Forensic Accountant

Irina Anissimova, CPA, CFF

Random Thoughts

Technological change

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 7:10 PM

I am working on separate property tracing, which presents an opportunity for bitching about unexpected negative impacts of technological changes on people's endeavours. Here is how it applies to tracing:

 

Separate property tracing employs "follow the money" strategy and its success depends on the availability of documents that show the cash flow. No documents, no tracing, no proof there was and still remains any separate property. Most people do not keep statements from their bank accounts for more than couple years - they see no need and have no space to do so.

Then what do my clients do when I ask them to find statements from half a dozen of their bank accounts (including closed ones) from 1994 through 2015? Predictably, they go to financial institutions and ask for those old statements.

 

Back in the day when banks kept records on paper it was possible to dig out 20 year old statements, because following the retention rules and disposing of everything older than 7 or 10 years required manual labor and adding more storage space was cheaper.

 

Financial institutions no longer keep documents on paper - everything is automated and digital. This is convenient, but this convenience comes at a price few people contemplate - there is always a possibility of a data breach and associated massive costs to the institution. The incentive with respect to old documents has been turned upside down - now it is safer and easier to destroy them as soon as the retention period expires.

 

This is not a good news for my tracing clients and I am starting to see some very troubling outcomes.

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