If you want to improve your client volume during slow months, put your downtime to good use by obtaining credentials in the field of forensic accounting. This expanding field offers a great career path if you want to add to your knowledge and skills, make important contacts, and give your firm a boost during seasonal slowdowns. The rise of the global economy and e-commerce presents numerous opportunities to cultivate important business contacts beyond your local area. Once confined to large companies and anti-crime forces, forensic accountants now have more versatility than ever when it comes to where they establish and how they focus their businesses.
What Is Forensic Accounting?
Forensic accounting is a specialized area of accounting that mainly deals with tracking money trails involved in crimes or litigation. Like a river running through a landscape, a money trail often provides the foundation of a criminal enterprise. As a forensic accountant, you’re typically working on financial crimes involving fraud, theft, embezzlement, money laundering, and racketeering, though you may choose to focus on newer crimes such as identity theft and data skimming. You’re free to work for large corporations, government entities, or as an independent private consultant with boutique accounting firms. Many forensic accountants dedicate their entire firm to the practice, while some 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 and experience requirements if they exist in your area, then 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 your required courses online. If you prefer classroom studies, you can choose from an array of colleges and universities that 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, which consists of 10 graduate courses with topics such as advanced forensic accounting and investigation, fraud detection, prevention, and response.
Benefits of Earning CFF Designation Through CPA/AICPA Canada
If you wish to become a certified forensic accountant and already hold the Chartered Public Accountant (CPA) designation, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) offers the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential in conjunction with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Earning the CFF designation though CPA Canada offers many advantages designed to ensure successfully expanding into this area, including:
- 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 CPA Canada 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 by highlighting opportunities for growth and success, and by pointing out potential pitfalls along the way so you can better identify and avoid them. The credential also lets you list your practice in the CFF journal where other professionals and potential clients can locate you. Additionally, it provides you with a number of marketing tools that carry the prestige of the Canada CPA Society.
While you might originally take up forensic accounting so you have plenty to do after tax time each year, you may find that more and more of your practice shifts to this burgeoning field as the years pass. Due to the potential growth within the sector, forensic accounting can help grow your practice and support your long-term success. In the meantime, you can collaborate with clients, stay on track, and grow your firm with QuickBooks Online Accountant. Sign up for free.