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What is Forensic Accounting?

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Forensic Accounting 101: An Introductory Guide

Collectively, the efforts of forensic accountants save businesses and non-profit organisations worldwide incalculable sums of money each year.

But what is it that the forensic accountant does to safeguard the modern business from financial loss?  More importantly, what kinds of career opportunities are open to forensic accountants at home and abroad?

What is Forensic Accounting? 

For anyone looking to define forensic accounting as concisely as possible, the Oxford English dictionary provides the following definition:

“The use of accounting skills to investigate fraud or embezzlement and to analyse financial information for use in legal proceedings.”

In practice, however, the true forensic accounting meaning goes much further than this.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the global business community accumulates annual losses of more than $1 trillion as a result of financial fraud.  In an era of escalating white-collar crime, the importance of taking a proactive stance against financial fraud has never been greater.

This is where the value and importance of forensic accountancy comes into the equation. For the forensic accountant, the challenge lies in creating and implementing wide-reaching frameworks that both detect and prevent financial fraud on a variety of levels.

What Does a Forensic Accountant Do?

Specific duties and responsibilities vary from one business to the next, along with the area of forensics the accountant in question specialises in.  In all instances, however, forensic accountancy goes beyond the realms of everyday business accountancy.

An in-depth knowledge of appropriate business and financial law is essential, as is a good grasp of criminal psychology, corporate taxation, the growing threat posed by cybercriminals.

Some of the typical duties that fall within the field of forensic accountancy include the following:

  • Investigations of suspected fraudulent activity
  • Detection and prevention of financial fraud
  • Identification of discrepancies and errors
  • Evidence gathering and report preparation
  • Presentation of findings and suggestions
  • Court appearances to support criminal cases

The forensic accountant is the knowledgeable, impartial and experienced individual at the centre of an organisation’s fraud detection and prevention protocols. Whether working directly for the business or providing services on a contractual basis, forensic accountants are considered invaluable assets in an era of unprecedented financial fraud.

Career Opportunities in Forensic Accountancy

For qualified and capable forensic accountants, career opportunities are wide open.  Many established organisations worldwide now hire extensive in-house teams of fraud detection and prevention experts, in order to provide them with the 24/7 protection they need. Others work with third-party forensic accountancy consultants and specialist fraud prevention firms, as and when required.

To become a talented forensic accountant is to open the door to a wide variety of diverse and dynamic career pasts. Some pursue high profile positions with established organisations, while others prefer to offer their services on a freelance basis.  Anyone interested in the opportunity to become their own boss and go into business solo could find forensic accountancy an ideal field to consider.

Becoming a Forensic Accountant

Irrespective of knowledge and experience to date, targeted education holds the key to a successful career as a forensic accountant. Only by studying the profession and its functions at an advanced level is it possible to provide the wide-reaching coverage businesses need to protect themselves from all possible attacks.

After studying for a recognised certificate or diploma, candidates may also consider applying for Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants (ICFA) membership to enhance their professional profile.

At Brentwood Open Learning College, we offer an extensive range of forensic accountancy courses of unbeatable quality and value for money. Enjoy the freedom to study in your own time and at a pace that suits your lifestyle, with no deadlines or time restrictions imposed.

Check out our complete range of Forensic Accounting Courses Online, or contact a member of our admissions team anytime for more information.

Brentwood Open Learning College offers some free certificate courses . Explore now on our website.