A career as a Forensic Accountant can be an exciting one. On a daily basis, you’ll be involved in critical investigations, valuations and analyses of financial data that can help reveal evidence of breaches, bankruptcy, fraud, embezzlement or even espionage.
Below, we offer some key tips on how to kickstart your career as a Forensic Accountant, and what you need to keep in mind regarding future employment, further education and skills.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Start With a Qualification in Accounting
- 2 2. Have an Idea of Where You Want to Work
- 3 3. Work On Getting Your CA or CPA
- 4 4. Consider Specialising in a Specific Area
- 5 5. Understand Your Required Responsibilities
- 6 6. Get Used to Working as Part of a Team
- 7 7. Ensure Your Communication Skills Are Spot On
- 8 8. Be Curious!
1. Start With a Qualification in Accounting
- All accountants will require, at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
- If you aren’t able to enter directly into a Bachelor program, you can also consider commencing your accounting studies with a Certificate or Diploma course.
- Certificates and Diploma courses can be an excellent way to introduce yourself to the world of accounting and learn more about whether Forensic Accounting is going to be right for you.
2. Have an Idea of Where You Want to Work
- Having an idea of where you ideally want to work once you graduate (or while you are studying) can help shape your career goals and pathway.
- Forensic Accountants can be employed in a variety of settings. Many work for government organisations, such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the police force.
- Others work in the private sector, often for private companies like accounting consultancies, insurance firms, banking corporations and legal practices.
3. Work On Getting Your CA or CPA
- Once you’ve obtained a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, your next step will be to obtain a Chartered Accountant or Certified Public Accountant qualification. Most companies will require this qualification in order to employ you.
- During this time, it can also be a good idea to undertake further education and studies that specifically address your Forensic Accounting interests.
- For instance, you may want to complete a course that teaches you the ins-and-outs of fraud investigation or you could go on to complete a higher degree that directly focuses on Forensic Accounting.
4. Consider Specialising in a Specific Area
Forensic Accountants can work across a variety of specialisations, but some can choose to build their expertise and career in a specific area. Examples of these areas can include:
- Fraud and criminal investigations
- Bankruptcy and insolvency
- Insurance claims
- Personal injury claims
- Matrimony disputes
- Business valuations and audits
You may not have a clear idea as yet of which accounting area you want to specialise in (if any), but keep these options in mind when you begin your studies and start formulating your desired career pathway.
5. Understand Your Required Responsibilities
A Forensic Accountant does much more than review financial data all day long. On each project, your other tasks and responsibilities may involve:
- Planning investigations in detail and outlining goals and methodologies
- Creating financial or data models for use in investigations
- Researching and scrutinising complicated transactions
- Quantifying losses or profits
- Writing and presenting reports and other documents
- Forming and implementing processes and procedures
- Mediating between various third parties and assisting with negotiations
- Understanding relevant rules and laws regarding specific cases
- Presenting evidence and testifying in court as an expert witness and/or explaining your methodologies to juries and judges
- Having a firm understanding of the rules of evidence and the code of conduct
- Adhering to compliance and legislation regulations as required
6. Get Used to Working as Part of a Team
- Forensic Accountants often work as members of investigative teams, which may include other forensic accountants, private investigators, business stakeholders (such as partners and investors), document examiners and financial or business managers.
- As such, great team-building skills are essential for any Forensic Accountant. You’ll need to be comfortable and confident in working with others, as well as possess great communication and negotiation skills and be able to engage various stakeholders at all levels of the investigation.
7. Ensure Your Communication Skills Are Spot On
- Since they frequently work in business environments and often have to present evidence in court, Forensic Accountants must have fantastic communication skills.
- In Australia, a strong grasp of English is mandatory, as is the ability to both write and speak with clarity, precision and simplicity.
- Throughout your cases, you may be required to explain complex information in basic terms to partners and other parties, as well as outline your insights to others using detailed or technical terms and information.
8. Be Curious!
Forensic Accountants don’t just take what they see at face value. They’re curious, inquisitive people who love to dig beneath the data, think outside the box and ask the hard questions based on the evidence they see. Sound like you?