In many cases, the forensic accountant will be trying to elicit information from others within the organization to discover where fraud may have been perpetrated, so understanding the business ethical environment is crucial. Lawyers and law firms involved in criminal or civil litigation sometimes require forensic accountants’ expertise. In the legal arena, financial investigators can work on either side of a criminal or civil case. Common tasks include determining financial damages, assessing the value of disputed assets, and finding evidence of financial wrongdoing. Working close together with law enforcement agencies, a forensic accountant specializes in investigating potential fraud and financial crimes.

Details about forensic accounting certifications are available in the step-by-step section below. While the BLS does not differentiate the salaries of accountants and forensic accountants, data from (2023) shows that forensic accountants earn average annual salaries of $82,375 based on three self-reported salaries. There are many types of fraud, from employee embezzlement to insurance fraud.

3) CFF® (Certified in Financial Forensics) This credential is for CPAs who specialize in forensic accounting. It is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in forensic accounting through their knowledge, skills, and experience. During high-value transactions like how to hire a forensic accountant mergers and acquisitions, one company may conduct an independent review of financial records before acquiring another company. Forensic accountants sometimes carry out these reviews on their clients’ behalf. Forensic accountants earn a median yearly salary is $66,833 a year in the US.

  1. Forensic accountants can specialize in a variety of industries, therefore, finding the right person will take some research.
  2. Business owners, CFO’s, controllers, insurance companies, a spouse in a divorce, board of directors, banks, lawyers and the government may all choose to hire or staff professionals in forensic accounting.
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  4. To graduate, students must complete a capstone requirement to evaluate, analyze, and problem-solve a real-world problem in the discipline of forensic accounting.

What you wouldn’t do is get an accountant who is not familiar with this aspect of the law. Thomas J Catalano is a CFP and Registered Investment Adviser with the state of South Carolina, where he launched his own financial advisory firm in 2018. Thomas’ experience gives him expertise in a variety of areas including investments, retirement, insurance, and financial planning. The accounting expertise that I gained in the early part of my career provided a solid basis for my current role in forensics, where accounting and investigative techniques are intertwined. Forensic accountants in these roles work to uncover evidence of criminal activity. They also investigate national security threats by tracing the sources of financial support for criminal or terrorist groups.

There are many considerations for the qualities, experience and background of the forensic accountant who may be hired. Forensic accounting consultants are trained to look at financial records with a critical eye and to identify any irregularities that might indicate criminal activity. They also have the skills and knowledge necessary to testify in court if their findings are used as evidence in a criminal trial. Because of the specialized nature of their work, forensic accounting experts usually charge higher rates than traditional accountants. The results may be used in legal proceedings to explain the nature of a financial crime and to determine the impact and/or recovery of their discoveries. In a divorce case, forensic accounting is used to calculate the value of assets so that they are split equitably between married couples.

Personal Skills

You know your business, revenue, payroll, taxation status, and expenses so well that you would notice if there was a discrepancy in your books. You could be risking assets that are due to you, which could help put you on stronger financial footing as you enter your next chapter. Hello Divorce offers the most comprehensive online collection of divorce knowledge and resources. Our team is passionate about providing accurate, free, and helpful content to all. Hourly mediation, financial help & more can be added to your divorce plan at any time! You also have to stay on top of the financial industry and markets to know how changes, such as new or updated regulatory compliance mandates, can affect the finances of a company or individual.

What should people know about a forensic accountant career?

It sounds appropriate that a forensic accountant should be ethical, and ethics is considered to be part of the desired and expected skill set. Prerequisite knowledge would include a review of general business ethics, and an awareness of their own personal code of ethics as it pertains to this specialization. Forensic accountants who are CFEs are required to take continuing professional education (CPE) credits, including ethics as a topic for those courses being offered. Aside from their own code of ethics, it is important to understand an entity’s culture, and the ethical environment present when performing an investigation or setting up fraud deterrents.

Signs You Need to Hire a Forensic Accountant

Professional experience is a huge differentiator when it comes to hireability and salary expectations for forensic accountants. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) provides the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential. While there are some bachelor’s programs in forensic accounting, pursuing a degree in a related discipline such as accounting, business, or finance may be advisable. Forensic accountants may also choose to pursue a professional credential such as the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential to further their career prospects.

How Much Does a Forensic Accountant Cost?

In pursuing my career as a forensic accountant, I was interested in stepping away from just the numbers and analyzing the facts and circumstances surrounding the overall transaction. In other cases, clients seek the advice of forensic specialists for internal reasons. They might also want advice on navigating a regulatory inquiry into their activities. Because of the unique blend of education, skills and personality required, their expertise is relied upon in a wide variety of situations. Explore the Franklin University Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting to see how our flexible, online curriculum can give you job-ready skills—without taking time out from your career. Threat financing is the most violent form of financial crime, defined as the funding of groups or individuals who pose a threat to domestic, international, and regional security; the term is still new, and has nuanced and evolving applications.

Average forensic accountant salary by company

However, some forensic accountants are not accustomed to giving evidence. For example, they might work on criminal cases where forensic findings usually get argued out of court. Forensic accountants analyze, interpret, and summarize complex financial data. They compile financial evidence, develop computer applications to manage the information collected, and communicate their findings in the form of reports or presentations.

Businesses interested in challenging and overcoming the status quo consistently seek opportunities to grow, optimize, and improve. Performing a fraud risk assessment, or internal controls review is an area of growth. One red flag that should catch your attention is discord among your decision-making team. If your members, managers, partners, shareholders, board members, etc. are disputing over rights to compensation or benefits, you should pursue the services of a forensic accountant. On an annual basis, companies lose an estimated $600 billion to fraud in the United States alone.

Your accountant explores the complexities of the case and later presents the facts in court. Sadly, fraud is a significant reality faced by many companies, regardless of the size of the entity. Many small-to-medium-sized business owners think they are not in danger of being affected by fraud because they know their staff and have smaller payrolls. However, smaller businesses and non-profits are actually more likely to become the victims of fraud because they have that higher level of trust and are less likely to incur a tax audit that would reveal instability. At trial, the forensic accountant prepared flowcharts for each of the bank and investment accounts that clearly showed the flow of funds from the elderly woman’s accounts into the Respondent’s accounts, even after she passed away.