Category: Knight after Knight

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter seventeen, part two.

Over a three-year period, Knight Overbock Partnership enjoyed reasonable success.

Although we were only called on by Knight Global for two more jobs, both of them tested and stretched Susie to her limits and resulted in promotions and salary increases for her. One of these jobs coincided with Hannah’s university holidays and she, too, gained a deal of experience and growth in her knowledge and capability. Apart from those two jobs, we carried out follow-on audits on a number of projects that Max and I had started, and were called on to perform management development consultations for a number of new clients.

By the end of that period, Henk and I were beginning to feel that it was time to slow down. Susie had, on occasion, expressed a desire to return to head office where there was an opening for her in a junior management role and Hannah was becoming, as Jess had predicted, disenchanted with the business and itching to get started on a real career.

“Whilst we’re all together,” I said at what turned out to be our last weekly meeting, “I, that is we, Henk and I want to thank you both, Susie and Hannah, for all your work. As well as keeping two old men in check—”

“Not always easy,” Susie said, “but at least we never had to fend off unwanted advances. We appreciate that.”

“Thank you, Susie. I can’t deny that there’s a lot to enjoy about having two attractive young women with us whilst we’re working, and we feel a great affection and protectiveness towards you both. However, we appreciate and respect more your professionalism and your capabilities. The time has come, I regret to say, for Henk and me to admit that we’re not getting any younger and it’s probably time for us both to retire. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you; you’ve both been hinting for some months that you want a change of direction. We can’t offer you that. What we can do is to release you, Susie, from your secondment. I’ve spoken with David, and he assures me that there’s a role for you in head office as manager of the internal audit department he’s setting up. Your developing forensic accounting skills will be put to good use.”

“Can I just ask, Hannice, will I still be able to keep Ms Matham’s stuff?”

“Of course, Susie.”

“What are your plans, Hannah?” I asked, “I know you told me recently, but my memory’s letting me down more often these days. That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to retire – before I forget that I want to!” That gave everyone a laugh.

“I said I wanted to go into Dad’s business and work my way as far up the hierarchy as my abilities will take me. Well, I start next week on Susie’s internal audit team!”

“And are you happy with that?”

“I should say! I love working with Susie and I enjoy the work.”

“I thought you were getting bored with it,” Henk observed.

“Not the work as such, Henk. I was getting bored with the long gaps between jobs.”

“What about you, Susie? Are you happy to have Hannah in your section?”

“Mostly, yes—”

“Only mostly?” Hannah asked.

“Well, you’re too much competition for me, aren’t you?”

“How? You know so much more then I do.”

“I wasn’t talking about work.”

“Okay,” I said, “so you’re okay working together. The rest will sort itself out, and I don’t imagine either of you will have trouble in the other department.”

“So what now?” Henk asked, “What do we do about our client list?”

“Here’s the exciting part,” I said, “David has offered to have Knight Global absorb KOP as a going concern, so our clients will become his clients. The paperwork is ready for our signatures whenever we can go in to sign it.”

“But if Knights are acquiring KOP, who will run it?” Susie asked.

“You will. The new internal audit department I told you about is basically KOP reinvented. You will manage it with Hannah as your deputy.”

“So just the two of us, then?”

“I think it’ll be too big for the two of you, but that’s for you to negotiate with Finance. Your first job will be to establish an outline business plan along with the main accounting managers and from there, set out what people you think you’ll need.”

“That’s a big ask, isn’t it?”

“If you’re telling me that you don’t think Hannah and you, between you, can do that, perhaps I should ask David to rethink his ideas.”

“It was his idea?”

“Whose did you think it was?”

“We’d assumed it was yours.”

“Seventy per cent David’s, twenty per cent Jess’s and ten per cent mine.”

“In that case…”

“Glad to hear it, kids. You can call on me if you need any help, but my money says you won’t.”

We closed the meeting and, as if you hadn’t guessed, enjoyed a glass of sherry each. At our suggestion, the two girls left for head office straight away, leaving Henk and me alone in Knight Towers.

“End of an era, Hannice,” Henk said.

“Indeed.”

“What are you going to do with yourself?”

“Rest. These last few months have been something of a struggle. I’ll have myself checked over at the clinic and see what level of activity they recommend. You?”

“Back to Amsterdam. I want to be around my people for whatever time I have left.”

“You’ll be around for years, yet, Henk. Promise me one thing, though. Promise me you’ll say something nice about me at my funeral.”

“What makes you think you’ll go first?”

“Just a feeling I get. I’ve been thinking about Sophie a lot these past few weeks; more than I had before. You can’t have missed how Hannah seems to be looking more like her grandmother every day. I’ve lost count of how many times recently I’ve had to stop myself calling her Sophie instead of her real name. It’s all becoming too hard. I don’t hold with any of that life after death stuff, you know that, but wouldn’t it be great if it were true, and I could look forward to seeing my Sophie again.”

“Now you’re getting maudlin, my friend. Stop it. You’ve got years ahead of you yet.”

“Yes, I had, old friend. And ”

And that was the end of KOP and probably, although I didn’t accept it at the time, the end of my working life.

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.1

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter seventeen, part one.

“Did she behave?” David asked when we’d returned from India.

“Impeccably,” I said, “Not only that, but Susie who, by the way, is a heck of a forensic accountant, said that she enjoyed working with Hannah and she’d be happy to work with her again.”

“I’m not surprised. They’re close in age and Hannah’s a nice person to be with.”

“That’s not the reason. Oh, it’s true, they got on extremely well together, but mostly, Susie was impressed by Hannah’s understanding of the principles and her work ethic. They even worked into the night together to produce the presentation for the clients.”

“But Susie found the problem in the end.”

“Not alone. Susie did the deep digging, but it was Hannah who spotted the anomaly. I’d have to say that Susie, before long, will reach the standard Max was at when she started her practice. She’s going to be an asset to the firm. Look after her.”

“But, if she were your responsibility, what would you do with Hannah?”

“I can’t give an impartial opinion, I’m too close. However, based on what I saw and based on what Susie said, I’d not discourage her if she said she wanted to follow through in forensic accountancy. She does seem to have a natural aptitude and she said she enjoyed the work.”

“Thanks, Dad. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Meanwhile, in case anyone says anything, here’s what happened after we did our job…”

I went on to tell him the detail of the interview in the Nairs’ office, culminating in the dismissal of the culprit, and their thank-you to us.

“So you weren’t working all the time you were there?”

“No. Is that a problem?”

“Not for you or Henk, or even for Hannah. But Susie is on contract and with a rigid leave structure—”

“And during our tour of the Golden Triangle, she spent a lot of time giving instruction and advice to your daughter. That took a lot of worry and responsibility from Henk and me. It may not have been exactly what she was employed to do but be assured, she was working.”

“You do know she has to submit time-sheets to cover the period. What will she put for those dates?”

“She’s already done it. Assistance and duties while in India as instructed by Mr Knight and Mr Overbock. It has the benefit of being true and complete.”

“That’s not going to wash with HR. If she’s lucky, she’ll lose holiday entitlement.”

“And if she’s not lucky?”

“That depends on her line manager.”

“Okay. Put her on permanent secondment to KOP. We could use a permanent, competent accountant, and to have a forensic accountant on tap will be great for us. We can also use her as Hannah’s mentor for her university studies and cover all her work experience.”

“If that’s what she wants.”

“Of course. Anyway, back to Susie. You pay her salary, we’ll look after her working conditions. That way she won’t need to submit timesheets and everybody should be happy.”

“I’ll need to ask Finance and HR.”

“No you won’t, David. You’ll need to tell them.”

“Fair enough. I’ll tell HR and they’ll tell Finance. Susie’s bosses won’t be happy. It’ll leave them without a forensic accountant.”

“They’ll have to sponsor another accountant through the training – they have plenty to choose from.”

“We’ll talk to Hannah at dinner, and put it to Susie tomorrow.”

I wasn’t surprised to see that Hannah jumped at the chance. She and Susie really hit it off in India and I fully expected that the prospect of the two of them working together more would please my granddaughter; not only for the relationship they’d formed, but also to further Hanna’s chosen career. Susie was less enthusiastic at first. She had a number of friends at Knight Global’s head office and was loathe to part from them. However, at one level, the chance to move from being an accountant in a large organisation to being the accountant in a small outfit presented her with what she called an exciting challenge. She was marginally hesitant at the prospect of becoming Hannah’s mentor; not because she didn’t want to do the job, but because she didn’t believe she was adequate to the task. However, when I told her that I would hand over to her all of Max’s books, files and notes, her attitude changed.

“You’ll really give me access to the files and notes of the legendary Max Matham?” she asked.

“No, Susie. I won’t give you access to them, I’ll gift them to you, and all of her books.”

“Can you do that?”

“I can. In fact, I have to. She left them all to me in her will with the stipulation that I hand them to a young forensic accountant that I judged could make good use of them.”

“When you say files and notes—”

“I mean full details of every case, every investigation she ever worked on. And that will give you unique access to all her thought processes. The only thing I’d ask is that you respect the absolute confidentiality of all these records.”

“Of course.”

“That includes not telling Henk or me; or Hannah; about any of the cases or any of her notes beyond what we need to know to do our jobs. There are bound to be some things about me in there; some I’d rather no-one else saw and some I’d probably rather not know myself. I’ll rely on your discretion to decide what is appropriate to pass on to us.”

“I can agree to that, Mr Knight.”

“Does that mean you’ll take the job?”

“If my managers are okay with it, yes.”

“Don’t worry, they will be, we’ll make sure of that. Just think about it, though, Susie. This job will be as close as you can get to private practice without actually being it, but with none of the financial risks.”

“And with none of the promotion prospects, either…”

“We’ll work something out, Susie. Whichever way this goes, your career prospects will not be negatively impacted.”

Subsequent discussions with David and, through him, with the relevant departmental directors produced a structure that ensured that Susie’s progression would continue as normal, the biannual assessments that form part of the staff development programme being completed by Henk and me instead of her line managers. She remained contracted to Knight Global Trading as a developing member of head office accounting staff but on indefinite secondment to Knight Overbock Partnership.

The other major success we achieved was having an open-ended casual internship agreement signed between Knight Global and Hannah. The arrangement was looser than we would have liked, but it did mean that Hannah could work with us, according to our needs, whenever she was not at university, whilst enjoying all the protections and benefits available to her as an employee of the group.

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 16.4

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter sixteen, part four.

After briefing Henk at breakfast the following morning, all four of us joined Sashi in his office. When we told him we had evidence of wrongdoing in his organisation, he called Gopi and had him join us.

Unknown to me, subsequent to discovering the issue, Susie and Hannah had spent a couple of hours preparing a detailed and well-argued presentation. As soon as we were all seated around Sashi’s mini-conference table, Susie said, “May I?”, connected her laptop to the small projector and fired up the presentation I didn’t even know existed. We all watched in silence as she flipped the slides and documents, and she and Hannah explained what we were seeing. Once the presentation was over, Sashi pressed the intercom button on his desk and told his assistant to instruct the IT chief to report to his office immediately and to have the security team standing by.

Badreep Singh Bootha entered the room and was instructed to take a seat. Susie and Hannah repeated their presentation whilst Badreep sat in shocked silence.

“You can explain thins?” Sashi Nair asked.

“Of course, Mr Sashi. I made a profit for the company. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”

“You, Mr Bootha, are charged with maintaining and supporting this company’s IT infrastructure. You have no authority to conduct financial transactions beyond those necessary to fulfil your role. You are certainly not authorised to undertake blatant money-laundering on company time and using our equipment, leaving this organisation liable to large fines and sanctions.”

“You don’t understand. It’s not like that. And who are these people, anyway?”

“Forgive me, Badreep, I didn’t introduce you. This young woman is Susie Weston, a forensic accountant from Knight Global head office; this gentleman,” he extended a hand towards Henk, “is Henk Overbock, previously Chief Operating Officer of Knight Global, now an independent consultant, as is the other gentleman, Mr Hannice Knight—”

“The Hannice Knight?”

“The very same. Previously its Chairman and CEO, Mr Knight is now also an independent consultant for Knight Global. The other young lady is Mr Knight’s granddaughter, Hannah. Her father is—”

“I know. Mr David Knight, Chairman and CEO.”

“Correct. Now tell us, please, if it’s not like that, what is it like? And bear in mind that we are recording this interview.”

“I had no choice. I had to do it. They threatened my family.”

“But you’re not married. You are an only child and your parents are both at rest. Or were you lying about that?”

“No, that’s all true.”

Henk and I had been quietly listening so far, but Henk clearly felt he needed to get involved.

“Let me see if I have this straight. You are an only child and your parents are both at rest. That means you have no children, no siblings and no parents. Who, then, is being threatened and by whom?”

“With respect, Mr Overbock, you don’t understand our culture. Our family doesn’t stop at one degree. I have a cousin who is highly placed with the local government. She is in line for a big promotion, but her boss said that she wouldn’t get that promotion unless she persuaded me to help him clean up some money that had come his way.”

“And that was enough to cause you to break the law?”

“It wasn’t just the promotion.”

“What else?” Sash asked.

“He said that if she didn’t do as he asked, he’d sack her and make sure no-one else would give her a job. Her husband died last year without any insurance or compensation, and she’s bringing up three kids on her own. Without that job or another job, she and her kids would starve. I had to help her.”

“Well, Badreep Singh Bootha,” Sashi Nair said, “your cousin still has a job, which is a good thing, by all accounts. Such a pity you don’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean clear your desk and get out.”

“You can’t sack me.”

“Can’t I? Silly me, I thought I just had. Help me here – why can’t I sack you?”

“Because without me, this company won’t survive. I am the only one who knows how to keep all this stuff working. It’ll collapse within a week.”

“Let me put the position to you, Mr Bootha. Either you clear your desk and leave now – and don’t worry, I’ll have security with you to make sure you don’t try to do anything that could put the business in jeopardy – or I hand you and this evidence to the police. Your choice.”

“But—”

“Decide now.”

“You’ll have to pay me redundancy, you know.”

“Sorry. You’re dismissed with cause. No redundancy, no holiday pay, no nothing.”

Sashi called the two security men in and instructed them to accompany the ex-IT chief to his office, where he was to collect only his personal possessions and then leave the building. He told them to collect his keys and to make sure he didn’t take or even touch any IT equipment.

“Before you take him,” he said then, turning to Badreep, “empty your pockets onto my desk, please.”

“You can’t—”

“Do it!”

He emptied his pockets. Gopi moved two memory sticks and a notepad away from the rest of Badreep’s possessions.

“Pick the rest up and go with these men.”

Once they’d left the office, the two Mr Nairs thanked us profusely. When we told them there was no charge for our services, and that our expenses had been covered by head office, they generously offered to extend our stay in the area and cover the cost of a guided tour of the Golden Triangle. We all accepted with gratitude. All, that is, except Susie Weston.

“I should get back to work,” she said, “I don’t have enough holiday for these extra days.”

“They don’t need to know you’re not working,” I said, “you’re seconded to Henk and me.”

“But I’d still know.”

“I commend you on your honesty, Susie, I really do. However, Hannah won’t enjoy the trip as much if you aren’t with us, so I’d prefer you to come along.”

“Okay, Mr Knight. Will I be able to draw forward some holiday from next year’s allowance?”

“You won’t need to do that. I’ll call my son and have him square it with your boss. As far as the firm is concerned, you’re coming with us to continue helping Hannah with her business studies.”

“But I won’t be,” she objected.

“Oh yes you will,” Hannah said, “You don’t get off that easily.”

“Mr Nair, Mr Nair,” I said, addressing them both, “we accept your very kind offer. Thank you.”

“No, thank you,” Sashi said, “We owe you much more than that. I’ll have my assistant set up the tours and the guide will contact you at your hotel.”

And that’s exactly what happened. And we all had a good time.