Forensic accounting uses a combination of accounting, auditing, and investigative skills. This is a specialty within the accounting field that many find interesting. The word forensic means that something is related to or used in the courts, or for public discussion and debate. Therefore, forensic accounting is an accounting analysis that is suitable for use in court, and that will be the starting point for discussion, debate, and dispute resolution.
Both litigation support and investigative accounting are part of forensic accounting. Forensic accountants use their accounting, auditing, and investigative skills during the conduct of an investigation. It is very important that the forensic accountant is able to respond immediately, and also to be able to clearly communicate financial information in the courtroom.
Forensic accountants are hired to analyze, interpret, summarize, and present complicated financial and business related matters clearly, and properly supported by facts. They may be working in public practice, or be hired by insurance companies, police departments, government agencies, banks, or other entities. Some of the duties of forensic accountants include investigating and analyzing financial data as evidence, and the development of computer applications to help with the analysis and presentation of the financial data. They must also convey their findings using reports, exhibits, and collections of documents. Forensic accountants also help in legal proceedings, which can include testifying in court as an expert witness, as well as bringing visual aids they have prepared to support the evidence.
The forensic accountant needs to have a good familiarity with legal procedures and legal concepts. Another important trait in a forensic accountant is the ability to see substance over form when evaluating an issue. Many different types of investigations are assigned to forensic accountants. They may be hired to resolve a dispute between partners and shareholders in regard to the compensation and benefits each receives. The forensic accountant would perform a detailed analysis using several years of accounting records to quantify the issue.
Another assignment a forensic accountant might take on would be to quantify the economic loss that is the result of an automobile accident. This might be done in regard to a personal injury claim. A similar analysis could be done for medical malpractice or wrongful termination.
Forensic accountants often have received special training in alternative dispute resolution. This training enables them to provide mediation and arbitration services. A forensic accountant may get involved in a matrimonial dispute. These normally involve tracing, locating, and valuing assets. There are several other types of cases that forensic accountant could be involved in.
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