What is Forensic Accounting?

Posted by: Patricia Barlow Post Date: 2nd July 2015

American crime boss Al Capone, responsible for violent criminal activities from bootlegging to prostitution over a period of seven years, was finally brought down in 1931 on charges of tax evasion.

Forensic accountants reviewed millions of documents, giving authorities the evidence they needed to prosecute the renowned gangster.

What is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accountants are the detectives of the accounting world. They investigate cases of fraud and other financial crimes such as bribery and corruption, and Al Capone is just one example of how they can help crack important cases.

In a forensic accounting role, you will interrogate the financial accounts of companies and individuals to uncover possible crimes, and will often work with legal professionals like lawyers and police officers to solve cases.

What qualifications do I need?

To enter a career in forensic accounting, you need to demonstrate you have the appropriate knowledge. This not only makes you more attractive to employers, and opens you up to more competitive roles, but being highly competent allows you to advance more quickly in your career.

It’s a good idea to start with an AAT qualification, which gives you a thorough grounding in accounting theory and practice. Many people then continue onto a more advanced accounting qualification such as ACCA. The more qualified you become, the better career opportunities you will have. When you have gained some experience, you can even go on to gain qualifications highly specific to the industry, becoming a member of a professional body such as the CFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners).

Which accounting career path is right for you?

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Skills and experience

To enter a forensic accounting role, you will usually need experience of working in a professional accounting position, and it’s helpful to have at least 3 years’ auditing experience. Your experience will help you develop the skills you need to excel in your career, such as the following:

Problem solving

You’ll be responsible for solving highly complex problems within a forensic accounting role. You need to be able to scrutinise paperwork in order to find out where money went and how it has been covered up, quickly identifying inconsistencies.

Analysis

You need to be able to spot patterns, as this will help to identify where money is, and how it has been covered up. It is also important to be organised and methodical in your approach to tasks.

Working alone

Forensic accounting roles often involve work alone, looking at paperwork for many hours. You will need to be able to work to deadlines and be motivated to complete tasks with little outside motivation.

Strong communication skills

Once you have completed your investigation, you will need to communicate your findings. You may need to communicate to people who do not understand the financial workings, including court hearings, so you will need to have the ability to speak to people at different levels of knowledge.

To find out more about embarking on a career in forensic accounting, get in touch below.

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