Workplace MVP LIVE from SHRM 2022: Mario Pecoraro, Alliance Risk Group
On this episode of Workplace MVP, live from SHRM 2022 in New Orleans, host Jamie Gassmann was joined by Mario Pecoraro, CEO of Alliance Risk Group. Mario described his passion for investigation that led him to start Alliance Risk Group in 2005. He and Jamie discussed the types of investigations his firm conducts, various kinds of fraud they see, implications for companies, and much more.
This show was originally broadcast live from the 2022 SHRM Annual Conference held at the New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Alliance Risk Group
Alliance Risk Group, Inc. (started out as Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, a company founded in 2005 by CEO Mario Pecoraro. In 2020, the company united its services under one name – Alliance Risk Group, Inc., one logo, and one mission – to reduce risk and inspire confidence! Alliance Risk Group inspires confidence by providing risk mitigation solutions globally.
The services include due-diligence-based background investigations customizable to a variety of industries including banking/finance, technology, energy, gaming/hospitality, transportation, staffing, healthcare, and more. Alliance also performs surveillance and complete SIU investigations for insurance and corporate professionals.
In addition, their litigation support team (formerly known as Avvocato Litigation Support International) offers complete legal support including service of process on a local, state, national and international level. They serve law firms of all sizes, in-house legal departments of major corporations and government agencies that need service of process anywhere.
Their claims adjusting team, (formerly known as Preferred Adjustment Company) provides full-service claims handling and property/casualty adjusting services for insurance carriers, self-insured companies, and attorneys. Alliance Risk Group’s experienced crew of adjusters are strategically located throughout New York and surrounding states. They are available to service claims on a regional and multi-state level.
Mario Pecoraro, CEO, Alliance Risk Group
Mario Pecoraro is an entrepreneur, corporate visionary, author, and founder of Alliance Risk Group Inc. The company specializes in background screening and insurance fraud investigations. Our legal support team provides service of process on a local, state, national and international level. In addition, Alliance Risk Group provides full-service claims handling and property/casualty adjusting services for insurance carriers, self-insured companies and attorneys. A member of the Professional Background Screening Association, (PBSA) Alliance employees hold FCRA Advanced Certification. With more than 25 years of proven experience in due-diligence-based investigative services, Mario Pecoraro has spearheaded the growth of the company in a short period of time to become a leader in the insurance and background investigation fields, property/casualty adjusting and process service industries.
Prior to founding the company in 2005 (previously known as Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group) Mario worked for fifteen years as a private investigator in his parent’s family-owned firm and conducted in excess of 2,500 hours of field investigative work, skip-tracing, asset investigations and locating missing persons, heirs and witnesses. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Italian from the State University of New York at Albany.
Mario serves on the Executive Boards of many industry organizations and community not-for-profit organizations. He recently published a book, available on Amazon.com, that targets large employers, self-insured employers, insurance carriers, third-party administrators and workers’ comp professionals. “The Claim Game: Twenty Best Practices When Managing and Investigating Workers’ Comp Claims” provides readers with Best Practices on how best to reduce overall risk related to fraudulent workers’ compensation claims.
His second book, “Avoiding Costly Hiring Mistakes,” was published in the summer of 2019. It provides all the tips, best practices, and warning signs HR Professionals should look for when making hiring decisions.
Pecoraro conducts accredited webinars and has presented at conferences across the country. He is sought out as an expert on investigative matters and has been featured on local and national media outlets. The company was recently featured on ABC’s investigative news show 20/20 and described as the “gold standard” for those who want to screen out the fakes.” To view the segment, click here. He also interviewed by Brian Sullivan on Fox News Your World with Neil Cavuto discussing why some companies hire investigators when employees play hooky.
He was honored by his peers as an “outstanding business person” for conducting risk management and quality due-diligence based investigative services with integrity and his company was named a “2016 Best Places to Work” by the Albany Business Review.
About Workplace MVP
Every day, around the world, organizations of all sizes face disruptive events and situations. Within those workplaces are everyday heroes in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite. They don’t call themselves heroes though. On the contrary, they simply show up every day, laboring for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption. This show, Workplace MVP, confers on these heroes the designation they deserve, Workplace MVP (Most Valuable Professionals), and gives them the forum to tell their story. As you hear their experiences, you will learn first-hand, real-life approaches to readying the workplace, responses to crisis situations, and overcoming challenges of disruption. Visit our show archive here.
Workplace MVP Host Jamie Gassmann
In addition to serving as the host to the Workplace MVP podcast, Jamie Gassmann is the Director of Marketing at R3 Continuum (R3c). Collectively, she has more than fourteen years of marketing experience. Across her tenure, she has experience working in and with various industries including banking, real estate, retail, crisis management, insurance, business continuity, and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with special interest in Advertising and Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Paseka School of Business, Minnesota State University.
R3 Continuum is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from SHRM 2022 at the New Orleans Convention Center, it’s time for Workplace MVP. Brought to you by R3 Continuum, a global leader in helping workplaces thrive during disruptive times. Now, here’s your host.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:20] Hey, everyone. Your host here, Jaime Gassmann, at the R3 Continuum Booth, our show sponsor. And we are coming to you from SHRM 2022 Exhibit Hall. And with me is Mario Pecoraro from Alliance Risk Group. Welcome to the show, Mario.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:00:38] Good morning, Jamie. Thank you for having me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:40] So, let’s start, tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the CEO of Alliance Risk Group and all of your expertise in what you do.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:00:48] Oh, great. So thank you once again for having me. I come to the industry with a pretty unique background and that I grew up in a family-owned business, worked with my dad, who was an old-school gumshoe, old-school private investigator. And, I learned at a pretty young age that I really had a strong passion for catching the bad guys, right, and doing the investigating needed to get the truth out there.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:01:15] So, I developed a strong passion probably at the age of 13, 14, was doing ride alongs with my dad, got to learn the ropes of what an investigator does, what surveillance is, how to screen people for organizations before background screening was a thing. And so, I took that strong passion and decided in 2005 that I wanted to launch my own firm, Alliance Risk Group, which was more focused on a scalable model of helping businesses reduce risk. So, Alliance Risk Group was born back in 2005.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:46] Yeah. And looking at risk and doing background checks, you have like, you know, I’m sure you’ve got some crazy interesting stories that H.R. leaders should be taking notice of. Do you have anything off the top of your mind that like is most interesting where you kind of use that as your way to warn why this is so important to look into?
Mario Pecoraro: [00:02:04] Yeah. So there are so many different aspects of background screening that are applicable. So, when it comes to the process itself, there’s a lot of regulations and rules that must be followed. And so, early on in the process, most of the companies doing this try to be as compliant as they could, but they struggle with how do you keep bad people out and reduce your risk. So through the years, a lot of laws have changed and a lot of compliance has taken place. But with that, the bad people have never really stopped, right? So, people are still trying to get into organizations. So, we’ve seen everything from people who falsified credentials, falsified resumes.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:02:41] We were privileged to be on ABC’s 2020 about six, seven years ago and they did a whole story on the extent to which an applicant will go to falsify their background. And the story was all about this guy that we ended up catching that was running a diploma mill out of Ohio. And by day, he was a factory worker. By night, he ran a diploma mill. So, if you wanted to graduate from DeVry University, you let him know. You tell him the year of graduation, he create a nice diploma. And basically, he did this for several people who were struggling. So, we were able to catch this on several people.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:16] Wow! That’s why I love doing this show. You always learn something new. I would have never thought that somebody would actually do that. That’s interesting.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:03:22] Yeah, for sure. So, people go to all extents to try to get a job. And so, besides references and diplomas, you also get into credentials, right? So, let’s just say they were at one point they needed to have a credential of, say, a manager or director level in the past job, a lot of employers may not verify a past employment, so they’re going to go out and say that they were a director at – we’ll use the example of IMED, a booth across the street. Well, who’s really going to verify that the person was a director at IMED and, you know, let’s just say that they didn’t even work there. If that’s not verified, that becomes an integrity issue. So, a lot of employees try to falsify things in order to justify the position they’re trying to get.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:02] Yeah. And looking at that, so they falsify the record of their resume or their background, what kind of risk does that put the company at in hiring somebody that’s done that?
Mario Pecoraro: [00:04:14] Great question. Yeah. So a lot of companies right now, so the risk that that puts them into is a number of risks. So, first of all, from a negligent hiring perspective, if they bring somebody into the workplace that should not have been brought in, whether it’s because of a violent background or false resume, they face potential of a really significant civil liability, not to mention the brand reputation that goes into that. Right? So, if they make a bad hire and now something bad happens and that hits the press, that has a huge impact on the company’s brand overall and its ability to stay in a positive light in the community.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:50] So, it could have a significant effect, not to mention the fact that if someone has a violent history and they’re able to get into an organization, we’ve all seen way too often the number of cases where there’s workplace violence, incidents that happened literally every day, where people go back to a job and they commit a violent act, not realizing that maybe a little bit of due diligence could have prevented that person from being brought on.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:12] Yeah. And now you are speaking at SHRM this year.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:05:15] I am.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:05:15] So, talk to me about what are you speaking on?
Mario Pecoraro: [00:05:18] So, having been in the industry my entire professional career, I’m very passionate about ensuring that best practices are followed and open in H.R. and talent acquisition leaders’ eyes as to not to take shortcuts in order to bring talent into the organization.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:05:36] So, today’s topic is actually one around the Fair Credit Reporting Act, often termed as FCRA, and some lawsuits that have happened in our industry where failure to follow due process, the proper best practices have resulted in millions of dollars in lawsuits and payouts as well as EEOC violations where there’s been discrimination. There’s also a big issue here with discrimination against people with criminal records that haven’t been given the opportunity for proper due process.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:05] Yeah. So if there were like three takeaways you want your audience to have when they walk out of the room after your presentation, what would those be?
Mario Pecoraro: [00:06:12] So, the first takeaway is, you know,there’s no shortcut to due process and due diligence. A lot of times, you know, with technology, people think, “Oh, with A.I. we can get into the background checks and get results quickly.” That’s partially true. But if you don’t do a thorough enough job, you could open the risk of potentially getting sued.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:06:33] The second piece takeaway that I’d like to ensure people walk away with is just reviewing their process, right? If the process has not been reviewed in a while, just make sure that they’re following the latest best practices to reduce risk. And the third is that it’s very easy to get sued today. So, be aware of what can happen to keep yourself out of that potential lawsuit.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:53] Yeah. Great advice for right now especially with some employers getting a little desperate for staffing.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:06:59] Very, very challenging these days for sure.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:01] Yeah. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for for being on our show. If somebody wanted to get a hold of you to learn a little bit more or kind of, you know, ask some more questions about things they could be doing differently in their organization, how would they go about doing that?
Mario Pecoraro: [00:07:12] So, they could reach me. I’m on LinkedIn, Mario Pecoraro. You can email me, mpecoraro, that’s P-E-C-O-R-A-R-O, @allianceriskgroup. You can also reach me on Twitter, @marioawig. And, of course, if you Google me, you’ll find me as well, probably in a positive light, not negative one.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:33] Wonderful. Thanks again for being on the show. It’s been great chatting with you.
Mario Pecoraro: [00:07:36] Thanks for having me.
Outro: [00:07:41] Thank you for joining us on Workplace MVP. R3 Continuum is a proud sponsor of this show and is delighted to celebrate most valuable professionals who work diligently to secure safe workplaces where employees can thrive.