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Who Are Forensic Accountants?
“Everyone thinks forensic accounting is a brand new thing, but it was actually started in 1824,” explained Dr. Cindy Greenman, associate professor of Accounting at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “The real need for this profession came in the 20th century with huge financial frauds, like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco International.”
It was then that companies began disclosing billions of dollars lost from fraud. This type of “white collar crime” is a growing problem with an estimated trillion dollars in losses every year, according to a 2017 Crowe Clark Whitehill report. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports that employees throughout organizations commit fraud, from entry level to the executive suite.
With awareness growing, forensic accounting has turned into a highly sought after occupation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 13% job growth through 2022 for accountants and auditors. Additionally, the organization estimates that the median salary for financial examiners was $81,690 in 2017. The ACFE estimates that Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) earn 31% more than their non-certified counterparts.
“Forensic accountants are hired by lawyers, courts, banks, police, government entities and private companies,” explained Dr. Greenman. “Everyone wants a forensic accountant on their team.”
Depending on the assignment, forensic accountants play an important role in private audits, criminal investigations and matters of national security. They identify and examine suspicious activity, uncover potential new leads for an investigation, collaborate with colleagues and other organizations to explore complex financial issues, and communicate concerns about financial crimes.
Is Forensic Accounting for You?
Forensic accounting is a blend of accounting, investigative, and law classes. Many forensic accountants are hired in an anti-crime capacity, which entails specific qualities that contribute to success. According to Dr. Greenman, individuals with the following attributes are ideal:
Good at breaking problems into smaller parts
Good at puzzles and putting things together
Intuitive and logical
High morals, …