What is a Forensic Accountant

Accountancy is an incredibly broad discipline, and there are many different types of accountants each with unique skill sets. From auditing and bookkeeping right through to tax and management accounting, it can be difficult to understand which type of accountant is right for you.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at forensic accountants, what they do and how they can help you. 

What is a Forensic Accountant?

Forensic accountants are essentially financial detectives. Just as a forensic scientist uses scientific tests to solve crimes, forensic accountants use accounting techniques and their many years’ experience to analyse and interpret financial transactions/evidence.

A forensic accountant undertakes financial investigations and analysis for a wide variety of situations to provide expert opinion on financial matters whether that be in legal cases leading to court (civil or criminal), or to interested parties in situations not involving the courts e.g. internal investigations, regulatory authority enquiries/reviews.

What Does a Forensic Accountant Do?

Forensic accountants adopt an unbiased, independent, logical and analytical approach to understanding and analysing often large amounts of financial evidence covering extended periods of time. The sort of situations they assist in are wide ranging, including:

  • where a partner has been hiding assets during divorce proceedings
  • an employee stealing from a business
  • business disputes in relation to breaches of contract and the quantification of losses
  • estimating the lost earnings/pension in a personal injury case
  • determining the extent to which someone has committed fraud
  • evaluating allegations of money laundering or the proceeds of crime
  • professional negligence by accountants / auditors / other financial advisors

How Forensic Accountants Are Hired

Whilst some forensic accountants work in-house for large companies, most forensic accountants work in practice and are hired privately to work on specific cases, such as matrimonial disputes, proceeds of crime, shareholder and partnership disputes, employee fraud, and personal injury claims.

Regardless of the reason you may need a forensic accountant, it is best to instruct a forensic accountant as early as possible. By delaying, you are missing the opportunity to take advantage of the skills and experience your forensic accountant can provide during the discovery stages such as identifying relevant documents for analysis, other sources of information to access, potential alternative explanations of financial matters, and other avenues of investigation.

Engaging a forensic accountant early can actually save you / your client money and time, by making the discovery process more effective, potentially shortening the whole case by assisting parties to identify and focus on the key financial aspects of a case.

Conclusion

From analysing a business’ financial data in employee fraud and commercial fraud cases, to identification of assets in matrimonial and crime cases, forensic accountants assist individuals, businesses, solicitors and other professionals by providing reliable, independent summaries, assessments and interpretations of financial information. 

If you’re looking to hire a forensic accountant in Manchester, you can arrange a free consultation with one of our directors at Riley Moss. We are a partner-led accountancy firm that have helped a number of clients and solicitors over the last 20 years.