Over the course of Patricia Harris’ career as a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV), she has developed a stellar reputation for her steadfast commitment to clients, peers, and the profession. With an interest in continuous learning, she leads by example through active participation in the industry.
Patricia’s accomplishments demonstrate her dedication to the future of forensic accounting and business valuation, which include publications, volunteering for the past several years as a judge in the Rotman Case Competition, assisting with a course at the University of Toronto’s Diploma in Investigative Forensic Accounting, serving as a mentor to both junior and senior staff at Fuller Landau, and serving as a member of the Publication Committee for the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuations.
We sat down with Patricia for a brief Q&A to learn more about her interesting career path and personal brand:
Q: Let’s start with the basics: As a Chartered Business Valuation expert, what services do you personally provide for clients?
Most of my work is in the context of litigation involving valuations, damage quantification, and forensic accounting investigations. In addition, I prepare purchase price allocations for financial reporting purposes for a wide variety of industries. Some of my recent work has included share valuations related to shareholders disputes, buy-outs, oppression remedies, and matrimonial disputes. I have also conducted accounting investigations including reviews related to alleged misappropriation of funds, and contractual disputes which require quantification of damages (such as ‘breach of contract’ in construction litigation, or a loss of profit in a business dispute between shareholders).
Q: Are there any special skills that have contributed to your success in the courtroom?
I pride myself on taking complex financial matters and simplifying them into objective, easy-to-understand, expert reports. When it comes to matters of dispute, there is no substitution for clarity and accuracy.
Q: What was your career trajectory like? Did you always know you that you wanted to practice as a forensic accountant and business valuator?
I always knew I wanted to be an accountant but didn’t know exactly where the profession would take me.
I started as a co-op student with a large public accounting firm while in university, which became a full-time position after graduation. After five years with the organization, I took some time off to have my two children.
I rejoined the workforce at a large national charity as the accounting manager. Eventually I transitioned to a large, public technology company, and after a few years I moved on to a family-owned private wealth firm.
That is where I was first exposed to business valuation. I loved the work immediately. My pursuit of the Chartered Business Valuation designation eventually led me to establish my own valuation firm.
Q: That’s quite a journey. So, what led you to Fuller Landau?
While I enjoyed the autonomy and flexibility of running my own practice, I missed the camaraderie and continuous learning that goes hand-in-hand within a partnership setting. I joined Fuller Landau in 2009, and it has been a perfect fit. The firm values collaboration between the various service lines, and the partners support each other.
I have had exposure to almost every industry through various consulting engagements over the years, and Fuller Landau provides me with the opportunity to leverage the full range of my experience. I enjoy the variety and the challenge of each new assignment.
Q: Speaking of continuous learning, do you have any advice for juniors starting in the industry?
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn. Don’t be afraid to explore new areas, and always keep your options open. When considering your professional development, identify an area that truly interests you, and establish yourself as a true expert, over time.
I have found that a great way to learn about something is to research it and write about it. Writing forces you to do thorough research, to organize your thoughts clearly and concisely, and to consider the subject matter from a variety of perspectives. In addition, reviewing other expert reports enhances both the writing and learning.
I would also emphasize the value of building your ‘personal brand’. In the age of digital communication and social media, being able to stand out in a positive way is essential.
Q: As an example for those who are not familiar with the term, how have you built your own ‘personal brand’?
I strive to position myself as a valuable resource to my fellow partners, to potential referral sources, and especially to my clients.
I am also known as a promoter of continuous improvement, with an open door, who encourages people to do their best.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or pastimes that occupy your time outside of work?
I love keeping current with my industry. It’s not unusual to find me reading case law on the weekends.
Outside of the office, I enjoy staying active—cycling outdoors, kayaking, and exercising. I’ve travelled extensively with my husband and two sons who are students at Queen’s University. Lately, we have been focusing our travels more on exploring Canada. We recently returned from a trip to beautiful Fogo Island, in Newfoundland. It’s easy for Canadians to forget the many remarkable travel opportunities we have in our own backyard.
My love of continuous improvement spills into my home life. I have been taking a culinary course at George Brown College to support my love of cooking and have also taken classes in art and sculpture.
Patricia is a partner in Fuller Landau’s Business Valuations practice, an active member of our Real Estate & Construction group, and a highly respected mentor to many of our promising juniors.