting issues, and developing a discipline of identifying and focusing on the most relevant facts while sorting through mountains of information. With my prior SEC experience, I am in a position to provide attorneys and their clients facing an SEC investigation with an independent and informed perspective and technical analysis that can assist in understanding and evaluating the state of affairs.
SD: You became president of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Historical Society on June 1, 2009. What is that organization and why do you devote your time to it?
JB: The SEC Historical Society is a non-profit organization, separate and independent from the SEC, with a mission of preserving and sharing the history of the SEC and financial regulation through its virtual museum and archive at www.sechistorical.org. I have enjoyed being involved with the Society as a volunteer leader for many years and I am honored to be serving as President this year. My interest in supporting the Society stems from a desire to make available to everyone the significant developments, issues and people related to financial regulation since the founding of the SEC, so that we may learn, appreciate, research and enjoy this remarkable history.