If you’re tired of letting your slow seasons get you down, put that time to good use by obtaining credentials in the expanding field of forensic accounting. This emerging field is a great career path if you want to add to your knowledge and skills, make important contacts, and give your business a boost to overcome seasonal slowdowns. The rise of the global economy and e-commerce presents tremendous opportunities to cultivate business contacts beyond your local neighborhood. Once confined to large companies and government anti-crime forces, forensic accountants have more opportunities than ever to establish where and when they want to work, and whether to make forensic accounting the primary or secondary focus of their practices. The growth in e-learning also affords you the flexibility to obtain your degree at your convenience.
What Is Forensic Accounting?
Forensic accounting is a specialized area of accounting that often deals with tracking money trails involved in crimes or litigation. Like a river running through a landscape, a money trail is often at the foundation of any crime. Forensic accountants typically work on crimes involving fraud, theft, embezzling, money laundering, and racketeering, as well as newer crimes such as identity theft and data skimming. They may work for large corporations, government entities, or as independent private consultants, and may dedicate their practice to this field or use it to supplement the seasonal lows of the accounting year.
Becoming a Forensic Accountant
Becoming a forensic accountant is a relatively straightforward matter. You simply fulfill educational requirements and experience requirements if they exist, and obtain the certification from an accredited learning institution. Many institutions of higher learning offer a degree or certification in forensic accounting. In some cases, you can take some or all of your required courses online. If you prefer classroom studies, many colleges and universities offer post-graduate degrees in forensic accounting. For instance, the University of Toronto at Mississauga offers a two-year Master of Forensic Accounting (MFAcc) degree program that consists of 10 graduate courses with topics such as advanced forensic accounting and investigation, fraud detection, prevention, and response.
If you are interested in becoming a certified forensic accountant and already hold the Chartered Public Accountant designation, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), in conjunction with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), offers the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential that offers many advantages. It tells the world you have demonstrated proficiency in the fundamental and specialized forensic accounting skills required for this designation, and you meet the rigorous educational, professional, and ethical standards of this prestigious institution.
Benefits of Earning CFF Designation Through Canada CPA/AICPA
Earning the CFF designation though the Canada CPA organization offers many advantages designed to ensure successfully expanding into this area. These benefits include:
- Acknowledging and establishing you as a premier forensic accounting professional
- Demonstrating your commitment to continuous improvement and professional development and education
- Providing membership access to the AICPA forensic and valuation services section
- Including you in a community of CPA financial forensic professionals
- Increasing opportunities for referrals from other practitioners, strategic partners, lawyers, and clients
Perhaps one of the most valuable tools provided by the Canada CPA CFF certification is access to a local mentor to advise you, share experiences, and encourage you to grow. A mentor can help guide you along your educational and professional path and point out potential pitfalls, as well as opportunities for growth and success.
You also obtain a listing in the CFF journal where other CFFs and potential clients can locate you, along with a number of marketing tools that carry the prestige of the Canada CPA Society. Forensic accounting can soon become the primary focus of your business or simply a side specialty to get you through slow periods.