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Complementary Skills For The Forensic Accountant
If you are one of the many people currently having to work or study from home, then you may want to take advantage of this time to upskill in your field of study. And due to social distancing measures, the best way to do this is through online distance education.
Forensic accounting is a specialised area of accounting that can be useful for anyone already within the accounting field. It can also be an exciting career prospect for anyone looking for a whole new career change.
In the study of forensic accounting, accountants are required to use their analytical abilities and legal knowledge to assist in preparing financial evidence for Court. This evidence can then be used to solve crimes relating to money laundering, tax fraud, embezzlement, money theft, and more.
Alongside basic accountancy, some additional skills are essential to the successful practice of forensic accounting. These skills will allow anyone to practice accounting to progress into the crime & private investigation field.
6 Additional skills needed in forensic accounting
- Providing court evidence
- Investigative skills
- Organisational skills
- Personal conduct
Forensic accountants need to be well-versed in both accounting and law to investigate financial crime. Forensic accounting combines both detective work and financial knowledge, and to be successful; you also need to carry the following skills.
1. Providing court evidence
Court appearances are a fundamental part of forensic accounting. The accountant must be able to give evidence in Court and be able to explain their evidence-gathering to the judge/jury.
To be competent in the forensic accounting field, strong written and oral communication skills in Court are paramount. Since a forensic accountant provides evidence to a 12-person jury, they must be evident and concise when delivering their report.
Litigation usually involves large volumes of evidence that is often presented in a manner that makes it hard for the jury or Court to comprehend. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to present facts & figures in a way that’s easy to understand.
It can be daunting to have to stand before a court and be cross-examined. Anyone pursuing forensic accounting should learn how to calmly and confidently deliver a strong argument if they want to benefit their career in this field.
2. Investigative skills
Forensic accountants assist in investigations by examining tax, bank, and business records, aiming to look for any irregularities that may assist in criminal investigation cases. Forensic accountants also work alongside police officers to help assist in finding documents relevant to a specific case. To benefit their investigative skills, people pursuing forensic accounting should undertake a course in private investigation. Doing so will teach crucial investigative skills, including locating & gathering evidence, report writing and statement taking, and searching public records to obtain crucial information.
3. Organisational skills
A forensic accountant needs to be highly competent in planning and organisation since financial management and auditing is one of the main roles they perform. The process of detecting financial irregularities and interpreting number patterns in fraud cases also calls for a high level of attention to detail.
Documenting these findings in an organised manner makes it easier for investigators and the Court to assess information when needed. Forensic accountants cannot afford to overlook these details since they can be crucial in determining the outcome of a case.
Since a lot of the role involves investigating information, forensic accountants also need to understand critical information-gathering skills. This includes interviewing people. Interview skills are useful since in many cases, the forensic accountant will be talking to witnesses or suspects who are under a great degree of stress.
Having the ability to interview someone diplomatically can help put an individual at ease and allow them to provide useful information. Interviewing skills also involve the crucial skill of being a good listener. A forensic accountant must be able to detect when a person is not truthful or if they need some coaxing to divulge any necessary information that can help a case.
5. Personal conduct
Forensic accountants encompass many different skills within their roles, including that of personal conduct. Working alongside both law enforcement personnel and the general public, forensic accountants are expected to respect their reputation.
They must know and adhere to the correct protocols and procedures when dealing with all matters of a case. Ethical conduct is a vital skill-set to possess, and demonstrating a genuine personal commitment to the responsibilities of the job will take a forensic accountant’s success further.
6. Communication skills
Forensic accountants need to demonstrate both oral and written communication skills. They must be able to communicate complex information to clients, judges, juries, law enforcement officers, and fellow team members. Strong communication skills help forensic accountants to converse with all parties clearly and honestly. Also, they must be able to document their findings in written form. A well-written forensic report can be a vital tool in litigation.
Forensic accounting draws on both hard and soft skills, with a great emphasis on interpersonal communication and information-gathering. Students who can possess the above skills in addition to their accounting or legal background are likely to make good forensic accountants. Those who are seeking a new job or career change can also discover the benefits of becoming a forensic accountant and may wish to explore the above skills and training needed to accomplish this.
About the author
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in a variety of publications such as Forbes, Tech In Asia and The Next Web. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.
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