Forensic accounting is a specialized area in the accounting industry that primarily deals with financial crimes and litigation. While an internal auditor reviews policies, procedures and transactions that can lead to a crime involving money, a forensic accountant tracks individual cases and pursues questionable transactions from their origins to final destinations.
Forensic accountants traditionally pursued financial crimes such as theft, embezzlement, money laundering and racketeering and transactions involving kickbacks, but advancements in technology and electronic currency have opened the door to entirely new types of crimes, and the field is expanding. The forensic accountant of today must investigate additional crimes such as data skimming, security breaches and cybertheft.
Becoming a certified forensic accountant generally involves satisfying educational and work experience requirements. Some colleges and universities offer graduate or postgraduate degree programs in forensic accounting, such as the two-year Master of Forensic Accounting (MFAcc) degree program offered by the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Some accounting organizations offer certificate programs, and Chartered Public Accountants Canada offers an intensive [Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential program]((https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/career-and-professional-development/courses/core-areas/forensic-and-investigative-accounting/certified-in-financial-forensics-cff-credential) that requires a combination of coursework and work experience to complete. Many accountants and CPAs get involved in forensic accountant to keep current in their field, learn new skills, and attract new clients to help get them through seasonal slowdowns. For some, it becomes the primary focus of their practice.
After gaining their certification or degree, many forensic accountants go to work for large companies that keep one or more on staff, and some go to work for the government at either the commonwealth or the provincial level. As of 2017, the average annual salary for a government-employed forensic accountant was between $95,000 to $103,000. As the field expands with the increase in cybercrimes, forensic accounting offers terrific growth opportunities to current and future accountants.