Guest Author - Consuelo Herrera, CAMS, CFE
Many in the business world know accountants just as bookkeepers, tax advisers, and financial statements' issuers. However, there is a role that enhances the services provided by accountants: The role of the Forensic Accountant.
Forensic accountants see where and what others donít see. Forensic accountants see beyond financial records.
Using their combination of skills and knowledge in the fields of accounting, finance, tax matters, auditing, business law, investigation techniques, along with their strong ethical grounds as well as communication abilities and analytical skills, many forensic accountants have made a difference in a court proceeding.
Although this is an exciting path, it brings its challenges.
The excitement comes when forensic accountants help entrepreneurs save money in many ways. For example, by implementing internal procedures that prevent and deter fraud, by uncovering fraud when it has undermined a corporationís earnings, by giving accurate calculations when a legal proceeding takes place, for instance, on lost revenue, determining a true value of assets, or, maybe, determining the amount of an insurance claim. There are many fields where a forensic accountant brings facts to a dispute resolution.
Challenges come when forensic accountants have to be resourceful in fact-finding situations and information gathering to prove that fraud effectively existed. Challenge comes too when there is a gap between what the client expects and the forensic accountant can deliver. For that reason, before signing an engagement, a forensic accountant must make sure that his or her client knows that there is a possibility that fraud will not be found or that the fraudster tactics will not be uncovered as a result of an investigation.
Are you ready for this kind of excitement and its challenges? The accounting world has shifted to a global challenge that combines knowledge and technical skills with thoughtful and charming personalities willing to respect cultural differences.
Business owners should be ready to benefit from the wealth of knowledge that forensic accountants bring to the table and seek their advice when fraud situations arise, when claims come their way, when disputes amongst partners are unresolved, etc.
For instance, an insurance company seeking a Loss Prevention Consultant, one of the fields where forensic accountants can excel, posted the candidateís responsibilities as follows:
Under limited supervision, provides loss prevention consulting services for a property casualty insurance carrier. Conducts extensive field research, data collection, evaluation and analysis in order to make recommendations to control customer's source of risk, loss and/or costs. Maintains advanced level of understanding loss prevention products, services and operations within realm of responsibility.
Welcome to the exciting and challenging world of forensic accounting.
Numbers alone are meaningless. Financial records analyzed by a forensic accountant are meaningful.
The true challenge for forensic accountants is seeing beyond financial records.