Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Survival of the Analytically Fit: The DNA of an Effective Forensic Accountant

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Survival of the Analytically Fit: The DNA of an Effective Forensic Accountant

Article excerpt

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If attorneys could engineer the perfect forensic accountant, 78% of them would choose an accountant with strong analytical abilities. In a 2009 survey commissioned by the AICPA, after analytical skills, attorneys chose, in descending order, the abilities to be detail-oriented, ethical, responsive and insightful as the remaining top five essential traits for forensic accountants.

CPAs look for a slightly different profile. Like attorneys, CPAs ranked analytical abilities as the No. 1 desired trait for forensic accountants. But they rounded out the top five with the abilities to be inquisitive, detail-oriented, ethical and skeptical.

The survey report, Characteristics and Skills of the Forensic Accountant, identifies perceptions of the core skills needed to be an ideal forensic accountant and how to build these skills, as well as common pitfalls that hinder how effectively forensic accountants work. The online survey was directed to: attorneys who employ the services of forensic accountants; CPAs who are primarily working as forensic accountants; and accounting and auditing professors. Responses were received from 126 attorneys, 603 CPAs and 50 professors.

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When asked to rank the areas of specialty needed for forensic accounting services, almost 90% of attorneys indicated they needed forensic accountants most frequently in cases involving financial statements, followed closely by economic damages and fraud. CPAs said the largest share of their forensic accounting work involved fraud work, only slightly edging economic damages, followed closely by valuations. …

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