According to The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), careers in fraud and forensics, also known as forensic accounting, generally involve the application of specialized knowledge and investigative skills to examine and analyze the finances of an individual or business to determine whether there has been financial reporting misconduct. Forensic accountants often work for public accounting firms, government agencies, law enforcement, and financial institutions.
To further explore this growing career field, we sat down with our Partner and fraud expert, Karen Webber, to discuss what a career in fraud and forensics looks like, the benefits of this career path, and what skills are needed to succeed!
The Benefits of a Career in Fraud & Forensics
Like many new accounting professionals, you may not know exactly where you want to go with your career. You have the accounting education, but where do you go next?
After a summer internship at a Big 4 firm, Karen found herself in this exact situation. She knew she didn’t want to focus exclusively on doing financial statement audits, however, she was already almost finished with her accounting education. “At this point, I knew I could only change course. SUNY Brockport was launching a master’s program in forensic accounting, which sounded very interesting, so I enrolled in its inaugural class,” shared Karen.
If you are finding yourself in a similar situation and don’t know where to go with your accounting education, a career in fraud and forensics may just be the next step for you. Below are just some of the benefits this career path can offer:
- Job Security— Fraud and litigation, like death and taxes, will never go away, so if you’re looking for job security you can definitely find it in this field.
- Diverse Workload— Fraud & forensic services fall into the category of consulting, so projects are all very different. Every client and situation are unique, so there will be no shortage of unique experiences.
- Build Analytical Skills— As a forensic accountant, your role is to produce the right mix of staff and procedures to get to the root of the problem. “The more experience you gain, the more value you can provide clients through thoughtful recommendations,” added Karen. These analytical skills are extremely valuable and can be useful in nearly any industry.
- Opportunity— The fraud & forensics industry is ever-changing and growing, making it the perfect space for natural entrepreneurs. With endless niches to explore comes endless opportunity.
- Ability to Help Others— A career in fraud & forensics also allows you to directly help businesses and individuals. During graduate school, Karen had an internship with a regional aging services nonprofit where she assisted social workers with investigating financial abuse of older adults. “It was an amazing way to use my skills to help victims of crime,” she shared.
Skills Needed in Fraud & Forensics
Of course, to succeed in a career in fraud and forensics, you must have the skills critical to any career in auditing and assurance such as data analysis, fact-checking, etc. However, a career in fraud may also be for you if you:
- Are bored easily. Work changes daily thanks to the variety of clients and the type of work they need.
- Are curious. We don’t stop asking questions or digging for more information to get to the answer – was fraud committed? Are assets hiding somewhere? How did it happen?
- Are creative. There are no instructions for our engagements, so you rely on your own skills, experience, and available information to come up with an answer.
- Have strong writing and communication skills. Every engagement requires some form of written deliverable, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation for a company board or a formal report for court. Those deliverables need to be concise, clear, and compelling.
- Like to network and be social. Most cases in our department are referred to us by attorneys, government agencies, other Certified Public Accountants (CPA), and even our own firm. Developing relationships with individuals in the community and wider social network are key to generating business each year.
Fraud & Forensics at TBG
At The Bonadio Group (TBG), fraud investigations are just one of the types of engagement our practitioners work on. We handle partnership/corporation disputes, insurance claim evaluations, government compliance investigations, internal control and fraud risk assessments, fraud prevention strategies, fraud hotline services, divorce and matrimonial disputes, and estate litigation, among others.
If there is a legal or compliance issue, and an organization or individual needs an independent assessment, investigation, or valuation – it lands on the desks of our fraud & forensics team.
“Bonadio is a great place to grow and make change in the accounting field because of how much we support entrepreneurship; it’s the “E” in our employee PROMISE,” added Karen.
For those interested in a career in fraud who have just finished school, Karen recommends starting with an internship. “While our fraud & forensics team doesn’t currently hire directly out of school, we do offer internships within our Assurance department here at Bonadio. For students in college, our assurance department is a great place to take your first job and then potentially move into a career in fraud after a couple years of experience!” shared Karen.
“Our staff need a solid understanding of internal controls, risk, and how financial statements work to be effective forensic accountants, so we would like to see at least two years of full-time assurance experience. Other areas of expertise we look for are data analytics, internal audit, fraud certifications such as the CFE or CFF.”
Karen encourages experienced hired to apply at any time. “The depth and breadth of Bonadio’s services is unmatched in the area, and we’re always looking to fill our talent bench,” she added.
If you are interested in learning more about a career in fraud & forensics at TBG, don’t hesitate to reach out today! And feel free to check out our current openings on our Careers page to get started with an application.
This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.