When thinking about an accounting firm, many usually think of one service: Taxes. While that is indeed part of the job, our functions can entail more than you think. Accountants help with a range of services, and one of the least recognized topics pertains to the world of forensics. Yes, you heard us, forensic accounting is indeed a thing, and it exists in more than just your favorite crime TV show.
So what does a forensic accountant do, exactly? Here are three core functions:
When investigators call upon a forensic accountant, it’s in order to utilize their expertise in the space. Much like an expert witness in other fields, this position is tasked with taking complex financial documents, and scouring them for details which may help the investigation. Some specifics to look out for include proof of identity fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Forensic accountants often excel in both the criminal and civil courts systems because of their unique qualifications when it comes to reading and interpreting financial documents. They are usually called to take difficult to understand concepts, and communicate them in terms that are easier to understand for the general public. Testimony has a key role with the opinions of majors players in the court, as the way the data is presented could sway a decision from one side to the other.
Another core function for forensic accountants is actually one that most CPAs do every day: Auditing. Before presenting their cases in court, lawyers can enlist the services of a professional to conduct an audit on potential financial evidence. This is usually done as a preventative measure to help ensure that the evidence is sound before submitting it as part of their argument. Without the critical knowledge brought to the table by this position, defendants and prosecutors could be “flying blind” when arguing their cases.
Entering the accounting field is a lot more than filing taxes. It opens up the door to a multitude of possibilities, with some of them having the ability to really affect change. We hope this overview gave you a good first look into the responsibilities of a forensic accountant. It is one of the many services offered here at Hall & Company.