I received my Master of Science in Forensic Accounting from the University of Portsmouth, and my Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University. After spending just under a year working at one of the ‘big four’ accounting firms, I am now doing my PhD under the supervision of Mr Richard Trafford and Professor Russell Craig, funded by the University of Portsmouth. I am also looking to qualify as a Certified Fraud Examiner.
Identifying Psycholinguistic Markers of Financial Distress and Deception in U.K. FTSE 350 Corporate Narrative Disclosures from 2009-2017
PhD Thesis summary
The credibility of financial information is becoming a major cause for concern following the increase in the number of high profile accounting scandals over the past decade. With fraudulent activities continuing to increase, enhanced regulatory action has been found to be an inadequate deterrent (Hogan et al., 2008). With top-level senior management found to be involved in 89% of all corporate fraud cases discovered between 1990 and 2007 (Beasley et al., 2010), it has been suggested that new methods may be needed in order to enhance an auditors ability to detect fraudulent activity.
Recently, attention has been directed to the potential for the language of senior executives to contain signals of impending financial distress (Humphreys et al., 2010; Craig et al., 2012). My proposed research will look to develop methods to detect deception in the communication of financial information and its qualitative context to the financial markets by senior corporate executives. The central thesis is that for reasons of deception or information management, internalised pressures cause behavioural changes which result in marginal deviations in the use of language, which can have a significant underlying meaning when communicating with financial markets.
Through the analysis of the written and oral language of senior executives, using ‘close reading’ techniques and text analysis software, such linguistic techniques could offer considerable potential for use by auditors and regulators in assessing business risk. The contribution of my PhD research will be to develop a model for evaluating free form market communications to provide an early warning of financial vulnerability or distress by offering an additional “red flag” landscape. This will enable an increased depth of vision and the potential to triangulate symptoms from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives to assist auditors in their investigations.