Jay Fishman talks about the benefits of Attending the 2016 AICPA/AAML Conference on Divorce and the role of experts in cases requiring division of assets.
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Can you give us a sneak peek at your presentation, “Beware of Experts Bearing False Gifts”, for the 2016 AICPA/AAML National Conference on Divorce?
Dan Jaffe, a very famous and well-known trial and family lawyer from Beverly Hills will be joining me on a topic I call “Beware of Experts Bearing False Gifts”. This topic is about how over the last several years I’ve noticed experts relying more on statistical and financial models as a way of convincing users that their opinions are more empirical and objective. And to some extent, they’ve succeeded. However, all of these carry some degree of pitfalls.
Our presentation will be broken down into three different segments. The first is the one I’m particularly excited about, and it’s called “Correlation Is Not Causation”. It deals with measuring active and passive increases in separate property in a marital estate, and the techniques used to measure the passive increases. I’ve been increasingly seeing people use and misuse certain statistical techniques to try to determine that. We’ll be talking about their use and misuse, and I think the people who come to the seminar and Conference will find that interesting.
The second thing we’re going to talk about is how people end up changing the capital structure of a firm – that’s how firms finance their debt equity mix , as a way of sometimes manipulating the results. We’ll also be showing some examples of that. and why is is wrong
Lastly, there’s the well-known axiom that you should always ask for five years of financial information. We’re going to show instances, statistically, where this could be misleading because the trend is in the industry – and the economy – is longer or shorter than the supposedly mandatory five years.
Conference goers will get, at the least, a smattering of what we see in practice. Dan will probably comment on some of what I’ve addressed and how it fits into a trial technique. So, I welcome people to come. I think they will find the whole Conference entertaining and rewarding, and hopefully they’ll find my presentation worthwhile.
Is your presentation geared more toward someone who has a great deal of experience already, or will there be something for everyone? Do you need a certain level of education and experience to attend your session, or can anyone attending the Conference get something out of it?
I think it’s more for the generalist. The purpose of the presentation isn’t to teach these techniques, but rather to alert lawyers and even experts the red flags in using them.
Frankly, it will all come down to whether or not the analysis makes common sense. And so, I think it’ll cover a broad range of specialities and people will get something out of it no matter how advanced they think they are. It’s really a kind of common-sense approach to these type of topics cloaked in a statistical veneer.
This sounds like it’s pretty crucial information for anyone with a divorce practice.
I think experts and lawyers who use them need to become more sensitive to these issues. And what I’m hoping is when they see this presentation they’ll come out with the right questions to ask. That’s what’s most important. And when they talk to their experts – their partners in the terms of the assignment – they’ll be able to ask them the questions that are necessary to make sure the analysis holds up.
Jay, you’re also participating in a panel discussion. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Well, last year this was a real hoot. Jim Hitchner is the moderator of, I think they call it the Battle Royal, and it’s two well-known, very experienced and top-flight experts: Chris Ron Seigneur and Nancy Fannon, and me. We’re asking hypothetical questions and we kind of have a conversation among ourselves and are pretty critical of some of the issues. Jim doesn’t hold back. I mean, he asks a lot of the hard questions that we try to deal with every day.
I think people who will come and listen to this will see the process that three pretty experienced experts go through when they come up with some of these answers. Each one of us has our own little specialties, but as a practical matter, we have a great dialogue among ourselves and nobody pulls any punches. I mean, people say I don’t agree with that and here’s why. So, people get to see the process and how experts come to some of the answers that we give.
Will you be accepting any questions from the audience at this panel discussion?
I think that’s going to be Jim Hitchner’s call. In the past if people had sent in written questions, he might include that in his presentation. So, to the extent that some of the Conference goers have such questions, it might be a good idea to let you or someone else who is organizing the Conference know ahead of time, and maybe Jim will incorporate them. We don’t get to see the questions and don’t know what they are. So, it’s kind of an impromptu question and answer period.
Interesting. So, you’re answering questions on the fly?
Much like court, much like court.
With so many other conferences sponsored by legal and financial organizations, why should someone choose to attend the AICPA/AAML National Conference on Divorce? In other words, if they’re only going to one conference this year, why should this be the one?
It’s a unique one. We have conferences in which CPAs talk to CPAs, and others where lawyers talk to lawyers, and sometimes CPAs talk to lawyers or lawyers talk to CPAs – but in this case, it’s the combination of both. And the lawyers with their practical questions of dealing day-to-day with these kind of issues, and experts who equally have practical experience in doing this.
As I said in my talk last year, I think the other thing that happens is you get to rub shoulders with people who do this work every day, both experts and lawyers. And even in those impromptu luncheon or breaks, you get to ask and answer questions that people see every day. So, I think it is the combination of having both lawyers and accountants and experts as participants and as observers that makes this really a unique program. And a program I’m looking forward to participating in, and perhaps sending some of our folks to as well.
I am wondering if you think this conference, with lawyers and financial professionals rubbing shoulders, has increased the appreciation and respect that lawyers and financial professionals have for each other’s work?
I certainly hope so. I value lawyers that ask the right questions when we work together. I’ve always called it the lawyer/expert partnership in terms of both being involved in the assignment, and both interested in seeing the proper result. So, yes, I think that’s what makes it really unique, and I think that’s what really makes it worthwhile.
Hopefully people will leave with a better understanding of some of these issues. What we all try to do is take very complicated ideas and distill them to their essence. Perhaps when someone observes that kind of process, they’ll be able to appreciate what the lawyers go through, and what the experts go through, when they present their analysis.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. It sounds like it’s going to be a really interesting conference, and I urge everyone listening to this to attend if they possibly can.
Thank you for asking me.
Jay E. Fishman is a Managing Director of Financial Research Associates and has been actively engaged in the appraisal profession since 1974. He specializes in the valuations of business enterprises and their intangible assets. He has co-authored several books, including the highly acclaimed Guide to Business Valuations (with Shannon Pratt and James Hitchner), and Standards of Value (with Shannon Pratt and William Morrison). He has also written numerous articles on business valuations as well as qualifying as an expert witness and providing testimony in 12 states.
The regular rate for the Conference is $1,425. There is an additional charge for the pre-conference workshops. Click here for more information about the Conference and to register. Several discounts are available:
- Early Bird Discount – register by April 4, 2016 and receive $75 off.
- Discounts for AICPA and AAML members – $300.
Both discounts can be combined. Click here for more information and to register.
Family Lawyer Magazine is Offering Additional Incentives
- All first-time attendees will receive a complimentary listing in the Professional Directory on FamilyLawyerMagazine.com for one year – a $999.00 value!
- An attendee who registers a first-time attendee will also receive a complimentary listing in the Professional Directory on FamilyLawyerMagazine.com for one year (a $999.00 value). Both attendees need to be registered in the same transaction.
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