Clients regularly ask us how we manage to deliver high quality due diligence time and time again. Is there a set of standards we work toward and how does the assurance process work? What’s the secret sauce?
To answer these questions and more, we spoke with Linda Huang, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Research Operations — along with some of the more senior members of IntegrityRisk’s talented research team — to get a look behind the scenes of our due diligence standards and what it takes to deliver high quality research.
Can you explain your approach to due diligence quality assurance at IntegrityRisk?
We understand quality is still – and always will be – a top priority for our clients. It’s why they choose us as their due diligence provider. Quality is central to everything we do, at all levels of the business, across all of our locations.
The main goal is always to deliver to our clients a product that helps them make the best business decisions for their particular needs.
Our due diligence research process has been replicated by many others, but the quality of our research cannot be matched. Clients rely on us to meet their regulatory requirements and there is no room for error when the stakes are so high. There can be no cutting corners!
How do you deliver quality on a consistent basis?
From the most experienced employee to the new joiner, we encourage everyone to challenge the research and go that extra mile to find the answers. Whether it is assessing new data sources or identifying on-the-ground support, our aim is to leave no stone unturned.
As a business, we believe in responsive risk management. So when it comes to achieving our due diligence standards, it’s a constantly evolving process that involves everyone across the business. We’re always reviewing our quality standards, refining them, and adjusting them as new information and sources become available.
What is your review methodology for case reports?
All of our research is closely supervised, and each client report undergoes an intensive, multi-layer peer review process prior to it being issued. If further research is deemed to be required, the report must go through the review process again once this has been added. While this adds extra steps into the process, we know that clients value the time and effort we put into our due diligence quality assurance.
How do you instill due diligence quality standards during the training process?
We’re up front about our approach to quality from the very beginning of an employee’s journey with us. Through the onboarding process, a variety of research analysts and senior staff conduct training sessions, allowing new hires to hear different perspectives and learn various approaches to research. Incorporating test cases into the training process also helps new hires put their new skills into action and enables the training team to provide specific, targeted feedback on quality standards right away.
Our training helps an analyst, who may have previously applied his or her talents to academia, journalism, or some other field, apply those talents to due diligence.
When it comes to producing quality research, what makes the difference between a good analyst and a great one?
A great analyst approaches each report holistically, and understands how different types of risks may compound and intersect. They are attuned to the nuances of different sectors and regions, and can quickly familiarize themselves with new industries, legal systems, and corporate structures. A great analyst will put themselves in the client’s shoes, taking care to provide a highly detailed analysis of significant issues enabling the client to make informed decisions based on the most up-to-date information.
A great analyst’s decision to pursue their gut instinct in many occasions identifies “red flags” that may have not previously been found.
Can you provide an expedited request while still maintaining the same quality standards?
We can definitely expedite clients’ requests, and have extensive experience in providing clients exactly what they need on an expedited basis. By helping guide them to understand what the main focus should be for extremely urgent turnarounds, we are able to maintain our due diligence standards.
Can you share any examples of casework that shows the quality process in action?
We were asked to assist with a project where an employee made a whistleblower complaint, which stated that three other employees of the firm had a connection or stake in certain vendors and were funneling work to those vendors, potentially receiving kickbacks. This started as a public record case and was escalated to on-the-ground source inquiries after our researchers realized there was more to the story. By going the extra mile and relying on our high quality standards, we were able to reveal the full picture.
While the accused employees maintained low online profiles, in-country corporate record research confirmed that one employee was a current director of one of the vendors in question and was previously a partner with another vendor.
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