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60-Seconds with FRA Director Meredith Fitzpatrick

September 28, 2023

As part of a series of 60 seconds interviews in ThoughtLeaders4 FIRE magazine issue 14, FRA Director for Cryptocurrency Investigations and Compliance Meredith Fitzpatrick reflects on her role within the industry including what motivates her most about her work and the most significant trend in practice today. The interview can be found below.

  1. Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend your weekdays?

    Exploring every playground in the area with my two sons! I also love running and my favorite way to explore a new city is by going on a long run. I’d travel and go on a long run in every city on my bucket list (probably followed by an equal amount of time checking out the local ice cream shops).
  2. What do you see as the most important thing about your job?

    Clear communication. The crypto industry is sometimes filled with FUD and hype, which can drown out investigative facts and the potential of the technology. Whether it’s a matter involving something technically sophisticated like Decentralized Finance (DeFi) or something more familiar such as bitcoin, if I am an effective communicator of the situation at hand I allow our clients to move forward from a position of strength.
  3. What motivates you most about your work?

    Helping our clients harness the power of blockchain analytics to solve their investigative and compliance issues. With the open ledger of the blockchain, there’s a powerful amount of information an investigator can learn about the source and destination of funds, and even more so when combined with open-source intelligence and unstructured data sets.
  4. What is one work related goal you would like to achieve in the next five years?

    Conduct a major investigation in every continent. From my experiences as an FBI Special Agent and at FRA, the approach to crypto varies across the globe, often rooted in cultural differences and varying sensitivities to organized crime and corruption. This is often an overlooked but crucial perspective to have when conducting any crypto investigation. I hope to one day have supported our clients across each continent, and as a result experienced all the nuances associated with conducting an investigation in-country.
  5. What has been the best piece of advice you have been given in your career?

    Fail in order to succeed. I am a perfectionist and early on in my career I struggled with not putting pen to paper until I thought something was perfectly organized in my head. An old Mathematics professor from College, Dr. Edward Burger, wrote a wonderful book with Michael Starbird called The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking. In the section on failure, they talk about treating every failed attempt or rough draft as forward progress towards becoming less wrong. I’ve come back to this book many times throughout my career - highly recommend!
  6. What is the most significant trend in your practice today?

    Concerns over compliance in an uncertain regulatory environment. There’s two different ways I’m seeing this come up with our clients. Crypto has been adopted all over the globe but there’s a wide range of regulatory requirements across jurisdictions, especially in the US and Europe. Many companies are trying to do the right thing but struggling with how. There’s also a heightened sensitivity to sanctions exposure as the prolificity of Russian and North Korean cybercrime continues.
  7. Who has been your biggest role model in the industry?

    Laura Shin. I dove into her podcast, Unchained, when I first started investigating crypto matters in 2017. She does a phenomenal job of making the cryptocurrency space accessible and asks tough but fair questions to cut through sensationalism. I can’t count how many times I’ve recommended her work to people dipping their toes into the space.
  8. What is one important skill that you think everyone should have?

    How to evaluate sources of information. In the context of investigations, it’s critical to consider veracity of the facts you’re basing an opinion or assumption on, and how biases may affect someone’s opinion, especially your own. The film “12 Angry Men” should be mandatory viewing for anyone working in the investigations space.
  9. What cause are you passionate about?

    Mentoring and paying it forward to the next generation. Throughout my time as a Software Engineer, FBI Special Agent, and now as a Director at FRA, I have been extremely fortunate to have mentors who pass on their lessons learned to me and act as a sounding board whenever I encounter a challenge my career. I think everyone has a duty to help foster the next generation of practitioners. No one gets anywhere without support.
  10. Where has been your favourite holiday destination and why?

    Salzburg, Austria. I went there on my honeymoon – it’s an amazing combination of natural splendor and history. One day we started out with a bike ride with a view of the mountains, then walked around a fortress that dated back to the 1100s, went to a brewery in a monastery, and ended at a restaurant that’s rumored to be the oldest operating restaurant in the world. Perfect day if you ask me.
  11. Dead or alive, which famous person would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

    Alan Turing. I think it would be fascinating to hear what it was like working on an incredibly secretive and complex project during the height of WW2 when the stakes could not have been higher. He changed the world and fought through so much adversity while doing it.

Read the ThoughtLeaders4 FIRE magazine here.

Find out more about FRA’s Cryptocurrency practice here.

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