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What does a forensic accountant do?

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Quick Answer

A forensic accountant combines investigation skills with accounting skills to examine financial records and reports and ensure accurate tracking of financial data. In many cases, forensic accountants work on projects where actual litigation or disputes are in question. In these situations, forensic accountants review financial data, investigate any potential discrepancies, and produce reports or summaries based on their activities.

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Full Answer

Many forensic accountants are employed by public accounting firms, consulting firms, insurance companies, legal firms, financial organizations or government offices. Many of these industries must adhere to regulatory guidelines or strict financial requirements. Forensic accountants help ensure public reports are accurate, financial data is managed, and potential risks are mitigated.

In addition to accounting and investigative skills, forensic accountants need a strong understanding of economic theory, auditing standards, electronic discovery and business information. Within a specific organization, forensic accountants must also understand internal financial reporting procedures and tools, accounting systems and litigation processes or procedures.

Forensic accountants must be certified in order to work in this field. While certifications vary depending upon the country, each country has an appropriate designation for qualified forensic accountants. In the United States, a forensic accountant holds both the Certified Public Accountant and the Certified in Financial Forensics credentials. The process of acquiring certification requires an applicant to demonstrate knowledge and competence across a variety of areas, including litigation and standard business processes.

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