Important Skills For a Forensic Accountant
- Detail-Oriented Approach
- Interviewing Skills
- Analytical Skills
- Communication Skills
- Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
Forensic accounting skills enable an accountant to gather evidence of fraud and other financial crimes and present it clearly, often in a courtroom. Forensic accountants need to be well-versed in both accounting and law in order to determine whether a financial crime has occurred. The following skills are all necessary to perform successfully as a forensic accountant.
Related Resource: Top 15 Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting
1. Detail-Oriented Approach
Like all types of accountants, forensic accountants must be detailed-oriented. The process of detecting financial irregularities and noting small discrepancies that can indicate a larger pattern of fraud requires careful focus and attention. Forensic accountants spend a lot of time looking at and interpreting numbers. Furthermore, they also need to carefully document their investigation in an organized fashion.
2. Interviewing Skills
The work of a forensic accountant is not limited to pouring over documents. They may also gather evidence or seek to better understand a situation by interviewing people. In some cases, these people may be under a significant amount of stress, and a good forensic accountant can put them at ease and draw out necessary information. Forensic accountants also need to be able to detect when a person is not being truthful and when they need to push for more information. Good listening skills are an important part of good overall interviewing skills that forensic accountants should also have.
3. Analytical Skills
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, analytical skills are important for all accountants. In the case of a forensic accountant, analytical skills are necessary throughout the process of reviewing documents and numbers and while interviewing people. The forensic accountant would then use those analytical skills to construct a picture of what kind of financial crime may have taken place in order to present that evidence to others. Sometimes, forensic accountants work on divorce cases, and that may involve analyzing financial documents to determine whether a person is attempting to hide assets.
4. Communication Skills
Forensic accountants need communication skills for more than just interviewing people. They need to be able to clearly communicate their conclusions in both oral and written forms. They may work closely with law enforcement or court officials. Some forensic accountants act as expert witnesses, and this means they must have the ability to summarize complex and sometimes technical ideas for a jury and clearly explain their bearing on the overall case. Strong writing and speaking skills are critical for a forensic accountant.
5. Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
It is important for people in forensic accounting to be adaptable and solve problems effectively. The course of an investigation may change quickly based on new information or some other factor. A forensic accountant needs to have the creativity to imagine various scenarios and possibilities and consider whether they are consistent with the evidence.
Some people may think of accounting jobs as involving people working with numbers and largely alone, but working as a forensic accountant is far from a solitary position. Combining the attention to detail of traditional accounting jobs with strong people skills, forensic accounting is a field that can offer an interesting and challenging future.