When you ask people to give you a list of exciting careers, accounting is never near the top. The accounting career field tend to draw the sedentary folks: steady, analytical types who value security above all else. You're basically there to keep the wheels of business turning; a plumber directing the flow of money instead of water.
However, the growing shape of the global business market and the scandals wracking the business world has heightened the increasing need for a rare breed of accountant; the forensic accountant is either an internal or external auditor who is approached in order to investigate the scene of a fraud, bankruptcy, securities scandal, or other conflicted situation and prepare a report identifying what happened. It is called a forensic function primarily because it's results can be used in a court of law.
What's the job like?
There are actually many scenarios in which a forensic accountant may be needed: disputes and litigation, insurance claims, personal injury claims, construction audits, insurance fraud, fraud audit, or Wall Street scandals are some of the specialties in this field. Most accounting firms have a cabinet of forensic accounting specialists. These people are sent in the after of a fraud to assess if the numbers in the books reflect reality, and if not, then identify what's really going on.
A forensic accountant does not have the luxury of being able to disregard anything that does not happen on a spreadheet. They have to take the big picture into account, dealing with the whole reality of the business situation. A forensic accounting procedure will typically include investigating and analyzing financial evidence, using computerized applications to present the financial evidence, delivering the findings in the form of reports, collecting and exhibiting documents, and perhaps testifying in court as an expert witness. In addition to knowledge of accounting, a forensic accountant must also be familiar with legal concepts and procedures.
The two sides of forensic accounting – investigation and litigation support, break down into several smaller steps:
In the investigation, you may review the situation and suggest possible courses of action, assist with the protection and recovery of assets, and work hand-in-hand with private investigators, forensic document examiners, and consultants. People may lie. The books may be cooked. Keep your eyes open!
During litigation support, you may be liable for providing the documentation necessary to support or refute a claim, presenting the initial assessment of the case identifying areas of loss, assisting with the examination for discovery, reviewing the testimony, reviewing the opposing expert's report, and assist with the settlement discussions and negotiations. Attorneys and witnesses may contradict you. You might have to keep digging deeper into a cover-up. Most of all, you will have to convince one judge and twelve jurors that you're the right person to be testifying about the case.
By no means are forensic accountants bound to an office or a courtroom. There are a wide range of industries which retain the services of a forensic accountant. Matrimonial …