Generally, forensic accountants work for insurance companies, banks, government agencies, and police forces to detect fraudulent activities, and some run their own independent practices. Their work focuses heavily on investigating and analyzing financial evidence, and some may also assist in legal proceedings. They also serve as expert witnesses in courtroom settings and prepare visual aids as needed.
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.
Forensic accountants must be able to use computer hardware and software to gather and analyze various financial information. They should be skilled with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), online researching, and various database management systems and analytical software. Integrity is also important; they must be honest and ethical and pass background checks, and many also hold a certain level of security clearance. The ability to work in a team environment is also important. Generally, forensic accountants are advised to attend workshops, conferences, and additional training sessions as required by their employers or on a voluntary basis to improve their knowledge. They should also read relevant journals and always stay up-to-date with new technologies to help solve fraudulent activities.
Forensic Accountant Tasks
Ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
Prepare reports and summary of findings.
Research, analyze and compile account histories, financial documents and transactions.
Utilize accounting principles, financial analysis and auditing knowledge to prepare for legal disputes or litigation.