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How to Become a Forensic Accountant

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Do you have outstanding numeracy skills and flawless attention to detail? Are you naturally inquisitive and unable to quit, regardless of the challenge? Are you interested in a career committed to detecting and preventing financial fraud? If so, you could be a prime candidate for a career in forensic accounting.

What Do Forensic Accountants Do?

Forensic accountancy is a specialist field which focuses on analytical and investigative processes, generally in relation to corporate finances. It is the job of the forensic accountant to not only identify and bring to light any evidence of fraudulent activity, but also to work with the business to help minimise and prevent fraud in general.

More often than not, forensic accountants work as part of much larger and wider fraud-prevention teams. Which in turn means that along with being extremely self-disciplined and able to work alone, the ability to work as a core team player is also of critical importance. The day to day duties of professional forensic accountants vary significantly, though typical tasks may involve the following:

  • Collating and analysing financial data
  • Identifying patterns and discrepancies that may indicate fraud
  • Preparing evidence and reports
  • Presenting findings and evidence to the relevant parties
  • Attending court proceedings as an expert witness
  • Analysing financial data to identify possible fraud-prevention methods
  • Working as part of a larger fraud-prevention team 

Am I Right For the Job?

The two most important characteristics a candidate needs to succeed in forensic accounting are those of outstanding numeracy and flawless attention to detail. This is the kind of specialism in which a single misplaced decimal point can spell the difference between efficient financial operations and criminal fraud. It may often be up to you and you alone to carry out important investigative work, meaning your judgment and commitment to the task must be no less than flawless.

Just a few of the skills and character traits you will need to work in this high-pressure area include:

  • Relentless commitment and tenacity
  • Flawless attention to detail
  • A naturally inquisitive nature
  • The ability to work with comprehensive neutrality
  • Outstanding numeracy skills
  • Plenty of patience and self-motivation
  • The ability to communicate complicated information in a simplified manner
  • Total reliability, honesty and dependability

Ongoing Progression

Most forensic accountants start off in junior or assistant positions, with salaries in the region of £22,000. However, with sufficient experience and expertise, it is perfectly possible to earn more than £50,000. A variety of career options exist, including those with registered forensic accountancy firms, positions with larger businesses or setting up solo as a freelancer.

Professional Lifestyle

The lifestyle of the forensic accountant is dictated by the specific project they are working on at the time. It is normal for a forensic accountant to work extended hours, overnight, through weekends and at any other time required, should an investigation demand immediate and intensive work. As such, flexibility is an absolute must to get by in this profession.

“What really took me by surprise was how quickly things can change from one day to the next. It can be pretty intense – one minute you’re preparing reports for a long-term financial security plan, the next you’re being asked to analyse a decade’s worth of financial reports ahead of a high-profile court appearance in the morning. Suffice to say, you have to be ready for anything, but there’s never a dull moment!” – Jacob Michaels, Junior Forensic Accountant

Taking the Next Step

While it is technically possible to become a forensic accountant with no specific educational background, a recognised qualification is generally seen as a must. Whether looking to work for an established business or start your own company from scratch, you will find a strong theoretical foundation extremely helpful.

Here at Brentwood Open Learning College, we are proud to offer the market’s highest-quality distance learning opportunities at a variety of levels, including:

Diploma in Forensic Accounting (Level 4)

Choose our highest-level Forensic Accounting Diploma, for the best possible start on your new career journey. 

Certificate in Forensic Accounting (Level 3)

We also offer a premium quality intermediate Forensic Accountancy Certificate, which can be just the ticket for picking up the basics and prepping yourself for a future career.