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                                    Success ingredient




      Summit
                           of success




[ 14 ] A Plus   +   December 2006
Forensic accountant Guy Norman knows the
importance of keeping one’s balance when
climbing to the top, writes Ajay Shamdasani

G
          uy Norman, a director of              Having grown up and been              Climbing for charity
          forensic and dispute services     schooled at Guernsey’s Elizabeth          Notwithstanding a busy professional
          at Deloitte, is someone who       College, Norman moved to Hong Kong        life, Norman has also taken up
has got to the top by getting to the        in 1990 and joined the largest local      mountain climbing as a way to raise
bottom of things. Involvement in            accountancy firm in the city, which        money for charity. “In Guernsey, from
high-profile probate cases of Hong           later merged with Deloitte, Touche &      a young age, we were always involved
Kong celebrities has made Norman’s          Tohmatsu in 1998. He then attained an     in charitable pursuits – it’s in my blood
career interesting. He dealt with the       M.B.A. from Heriot-Watt University in     to help other people and myself.”
estate of deceased local billionaire and    Edinburgh, Scotland.                           Norman was deeply influenced
Chinachem Group tycoon Teddy Wang               In the late 1990s, he began           by Christina Noble’s books about her
Teh-huei and that of the late Hong          specializing in forensic accounting,      experiences in Vietnam, including
Kong pop singer and actress Anita           then still in its nascent stages.         her encounters with street children
Mui Yim-Fong. In both instances he          The practice then used to consist         while she roamed the streets of Ho
investigated and deciphered records to      predominantly of litigation support       Chi Minh City. While he was trying
ascertain what assets were held within      and entailed the examination of           to think of new ways to raise money
private estates – onerous tasks since       balance sheets and the location           for the Christina Noble Foundation,
both estates had corporate interests        of hidden assets in companies or          a friend suggested that he take up
with vast paper trails.                     businesses involved in disputes. His      mountain climbing. Although not a
                                            experience dealing with distressed        technical climber, Norman – an active
Ferreting out the truth                     businesses used his forensic skills       and avid hiking enthusiast since the
Of success in his area of forensic          to discover why the companies in          early 1990s and a participant in the
accountancy, he stresses the importance     question fell apart.                      Maclehose Trailwalker and Action Asia
of having natural investigative,                “It is an evolution,” Norman says.    races – jumped at the chance to test his
interviewing and technological skills.      “Many people come with a insolvency,      mettle and make a difference.
“The key attribute is a skeptical mind,”    bankruptcy or audit background and             In time he became a director of
he states. “You can’t trust things on the   then go into forensic accounting.”        the foundation – an international
surface, especially with balance sheets     His own work encompassed                  organization committed to aiding
and profit and loss statements.”             investigations leading to the discovery   children in need of nutrition, medical
     Norman says forensic accountants       of assets held by Hong Kong entities      treatment, education, vocational
must not simply doubt everything,           on the mainland and in other wide         training, job placement and protection
but develop an ability to look behind       and varied international jurisdictions    from economic or sexual exploitation.
numbers and “ferret out the truth           such as Bermuda, the British Virgin            Norman’s first mountaineering
                                                                                                                                             PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN CHING




from invoices and ledgers, using a          Islands, Panama and the Cayman            challenge was in March 2004: Mount
combination of intuition, common            Islands: Exotic locales for a man         Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. While he
sense and... their investigative minds.”    who longed to see the world               noticed the strong effects of altitude
Clear communication and reporting           outside the narrow confines of the         above 3,000 metres, he was able to
skills are also required.                   Channel Islands.                          ascend the summit of 4,093 metres



                                                                                                           [ 15 ] A Plus   + December 2006
                                               Success ingredient




      The key attribute
      is a skeptical mind
      – you can’t trust
      things on the
      surface, especially
      with balance sheets
      and profit and
      loss statements.
     and, most importantly, he and his 14           Norman plans to participate in        become grounded in the area in which
     co-climbers raised HK$500,000. Due         the Gobi March in May 2008, a 250-        they wish to work, the sooner they can
     to the effects of altitude, his initial     kilometre, seven-day event in northwest   achieve it.
     mountain climbing excursion was not        China (near the Mongolian border) on          However, with paradoxical wit,
     as easy as he might have thought, but      behalf of the foundation.                 he also maintains: “Don’t get too
     he remained undeterred.                                                              specialized, but sample a bit of
          His next effort in 2005 was            Maintaining an equilibrium                everything and work out what you
     attempting Tanzania’s Mount                Physical activity is necessary for        like.” For his specialty, he basks in “the
     Kilimanjaro – the tallest freestanding     Norman to keep a balance in his           sense of fulfilment of getting to the
     mountain in the world, measuring           life. He also plays squash, football      bottom of fraud, who did it and what
     5,895 metres. This time, altitude          and hockey, and runs. Hong Kong           they did – it’s just a fascinating task.”
     sickness really knocked him back, but      differs from other places where he             He bemusedly contends that since
     he did well, given his lack of formal      has worked, largely because of the        the services offered by the accounting
     skill and training, by reaching a          long hours routinely worked here. To      profession have become so diverse, he
     height of 5,400 metres and raising         maintain a modicum of normalcy he         regularly has to explain to his colleagues
     HK$2 million.                              lives by example: coming in early and     what forensic accounting is.
          Altitude sickness aside, Norman       leaving reasonable early, too. He urges       Norman’s own success ingredient
     had other, more personal reasons for       all professionals to “have a balance      is his unabashed, proactive approach
     turning back from Kilimanjaro: “Two-       between family and other interests.”      to time management, which he says is
     thirds of the way up the final pitch...          His advice to young accountancy      “ruthless.” “Just be strict... with your
     I kept my family in mind... Though I       entrants is to maintain a sense of        own timetable and know that you
     was disappointed to not make it to the     equilibrium and perspective about their   have got to get things done in a timely
     top, in retrospect, I think I made the     career as “the majority of their longer   manner during professional hours. You
     right choice.” Norman’s concerns were      days will be completed while people are   have got to manage time, be it a small
     well founded: Two climbers (from other     younger.” They need to moderate their     six-minute increment or an hour; you
     groups) died during the week they          longer, pressurized hours and not let     have got to manage to find time outside
     spent on the mountain. “Fitness doesn’t    them go on for too long past the early    of work to spend with family and
     make a difference at high altitudes,”       professional days. More specifically,      friends, and keep reasonably fit.”
     he avers, “only how you deal with the      Norman recommends new recruits                Prudent advice from a professional
     altitude – and some do so better           determine where they want to go in        who lives up to the ancient ideal – a
     than others.”                              their 20s, because the sooner they        sound mind in a sound body. A+



[ 16 ] A Plus   +   December 2006

				
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