It’s only by being a forensic accountant that you can combine your exceptional ability to work with the numbers and continue to serve the society by tracking down and bringing to justice, the criminals who fraud and maraud with the nation’s money. A Sherlock Holmes to the financial crimes! Touted as the fastest growing area of accounting, forensic accounting is the practice of utilizing, auditing, and investigative skills to assist in legal matters involving law enforcement, court litigation, legal disputes, and so on. In simple words, forensic accountants use their accounting skills to detect the presence of malware in the financial activities and reporting the same to the higher authorities, backed up with evidence, through reports and documents. In context of many financial frauds being committed worldwide, the need for forensic accountants has doubled. The accountants need to strive for high level of skills in both, accounting and investigative, and intensive research.
Becoming A Forensic Accountant
A Bachelor’s degree in accounting is the basic requirement to qualify as a forensic accountant. Some employers prefer candidates with a Master’s degree. Apart from this, in order to improve your chances to work with the best, it’s recommended to complete internships and get good exposure and experience of a few years by working with Certified Forensic Accountant (CrFA) or Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE). To make it in this highly qualified field, the forensic accountants are required to gain Certified Forensic Accountant or Certified Fraud Examiner’s designation. A Bachelor’s degree, minimum 2 years of experience, passing an examination, and adhering to the codes of ethics are required to qualify as a CrFA or CFE.
Many degree level and certification courses in Forensic Accounting are available across the world with lots of specialization subjects such as Accounting Fraud Examination Concepts, Concepts of Federal Income Tax, Accounting Fraud Examination Conduct and Procedures, Forensic Accounting & the Legal Environment, Litigation Services in Forensic Accounting etc. Forensic accountants must also complete annual continuing education courses to renew their certifications.
First and foremost, forensic accountants are required to possess in-depth knowledge of all the accounting terminology, legal laws and regulations required in the trials. They also need to keep themselves updated on all the changes and modifications.
Forensic accountants need strong investigative skills to track down what financial fraud was committed and by whom.
They need to be mentally able to handle all that is going through the transactions and crosscheck them again to make sure that something’s not amiss.
They also need to be determined to not to back out under pressure.
Strong communication and interpersonal skills is a must for forensic accountants as the job requires them to meet many new and different people on an every day basis.
They should refrain from “you miss I hit” mentality and need to back their findings with proper proof that will ultimately help lay the criminal charges on the guilty person/party involved.
Roles & Responsibilities
Using their accounting knowledge to the full, it’s the responsibility of a forensic accountant to thoroughly go through all the transactions and check and recheck them for presence of any embezzlement, fraud, illegitimate payments, and data gathering, and research for the same. However, this is not enough, for they also need to track down the source that caused the anomaly, whether through mistake or misrepresentation. It is their obligation as a forensic accountant to not to take anything for granted or lay charges on anyone without proof. The proof then needs to be checked again to correctly determine its viability. Forensic accountants are required to play an active role during the buildup of legal cases, in interviews, testifying in the civil and criminal trials as witnesses. They also need to properly record the proceedings of the investigation and its results into thoroughly analyzed reports and documentation backed up by proper evidence and hand it over to the demanding parties.
The booming economy and the expanding financial crimes demands for forensic accounting to be put into practice all the much more. It’s said that the employment for forensic accountant is being expected to grow by 18% by the year 2016. With options to specialize in forensic accounting field in specific areas like insurance claims, fraud, royalty audits, real estate, personal injury claims, or construction; and need to replace the retired, transferred, or those who have left the field will further open employment opportunities. The annual salary of a forensic accountant depends a great deal on education, experience, industry, and employer.
It requires some back-bending effort to be put in by checking through the multitude of transactions and then becoming a bloodhound on a trail to the ones who did it, while at the the same time keeping yourself updated on all the changes. But if this is what you’re good at, becoming a forensic accountant will definitely put all your efforts to good use.