As investigators we specialize in a narrow field having to do with finance, due diligence, and intellectual property. There are important related fields of investigation, such as locating people, understanding how different structures and assets are titled, and many others — but they are all related to our core competencies.
What we have been noticing is a migration of “credentials” of other well meaning and capable professionals. They are capable in their own field, but are now claiming that they want to do what we have done for over twenty years. Specifically, I am referring to some accounting and expert valuation firms. Accountants and accounting firms are pressed for revenue, and they are looking to expand into new areas. While they can analyze the metrics of a business, and they may be able to trace transactions, that does not make them experts in financial investigations. They are knowledgeable, but they are not experts in financial investigations. The same is true with valuation firms — while they are good at reconstructing balance sheets and opining on values of an enterprise, even the value of intangible assets, they are not experts in due diligence or the sanctity of the provenance of a particular item of intellectual property.
Likewise, we are knowledgeable of accounting and knowledgeable about business valuations, but we are not experts in those fields.
Just because we are knowledgeable and can see ourselves as an expert in a related field does not mean that we are experts. Experts are educated not only formally in the specifics of their profession, but also, and I might add more importantly, by their experience in their profession. For it is this combination of knowledge and the saturation of experience that makes an expert an expert.
Further, investigators are licensed and bonded. Accountants do not need to be licensed unless they are Certified Public Accountants. I know of no licensing requirements for business appraisers. Thus, in the future, if I see another professional claiming to be able to conduct investigations, I will forward the claim to the nearest licensing body for their immediate attention — as should any CPA or Lawyer — or Plumber — if they find others claiming an ability to do work in their licensed fields.