26 April 2016

With the NBA playoffs underway, heated discussions abound about who will take the title. One thing that the basketball community can agree on however is that reigning MVP Steph Curry is having a once-in-a-lifetime season. But how does this relate to forensic accounting? Allow me to elaborate.

This season Steph Curry and his team, the Golden State Warriors, set a new record for regular season wins, beating the Chicago Bulls whose 1995-96 season record was thought to be unbreakable. On top of that, Steph Curry sunk 402 3-pointers, smashing his previous season-record of 286. It’s almost off the chart!

Steph Curry - 3 pointers
 

This feat by Steph Curry, is known in statistics as an “outlier”. An outlier is a value that is much larger or smaller than other values in a data set. Outliers provide important information in the world of forensic accounting. Some examples include:

  • Valuations - an outlier could be a sign of a misprice of an asset when compared to other comparable transactions in the market. This is frequently seen in post-acquisition disputes.
  • Investigations - an outlier in a payroll or expenses systems identified using data analytical techniques can be a red-flag. The outlier could be a sign of a poor control system and sometimes even fraud.
  • IP Theft - an outlier in the size of data transferred from an ex-employee to an external device could suggest intellectual property theft, especially if the person has moved to a competitor.

While not all outliers are necessarily signs of problems (just look at Steph Curry’s accomplishments!), they may call out for further investigation.