Say there’s a restaurant fire. You see flames and smoke. Glenn Newman sees a story.
As Practice Leader of the Forensic, Litigation and Valuation Services group at ParenteBeard, an accounting firm that serves thousands of businesses across the country from 16 offices, Glenn could end up investigating what happened – not just before the fire but way before, going back years through the books and records to analyze the dollars.
He and his team handle issues like this all the time. For example, they assist in shareholder disputes: Say one company’s shareholder is suing the majority shareholder because he thinks they’re trying to squeeze him out. That becomes Glenn’s problem. Or it could be an acquisition dispute – maybe somebody is accused of being overpaid or underpaid, and that affects how a major business deal is going down. It’s Glenn’s job to say for sure.
In the involuntary barbecue situation, he and his team would work on finding out if the fire could have had to do more with the restaurant’s finances than with its wiring. More importantly, they help the courts decide what should happen to the restaurant now. “If I see that you lost between $300,000 and $2M each year for the last six years,” he says, “And now you're closed for nine months and you're suggesting you would have made two million dollars? I don't think so.”
Welcome to the world of forensic accounting. Hunting down the truth without dusting for fingerprints. “I have to consider what they've sworn to in their tax returns and what their financial statements and their books and records show,” he points out.
Having already testified over 75 times, Glenn is cool, calm and well prepared on the stand. Given his experience, chances are he has crossed paths with the opposing party's attorneys and experts, and may have even testified before the presiding judge. His status as an expert witness is further bolstered by the surplus of suffixes after his name: CPA, ABV (Accredited in Business Valuation), CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics) and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner). Add MBA (Master of Business Administration in Economics/Finance) to that list for good measure – and for further evidence that Glenn understands business as well as an appreciation for the legal process.
Still, the process is “always nerve-wracking,” in his words, and Glenn estimates that “Every time you give a deposition or testify at trial you lose one month off the end of your life.” He enjoys what he does anyway, so he’s hoping he has lots and lots of months left to spare. “I love this stuff,” he says. “It’s really fascinating. And, you know, they pay us to do it too.”
Also neat is Glenn’s willingness to lend a hand to others coming up. He sits on the exam-writing committee for the CFF and on the editorial board for the Journal of Accountancy, and he finished a three-year term for the FVS Executive Committee of the AICPA. As if that weren't enough, he has also chaired the AICPA's National Forensic & Litigation Conference. So all that wisdom he’s accumulated is steadily being redistributed. “I’m a big believer in volunteering and giving back to the profession,” he says.
Ask his coworkers about Glenn’s magnanimity, and they’ll confirm it as well. “Lots of firms don’t let anyone but senior partners testify,” he says, but Glenn loves putting talented young colleagues on the witness stand. “I get the most joy out of seeing some of our younger people experience success.”
The moral of the story: Working with Glenn is a good idea. Testifying against him, not so much.