Whenever I hear the word forensic, I think of NCIS (I particularly like the one with Gibbs and Abby). It is natural then to assume that forensic accounting follows the same path, using accounting skills to unearth fraud.
Forensic accounting is not all about investigating crime even though that is one application of it. Forensic just means that the reports produced will be suitable for legal or court processes.
Forensic accounting involves collecting, analysing data and producing reports. A forensic accountant must be someone who pays meticulous attention to detail. They must not only have excellent numeracy skills but must also have strong insight into how businesses operate. IT skills will be required so as to be able to navigate through the information gathered or provided.
Forensic Accountants are often required to provide evidence in court, this means that legal understanding is an advantage. Good communication skills are not optional as the people they will be presenting to will not be forensic accountants.
To summarise, a good list of skills for this field is as follows:
1. Analytical mind
2. Business Insight
3. Oral and written communication
4. IT skills
5. Attention to detail
6. Legal knowledge
Fields of application:
· Valuations of businesses and other assets
· Verification of accounts before they are published
· Tax Verifications
· Financial Fraud cases
· Insurance Claims Valuations
There are Forensic degrees and diplomas available locally for this field. In addition, certifications
Possible employers include law enforcement agencies, accounting firms, banks, insurance organisations and Law firms.
Forensic accountants are found in both public and private sectors and with the increase in white collar crime, the need for this skill will continue to rise. As Zimbabweans we have seen a lot of these types of crimes in the papers in the recent years. Mitigating this risk will mean those who handle various types of funds will need the services of forensic accountants more and more.