Last year was a tough one for private investors no doubt about it. Like many investors I was feeling pretty pleased with myself in September and entertained thoughts of perhaps making 20% by Christmas. In retrospect I was clearly being complacent and perhaps a bit lazy with my investment decisions. Then came the big winter freeze, which seemed to hit smaller shares particularly hard, and an unpleasant end to 2018.

However immediately before that, on 10th October, Patisserie Holdings (LON:CAKE) put out a surprise announcement that their shares were to be temporarily suspended. Good joke considering that they're about to fall into administration. Anyway with this wiping out a few percent of my portfolio my interest in detecting fraud was immediately rekindled. I have a few books on the subject but my wanderings took me to this excellent report from Hardman & Co where they discuss the coming explosion in accounting fraud. Wish I'd seen this in August!

Anyway when I realised that the author, Steve Clapham, would be running a forensic accounting course for private investors I got in touch with his office. Seemed like a great opportunity to learn and pretty cheap if it helped me avoid another Patisserie Holdings (LON:CAKE). Yet even with the very thorough course brochure in front of me I found myself somewhat distracted by the markets (oddly enough) and didn't follow up. Fortunately lightning struck twice when I found out that Steve would be presenting at Mello London. What a chance to meet him in person. 

Now let me say this: when the panel were discussing Patisserie Holdings (LON:CAKE), and whether there were any warning signs, Steve was right there with graphs which (at the very least) raised a number of red-flags. The video of this discussion is available on vimeo and it's certainly worth £3.99 of anyone's money. Later on Steve gave his own presentation on forensic accounting and this was equally fascinating (if a little superficial given the time constraints). All of this only served to whet my appetite for a full-day course.

As it turns out Steve runs three different courses and all of them look very interesting. It's worth going to…

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