The processes used to determine and prove financial damages or proper valuations are often very delicate and highly complicated. Further, it often takes more than just an accountant to uncover inaccuracies or irregularities in financial data, interpret their impact, and then convince decision makers of such findings. That is why it is critical to employ someone who is experienced in the handling of these matters prior to litigation at any level.
Employing the services of an expert forensic accountant is often the key to not only uncovering accounting problems or other financial issues, but also presenting those findings in a clear and understandable manner to those who are not necessarily versed in financial matters.
Traditional Accountant vs. Forensic Accountant
Generally, a traditional accountant is an expert in auditing, accounting, taxation, or reporting methods. A forensic accountant, however, generally has expertise in all of these areas as well as finance, economics, law, and investigative techniques and must not only possess such knowledge but also know how to gather and analyze evidential matter and interpret and communicate findings. The skill sets of traditional accountants do not always transition well into forensic services where strong analytical thinking, as well as oral and written communication skills are essential.
Just as the CPA designation is used to verify an accountant’s proficiency in accounting methods, credentials such as the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation are used to verify an accountant’s proficiency in the analysis of records where fraud or other financial misconduct might be involved. Furthermore, part of obtaining the CFF credential is the necessary demonstration of a candidate’s proven experience in forensic accounting matters, communication skills, credibility, foresight, courtroom savvy, and investigative intuitiveness.
It is also important to remember, when looking for a reliable forensic accountant, that true expertise goes far beyond certifiable competence. There is no substitute for tested character and proven experience. Beyond the professional credentials, it takes a reputation of high integrity, dependability, and professional will.
Further, it is critically important that the forensic accountant you choose has the time and resources to be completely committed to the project. Often, forensic accountants accept a project without fully understanding the scope of the work involved and whether their office can handle such a workload. A fully committed forensic accountant has taken the time on the front-end to understand the work involved both now as well as down the road. You deserve full assurance that, through each step, your forensic accountant is thoroughly briefed and 100% prepared to communicate and defend his or her findings.
It is also important that the forensic accountant you choose be brought into the case in the early stages of the investigative process in order to be adequately familiar with the history of the case and to structure a solid strategy for moving forward.
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