The Fraud Examiner

Executive Hiring: Don't Get Tripped Up By Cracks in The Pavement

By Chelsey Franks

Vice President, Investigations

Bishops Services

April 2015

If you’re accustomed to running standard, top-line background checks on your executive-level candidates, current executives and potential business partners, you might be surprised to know that you’re barely skimming the surface of all there is to know when it comes to the senior executive vetting process. As a seasoned investigator in the field, I’d like to share some insight into what can be found in those possible “cracks in the pavement” — before you and your organization find yourselves face-planted on the ground with a bruised reputation and bank account!

To begin, say you’re provided with a résumé by an individual you are considering for an executive-level position or as a partner in a potential business venture. If you simply go down the list and make good-faith efforts to confirm each employment reference, you’re missing a wealth of valuable (and relevant) information. First, are there any gaps in their employment history? If so, why? What were they doing during that timeframe and could it be a risk to your business? One such investigation conducted by my firm uncovered that a subject was a former boxer turned hedge fund manager — a fact that he did not want known. This was uncovered by identifying an employment gap and conducting customized, investigative press research that uncovered several media references to his side-gig. This individual had also formed a boxing promotion company which landed in federal court for a breach of contract claim filed by one of the athletes it represented.

On a similar note, when it comes to a person’s prior employers, since you likely won’t be conducting separate screens on these companies, you need a seasoned investigations team with decades of experience to spot potentially harmful patterns. In one such instance, it was uncovered that the CFO candidate our client was vetting had worked for four prior companies who had gone bankrupt — all of which occurred during his tenure in top financial roles there.

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