Forensic accounting is a particularly fascinating branch of the profession. Its primary focus is collecting and leveraging data for litigation: “forensic” literally means “suitable for use in a court of law.” Thus, accountants in this field are often tasked with investigating fraud in complicated financial transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and contract disputes. Forensic accountants are also indispensable in the task of catching white collar criminals and bringing them to justice
Forensic Accountants investigate complex financial crimes involving corporate fraud, financial institution fraud, healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, and securities and commodities fraud. Their expertise is also applied to counterintelligence, counterterrorism, cyber-crime, organized crime, public corruption and violent crime investigations.
Forensic accountants are regularly called on to provide evidence and expert witness testimony in courts, arbitrations and mediations. This evidence may be used to help an attorney establish their case or reinforce the merits of their argument. In other instances, the evidence may be utilized to refute the conclusions that are being proposed by opposing counsel. When serving as expert witnesses in court proceedings, forensic accountants give testimony that is based upon sufficient facts or data that is the product of reliable and accepted principles and methods.
As a forensic accountant, you can expect to carry out a range of duties including:
- extracting data from financial records;
- creating and manipulating spreadsheets;
- performing forensic research to trace funds and identify assets for recovery;
- Traveling abroad to conduct investigations.
- Asset misappropriation
- Record reconstruction
- Asset tracing
- Analysis of records
- Bankruptcy investigations
- Insurance claims/fraud
- Fraud and embezzlement
- Shareholder disputes
- Civil and criminal financial cases
- Detection of hidden assets
- Financial statement irregularities
- Regulatory investigations
- Domestic matters
- Identification of fraudulent transactions
- Settlement negotiations
- Damage calculations
- Forensic investigations
Needless to say that you will need strong accounting skills to be forensic accounter, however there some additional skills that are required as well:
- Remarkable curiosity
- Attention to detail
- The ability to think creatively
- Communicate effectively
- Analytical and research skills
Forensic accountant are used by insurance companies, independent adjustment firms, lawyers, government and law enforcement agencies as well as by businesses of all sizes – from multi-national corporations to small businesses.
Large accounting firms quite often have a forensic accounting department, however, there are also firms such as MDD Forensic Accountants that are dedicated to providing economic damage quantification and litigation support solely for forensic accounting matters.
Most employers require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forensic accounting, general accounting, finance, or a related field, and many employers prefer candidates who also have CPA, CFE, CFF-AICPA, and/or CIA certification. They must master accounting and financial analytical theories and practices and understand various funding mechanisms and monetary transfers. Because they work to solve white-collar crime such as money laundering, fraudulent insurance claims, embezzlement, and hidden assets, they must be skilled in intelligence-gathering and analysis and should also be familiar with generally-accepted accounting principles and relevant governmental regulations.
The average Forensic accountant salary is £48,648. This is 44.1% above the national average advertised salary of £33,761.