Focus on Forensic Accounting

October 16, 2019

Investment Investigators See Rise in Demand Due to Increases in Finance Fraud

Forensic Accounting, as explained by the Investopedia article, is a field of specialization within accounting and auditing that investigates, examines and analyzes data to determine fraud, embezzlement and other potentially criminal activities. Forensic accountants are often called upon to be expert witnesses in court, to unravel complex financial and business evidence and then explain them in terms that non-accountants can understand or to work in dispute resolutions for companies or organizations. 

Who Hires A Forensic Accountant?

  • Insurance companies for work on malpractice claims or disputes regarding damages;
  • Police Forces and Government Agencies to investigate high-profile crimes, to search “for hidden assets in divorce cases,” or to determine employee theft; and
  • Banks and Businesses to look for securities fraud, fraudulent financial statements, identity theft or breach of contract.
Who Employs Forensic Accountants

How National Intelligence Agencies Leverage Forensic Accounting Expertise

Those who excel in forensic accounting can be employed by the FBI to work on national security matters, assist special agents and provide critical testimony in court. The FBI hires forensic accountants to investigate situations involving various types of fraud plus:

  • Counterintelligence
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Cyber-crime
  • Organized crime
  • Public corruption 
  • Violent crime

Strong Communication Skills Help Applicants Stand Out 

Because forensic accountants must work closely with other departments and are expected to testify and explain case details often, communication and general social skills are of great importance to this position in addition to knowledge of accounting and law.

Fraud Finders: The Rising Increase in Demand for Forensic Accountants 

Finding Fraud With Accounting

The need for forensic accountants and auditors is increasing because of a greater public awareness of and intolerance for fraudulent activities, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. To enter the forensics field, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required in accounting, finance or forensic accounting. Additionally, training in criminal justice, law, insurance or other areas of focus (depending upon the desired employer) can be beneficial. 

The Benefits of Becoming a Forensic Accountant

Aside from an increase in demand for candidates and a growing number of opportunities, the Forensic Accountant profession carries additional career benefits. A CPA who obtains the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential can also improve salary opportunities by 31% on average over those without certification. The Journal of Accountancy provides more details about the certification process.

Finding Differences Between Accounting Manager & Forensic Accountant

A Closer Look: The Differences Between Accounting Manager & Forensic Accountant

Yasmine Misuraca CPA, CFE, explains her process in becoming a forensic accountant in The CPA Journal. After becoming an accounting manager, Ms. Misuraca was approached by a recruiter for a position in forensic accounting and was interested in the challenges involved in assisting attorneys and solving complex puzzles and decided to make the career change. 

Ms. Misuraca explained that the client cannot always be supported, stating, “One of the many things I have learned is that a forensic accountant’s role and an attorney’s focus or goal differ in one important aspect: CPAs must maintain their objectivity. We are not advocates for our clients, but for our own independent judgment.” The bottom-line goal in forensic accounting is to use the tools and knowledge to reveal the truth in each situation.

Still need to pass the CPA Exam while on your way to becoming a Forensic Accountant? MDS CPA Review has an entire resource library and four-part course to help you pass the CPA Exam.