The two primary areas a forensic account will specialize in are litigation support and investigation.
When you think of the day in the life of an accountant you would be right to assume it involves a lot of numbers, paperwork and data entry. However, over the last ten years, many new jobs and opportunities have opened up for a different type of accountant. This kind of accountant still uses numbers, analytics and auditing but they are also crime-fighting, business saving, investigative double agents. This job is the life of a forensic accountant, and this career can be yours with a forensic accounting degree.
Forensic Accounting Job Description
A general job description consists of an accountant who investigates financial irregularities and value businesses or economic loss. The ability to provide testimony as an expert witness in criminal and civil cases. A forensic accountant does not determine if fraud was committed; they are responsible for providing the information necessary for a court of law to make that decision.
The two primary areas a forensic account will specialize in are litigation support and investigation. A typical day for a forensic accountant varies. Most days are typical of any accountant job—you’ll examine financial statements and ensure records are accurate. On other days, you may be fighting white collar crimes and asked to appear in court as an expert witness. Providing testimony about financial irregularities, procurement, head executives “cooking the books” and industrial espionage.
Accountants providing litigation support prepare details of financial statements regarding losses from misdeeds, along with potential judgments and awards due as a result of the lawsuit and wrongdoing. They work closely with attorneys to decide what damages to seek in the private and public sectors.
Investigative accountants provide expertise and information regarding tax law and accounting practices. They are often the first to identify fraudulent bookkeeping; money laundering, tax evasion, and embezzlement. Occasionally their expertise may be called upon to assist in the investigation of crimes related to securities fraud and the location of financiers of terrorism and criminal acts.
Famous white collar crimes or famous court cases when a forensic account testimony was used to determine guilt or divorce settlements are:
- Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills’ divorce
- Al Capone’s taxes
- The Enron scandal
- Martha Stewart Living Omni media
Forensic Accounting Job Outlook and Salary:
CNNMoney lists forensic accounting as one of their top 100 careers with big growth, great pay, and satisfying work, and ranked forensic accountant as the 24th best job in America. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook reported a median annual salary for a forensic accountant to be $65,940 in the United States.
The expected job growth over the next ten years for all accountant/auditor position is 11 percent according to the BLS, who say. “Stricter laws and regulations, particularly in the financial sector, will likely increase the demand for accounting services as organizations seek to comply with new standards.”
Most popular industries for careers are:
- Regulatory agency: FDIC, FED, FTC, NLRB, SEC
- Law Enforcement: FBI, Police Officer, Military Officer
- Government: U.S. Treasury Department, Local, City and State agencies.
- Family Law, Private Practice
Some similar job titles are:
- Forensic Accountant
- Investigative Auditors
- Fraud Investigators
- Forensic Auditors.
Typical qualifications needed to apply for this type of position are:
- Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Business
- On Average 5+ years of accounting or auditing experience
- Typically licensed or working on license as a CPA/ABV/ASA/CVA/CBA/CFE/CFA
- Superior verbal and written communication skills.
- Possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills
CFE vs. Traditional Accounting
Becoming a CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) is a great way to become a niche specialist within the field of accounting. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, CFEs earn 23 percent more than their non-certified counterparts. You can visit their website and learn even more about the world of fraud examination.
Attributes that can help sweeten your resume and get the job:
- Minor in Criminal Justice or Business Law
- Master’s degree in accounting
- Able to obtain a Top Secret-SCI clearance
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