The field of forensic accounting has grown in leaps and bound in recent decades. The spate of financial and business crimes that has hit big and small companies and organizations across the world has led to the need for investigative accounting. The growth in information technology has given forensic accountants many helpful and innovative tools to make their job easier. If you are an accountant planning to join this lucrative field, you can be assured that you will be kept on your toes at all times. But what exactly does a forensic accountant do? Unsure of what a forensic accounting job will entail? Read on.
Forensic Accounting Job Profile
Forensics involves a pretty wide range of responsibilities. But they can be categorized into a few broad segments. In short, the forensic accountant will use his knowledge of accounting and the laws of the state or nation to analyze a client’s financial record. This is not done only if a crime is detected. Many companies have forensic accountants on the payroll just to ensure that their accounts are in order and they are complying with all the laws.
The main duty of a forensic accountant is investigation into the accounts to uncover evidence of manipulation of records for financial gain. This is done manually as well as with the use of sophisticated software especially designed to comb through mammoth volumes of financial data.
One of the first things that any forensic accounting assignment will have to do is look into the accounts for any errors or irregularities. This is a very basic requirement and will be your first step whether you are investigating the shop around the corner, a multinational company, or a government organization. It is from this first overview that you can glean the accounting techniques or patterns of that particular client.
If any complex transactions exist, a detailed analysis will be required to ensure that it is all on the up and up. This can take a long time and may sometimes have to be painstakingly conducted by hand.
If any discrepancy is revealed, then it is the forensic accountant’s job to assist with recovering the assets that have been lost. He may be required to testify in court, draw up graphs or make presentations that explain financial jargon to the jury, and assist the lawyers with cross-examination of the opposing expert.
In case of fraud, embezzlement or money laundering, the forensic accountant also needs to calculate the extent of the financial damage for insurance purposes as well as for the client to be able to claim compensation in a court of law. He may have to sit in on legal negotiations, attend the trial, contribute to testimony, and provide his unique insight into the financial aspects of the case in order to help his client achieve a favorable verdict or settlement.
Each case or forensic accounting job from start to finish can take weeks or months, depending on the size of the company and the extent of the crimes. And at the end of it all, the forensic accountant will have to write out a detailed report about his investigation.