Changing Face of Forensic Accounting

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBRA HALCROW

WHEN dinner party conversation turns to the topic of professions, and I say that I'm a forensic accountant, a frequent response is "that sounds like CSI and dead bodies".

Strangely enough, one of my first assignments as a forensic accountant did involve an investigation into the finances of a murder victim, but the reality is that my job normally only involved finance. However, in recent years there has been a rapid increase in the variety of situations that involve forensic accountants, with the focus shifting from the financial aspects of disputes and investigations. Now it is recognised that the analytical approach and attention to detail that are applied by forensic accountants are crucial in understanding many business challenges.

Forensic accountants are now playing a central role in many non-financial investigations. For example, recent cases involving PwC's Forensic Services team include considering the quality of care and the mortality rates being recorded by hospital performance data, and the leakage rates recorded by a water company. Forensic accountants' interviewing skills and ability to get to the bottom of complex problems, and to identify practical solutions, can be used to resolve many issues that companies are facing today.

Developments in IT have made the use of experts in forensic technology essential, and PwC set up a forensic technology lab in the Northern region in 2009 to meet this need. Our team also includes people with engineering backgrounds who can identify the underlying causes of delays to construction projects and IT system implementations, with our finance specialists looking at the cost consequences of these delays. …