Behind every business background request is a client with a mixture of assets and reputation at stake.
Our clients come to us because they need to better understand whether an individual under consideration for a position of trust can cause them financial or reputational harm.
But that’s where the similarities end—because a background check can mean something completely different to two people.
When a request comes in, our first question is, “What’s the most important thing you want to know?” The reason we ask is not to limit your investigation or look for things that aren’t there, but to focus the investigation in the exact direction you need it to go.
Let’s look at the most common things people come to us to find out.
Past disputes involving the subject
We’ve found that for some people, it’s important to know if the individual has been sued by former business partners or employers. They may also want to know if the individual has filed lawsuits against their partners or employers in the past, which might reveal a litigious streak.
For these clients, prior legal problems are seen as a possible harbinger of future ones.
Criminal activity naming the subject
Some people want to know if there’s been major criminal activity, while other people don’t care. It depends on the nature of the company, the type of crime, and the sort of exposure this person is expected to have.
For example, bad driving records and DUIs are rarely an issue for business clients who might be entering into a lucrative deal or vetting the executive team of a company they wish to acquire. But these relatively minor crimes may be a dealbreaker when hiring the head of a large nonprofit that works with at-risk youth.
Regulatory complaints against the subject
If someone is joining your investment firm, you might want to know if the person was accused of failing to follow the rules of regulatory agencies like FINRA and the SEC when they were a stockbroker. In this type of background investigation, we would look at the subject’s track record at each company where they worked.
A subject’s life in the public record
Sometimes, clients don’t care about disputes or other problems as long as they aren’t part of the public record. For these clients, avoiding embarrassment is the primary goal. In those investigations, we’re sure to include searches for news coverage, review their social media activity and understand their online footprint. We’ll check all standard public records for criminal activity and verify employment and other claims, to be sure key information has not been omitted, inflated, or invented.
A subject’s financial stability
Clients who are considering a major business deal with another party may not be deterred by prior lawsuits but want to ensure the financial stability of the other party. Our investigation would confirm assets and include a review to make sure the individual is not coming out of a bankruptcy, for instance, or subject to any liens or judgments.
The client’s “gut check”
Sometimes, clients just need to know: is this person who they say they are? For long-term professional or personal financial relationships, notable lies may be taken as red flags.
We’ll verify claims the subject made to the client personally, or claims in general and search for other indicators of the person’s character and reputation. If appropriate, we make inquiries with well-placed people in the subject’s industry.
What to know before you call us
It’s worth mentioning that online searches are not enough—a thorough background investigation still requires investigative skills and access, and oftentimes manual effort.
When you’re ready to get started, think about what’s most important for you to find out. Bring all the information you already have about your subject. We’ll discuss your goals and our process with you, and work with discretion and determination to get the answers you need for you to make critical business decisions with confidence.