| September 2017 |
Forensic AuditorDO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT?
Besides a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting, forensic accounting, finance or a related field, there are certain skills one must have, or acquire in order to pursue a future with forensic accounting. It certainly doesn't hurt to have some education in law enforcement or criminal justice as well.
Initially, you’ll need a thorough knowledge of the legal system and its procedures, which are generally vast and at times confusing. You’ll need to be able to gather forensic intelligence, and in order to do that, you’ll need to know where to get that particular information and the best way to gather it. Accounting procedures will become second nature to you as you continue your career path, and computer applications will be honed to perfection. When it comes to statistics, hold on to your hat. They’re everywhere and you’ll be working with many variables. You’ll be working in a field called regression analysis where you begin the process of elimination and analysis.
Your knowledge of white-collar crime will certainly increase as you delve into money laundering, GAAP violations, Insurance claim fraud, Telemarketing fraud, Check Fraud (also known as Check Kiting). Your head will swim with details as you delve into Contract and procurement fraud. With the rise of foreclosures, mortgage fraud is on the increase, which can be incorporated into securities fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Credit card fraud is rampant with stolen ID’s and as money becomes less available, people become more desperate.
There are any number of areas in which you can specialize. Chose from a variety of fraud situations as listed above, or continue on with embezzlement and illicit fund transactions. Companies are more and more getting “creative” with their financial statements, hoping to outsmart the IRS perhaps? Of perhaps you’ll investigate asset misappropriation and will have to assess damages done to companies because of the increase in fraudulent activity.
Hopefully analysis is your thing, because you’ll be immersed in it. From everything to Financial Date analysis, to the integrity of evidence, you’ll be writing reports for legal use as companies and individuals use your service to find the fraud perpetrated upon their organizations or persons. Locating hidden assets is rather like a scavenger hunt for auditors, and after you’ve found all this fraud and money, you may find yourself testifying in court as an expert witness.
You’ll become skilled in Interpersonal communication as detail builds upon detail. Your verbal skills will increase with practice as well as your written communications. Your analytical mind will love paying attention to detail as you dig into areas once foreign to you.
You’ll have to be a self starter with integrity, an independent worker with objectivity and your analytical mind will help you become a credible witness.
Keep in mind that Forensic Accountants and Auditors are hired by many different types of employers. Your skills can be put to work for a public account firm in their forensic accounting division, or often times consulting firms and interested in the type of skills you can bring to their table. You may be hired by an attorney,or law enforcement agencies. Insurance companies, financial institutions such as banks or other lending institutions, government organizations and the like, are also aware of the fraud perpetrated. With the rise of the Internet, Forensic Accountants are more and more in demand.
Becoming credentialed as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) provides Forensic Accountants with the ability to perform effective investigations because of the technical knowledge training. An analytical mind is necessary for forensic accountants because they must decide which areas the organization for which they work, need their immediate attention. Remembering that fraud is generally hidden, patience is essential as the task is often very difficult, and can consume much of your time. You'll be very familiar with fraud schemes and your ability to analyze data will prove invaluable to your employer, or to yourself should you be self-employed.
According to ACFE, which is the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education, CFEs earn a 22 percent income premium over their peers without the credential, which establishes the fact that employers value greatly that credential.
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