Competitive Intelligence Australia was formed in 1990 with the express purpose of providing investigative consulting, intelligence gathering and strategic media advice to corporate Australia.


Our activities encompass the identification of fraud, investigation (to a criminal standard of proof if appropriate) of the methodology of the fraud, the persons responsible, and advising on fraud prevention and minimisation.

Asset Tracing

When a fraud is perpetrated, or when the question of sequestered or hidden assets is relevant to a creditor or a commercially related party we act to identify and trace those assets locally, nationally and offshore. It is often the case that assets are held by trusts and nominees, and it is our task to see behind these impediments with a view to attachment or recovery of the identified assets.

Asset Recovery

When assets have been identified, it is then necessary to advise on the most effective strategies to prevent further dispersal of these assets and effect their swift recovery.

Merger and Acquisition/Due Diligence & Competitor Assessment

The provision of accurate and timely commercial intelligence is a critical factor in making the right commercial decision. Competitive Intelligence Australia acts to provide that information utilising online information, its commercial database, extensive networking and the hard analysis of information gained in the field.

Litigation Support

Competitive Intelligence Australia has acted for most of Australia's major law firms, locating witnesses, interviewing and providing admissible statements, and providing strategic advice on tactical issues across all jurisdictions.

Product Liability

Our activities have seen us acting for law firms and their clients across a range of product liability litigation including pharmaceutical, medical and chemical based claims. Similarly we act as crisis manager when a potential claim arises, devising programmes to handle the issues in a non litigious manner, and to deal with the media.

Risk Assessment

Another segment of our intelligence gathering is to provide the assessment of commercial risk both in a business environment and geo politically. We have acted extensively throughout Asia and the Pacific region. Inquiries in this area have included matters of reputation, true worth, political strategy, and negotiating edges.

Intellectual Property

Over the years, Competitive Intelligence Australia has acted for software and hardware manufacturers, clothing designers, furniture designers, publishers, and so on. Our purpose is to identify counterfeiting, passing off, and grey area marketing, and obtain the evidence necessary to allow our client to properly deal with the incident, and to devise programmes to minimise the risk of damage to their intellectual property.

Trade Practices

We have acted to obtain evidence of matters such as restrictive commercial practices, price fixing, and franchising due diligence.


Competitive Intelligence Australia has acted for Australia's leading media companies (both electronic and print) in providing intelligence and evidence to properly defend or successfully negotiate settlements in defamation matters. Much of the work touches on finding evidence of truth or reputation.

Media/Crisis Management

Strategic media advice is an essential component of contemporary commercial practise. Our work in this area is to provide both proactive and reactive advice to clients on matters of media and issues management, public affairs, media training, and prevention, minimisation or management of a crisis.

Preparation & handling of Courts & Inquiries

The witness box is one of the loneliest places in the world and a place where reputations can be decimated swiftly. With long experience (including giving evidence/expert evidence) in major litigation, commissions of inquiry and parliamentary inquiries we are uniquely experienced to support you or your organisation in the planning, preparation and media management in challenging and controversial matters.

The Principals

The Principals conduct the bulk of the work, and use specialist consultants as required.

Alan Cole

Before founding Competitive Intelligence Australia (CIA), Alan had a long career in senior positions in corporate Australia. After qualifying as a chartered accountant, he spent many years as a client advisor with a major share broking firm, before joining one of the ‘big six’ accounting/consultancy practises.

His last position prior to CIA was as general manager of a national law firm. Alan has worked extensively throughout Asia and the Pacific on investigations and trade matters. He is a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and holds a NSW Commercial & Private Inquiry Agent’s licence.

Duncan McNab

Duncan is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of 12 books, TV producer (long form current affairs) and a media/communications adviser in politics in Australia and the UK, and the corporate sector. His specialty is in media/issues/crisis management, and preparation and involvement in major litigation, Commissions of Inquiry and parliamentary inquiries. He’s worked as director of communications across multiple portfolios at Cabinet level.

His career started as detective in the NSW Police Force, specialising in fraud and anti-corruption. On leaving, he worked in major criminal defence (including some of Australia’s highest profile cases), corporate investigations, litigation and intelligence gathering. He’s given evidence in criminal & civil cases, commissions of inquiry and parliamentary inquires and has been accredited as an expert witness by the NSW Supreme Court.


The market in which Competitive Intelligence Australia operates is one in which borders are easily swept aside. Since our inception our work has taken us from remote locations through to the commercial hub of the cities. Our clients needs often require us to act internationally, and we have thus worked in Europe, throughout the Americas and with great frequency in the Asia/Pacific region, achieving solutions across a broad range of commercial needs. Recent work has taken us to the United Kingdom, East Coast USA, Malaysia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Our experiences enable us to act with authority in localities which are noted for their tax haven or offshore banking functions.
Flexibility is an integral part of our response to client requirements, and we are able to react immediately if required.