As professional investigators, we are in a unique position in today’s era of economic and social uncertainty. We are viewed by most potential clients to be part private security agents, part psychologists and part attorneys (while most of us carry none of these official designations). Our clients seek not only our ability to help identify and provide them with important facts to bolster their initial suspicions and/or help them solve sensitive problems, but also to share our own personal opinions regarding the matter at hand.
We develop such a deep and personal rapport with our clients that at times, we find ourselves intertwined with the client’s particular dilemma. We deal with very sensitive and sometimes illegal behaviors and are oftentimes presented with that most important of questions from our clients, “What would you do?” We must be extremely diligent and calculated in our responses in such a way as to not appear to be offering legal or moral counseling. While at the same time, we do not want to appear to be unsympathetic to our client’s needs.
As much as it is important to generate the most accurate and complete facts to help a client with their problem, it is equally as important to remember that it is still “their” problem. We have a legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to our clients to provide them with the best facts possible to allow them to make the most informed decision.
A suitable response to that most sensitive of questions, “What would you do” should be well rehearsed and communicated to the client their initial objective, your findings, and all possible scenarios. In the end the client will certainly appreciate the honesty and understand that they hired an investigator, not a therapist! Remember, an individual faced with uncertainty will typically trust those individuals closest to him/her including the person(s) responsible for presenting the information to them.
On another front, we must also not put ourselves in a position where we are so entrapped in a case or determined to reach a particular objective, that we push all other facets of our own lives aside to “chase the rabbit.” There is certainly a fine line between leaving no stone unturned and knowing when to draw the line in the sand. We need to be both responsive as well as logical when we take on certain sensitive cases for our clients, if not for them, then ourselves. This is the business we chose and for those who enjoy the taste of success when exceeding a client’s expectations, we are equally as devastated when we fall short. Balance is certainly the key and we must remain diligent in our own skins to remain focused for the next opportunity.
The most effective way to accomplish this is to not provide false assurances or guarantees from the onset of the case. When we assure a client that the objective will be met, we better deliver or risk losing all credibility from that client (as well as any future referrals). No matter how “reachable” an objective may be, it is always best to set the bar low and simply communicate to the client that all legal and ethical attempts will be made to accomplish the matter at hand. Remember, less is more and ultimately, the client will certainly appreciate your honesty. In addition, if and when you do come through with flying colors on presenting the information requested, your “image” to the client will be viewed even that more favorably.
Our responsibilities as investigators are complex enough and we need to take every opportunity to learn from both prior successes and pitfalls. Our relentless pursuit of helping our clients with their most sensitive of situations engrosses us at times to lose focus. In the end, we are not therapists nor does everyone respond to situations in the same way. If we are not careful and allow ourselves to be too entrenched into the situation, we may soon find ourselves lying on that couch!
About the Author:
Kevin M. Cosgrove, CFE is a licensed Private Investigator in New York as well as Certified Fraud Examiner. He specializes in investor fraud and corporate due diligence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org