Culturally Conscious Due Diligence


The centrality of cultural consciousness within due diligence investigation lies in the reality that hard skills such as research must be paired with effective soft skills such as cultural awareness to ensure a best-in-class investigation. 

For example, when initiating a project in North Africa, one must be aware of holidays such as Ramadan which can severely impact the ability to obtain records from government offices or schedule discreet source inquiries. Likewise Christmas and Holy Week business closures in Latin America are significantly lengthier and more widely observed than in the United States. Relatedly, regional events such as Carnaval in Brazil have major local scheduling impacts despite not being well known abroad. Additionally, consideration of time zone differences in tandem with knowledge of the local work week is imperative. For instance, when scheduling a call with a source in Israel, Friday evenings should be avoided, however, Sunday will suffice if quick turn around is required.

When communicating across borders, cultural awareness is imperative. This ranges from knowledge of local honorary titles such as the use of Shri in place of Mr. in various Southeast Asian countries to never addressing elders by their first names in places such as Pakistan. In addition to consideration of honorifics, an understanding of local naming conventions is important. Examples include the use of bin (son of) and bint (daughter of) in Arabic or the family name preceding the individual name in China. Failure to consider the aforementioned linguistic characteristics can result in the misidentification of subjects among other identification errors.

Finally, an understanding of local customs is vital, whether conducting an investigation in person or from afar by telephone or video conferencing. Aside from cultivating a respectful environment, displaying an understanding of local cultural norms enhances the comfort level of a conversational partner and can prove crucial to obtaining information.Considerations include:

  • Prior to initiating an interaction, confirm greeting conventions. 
  • Is a handshake with a member of another sex accepted or is direct eye contact expected or considered a sign of disrespect? 
  • Demonstrate an awareness of local modesty norms when selecting an outfit to be worn for an in-person or video interaction. 

If you have a need for an international due diligence investigation, take advantage of Vcheck Global’s research team which leverages extensive in-house foreign language capabilities, overseas experience, and regional academic focus. The team’s ability to seamlessly integrate hard and soft skills ensures your investigation extends beyond traditional diligence sources through the inclusion of extensive area knowledge. 

Leading providers of international due diligence investigations such as Vcheck Global benefit from having talented and diverse research teams. When onboarding an early career analyst, an expansive investigative skill set must be imparted, maintained, and continually refreshed to keep pace with the ever changing nature of the diligence industry. While skills such as database research and open source analysis can be learned, one critical professional component, cultural consciousness, is acquired through a combination of experience, empathy and curiosity. 

Seth Harlan is Senior Associate, Market & Regulatory Affairs at Vcheck Intelligence. 

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