London-based Baker Tilly International, a network of independent accounting and business services firms, is aggressively marketing its forensic accounting services to women who are anticipating divorces.
In a recent press release, Baker Tilly explained that accountants can help in the following areas:
- Uncovering hidden business assets. Forensic accountants can uncover acts taken by husbands to hide their assets or depress the value of the assets. "We have, on occasion, been required to trace assets both within the UK and outside, where husbands have attempted to transfer assets to avoid their responsibilities," says Michael Taub, a forensic specialist at Baker Tilly.
- Determining true business profits. "There are often suspicions," explains Mr. Taub, "that yearly accounts enormously understate the true profit of a company and therefore constitute misleading information regarding the capital value which the wife should benefit from." To uncover understatements, Mr. Taub says, forensic accountants scrutinize inconsistencies between declared income and the lifestyle of the couple during the marriage.
- Building a protective financial dossier. Mr. Taub explains that women anticipating divorce should build a "protective financial dossier" to document their lifestyles. His advice: "Subject to legal advice, retain hard evidence (e.g., copies of credit card bills, restaurant bills, club memberships, and store card account details that affirm their marital expenditure levels). . . Regarding employees, get the names of everyone who could be colluding with your husband (e.g., his personal assistant, the finance director, or someone in the accounting department) and make friends with them. There is no reason to presume that such people will not be prepared to help you reach a fair settlement."
- Helping to preserve settlement funds. "It's common for spouses who have received a large lump sum to spend the bulk of it within a few months of their divorce," explains Mr. Taub. "Unfortunately, this sum was designed to provide for their reasonable needs throughout the remainder of their lives. We do advise divorcees to receive professional advice regarding an appropriate investment strategy following their divorce settlement."
Baker Tilly is the 10th largest network in the world by fee income and is represented by 109 firms in 59 countries, with a global fee income of $1.4 billion and 16,000 staff worldwide. Its U.S. member firms include Eisner LLP in New York and Vitale, Caturano & Company PC in Boston.