Career Path of Forensic Accountant

Career path dainik bhaskar

Forensic Accounting is emerging as the new career option for those who are looking to find some excitement in the commerce stream. Article published in Dainik Bhaskar (Highest Circulated News Paper in India) has explained the career options available to commerce and management students to get into relatively new professional domain of Forensic Accounting.

Career Path of forensic accountant

Forensic Accountants are the experienced auditors, accountants, and investigators of legal and financial documents that are hired to look into possible suspicions of fraudulent activity within a company; or are hired by a company who may just want to prevent fraudulent activities from occurring.

In law matters accounting, auditing and investigative skills used for forensic accounting. In this branch of accounting mainly financial records of a client or firm who trapped in a legal matter is verified and evaluated. There are three main sections – litigation, investigation and solution the dispute. The professionals in these fields are called Forensic accountants. They use professional accounting, law, finance and investigation related techniques to evaluate the validity of any activity. Forensic Accountants are the experienced auditors who protect the accounts of an organization and stop any type of fraud.


For Certified Forensic Accountant it is necessary to be a  student from a recognized institution/university, should have three years professional experience and has passed Certified Forensic Accounting Professional (CFAP) Exams of Indiaforensic Center of Studies with minimum 75% of marks.


In this section the main courses are Post Graduate Diploma in Forensic Accounting, Certificate Course in Forensic Accounting Professional, Certified Anti-Money Laundering Expert, Certified Bank Forensic Accounting and Certified Vigilance and Investigation Expert. The Major Institution conducts these courses

1. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, New Delhi.

2. Solapur University, Solapur

3. Indiaforensic, Pune.

Job Opportunities

Forensic Accountants can work in Big Accounting Firms where most of the works are related to the investigation of the merger and sequestration, to participate in specialized audit and other legal assistance, to investigate about the economic crime, tax and even investigate about the terrorist. These professionals have to fulfill their role in the matters of divorce, matter of trade carelessness, investigation of claims and personal injury. These professionals can work with Non –profit organization (Includes government and law implementation agencies), the in States and with those persons who need Forensic accounting services.

Shalini Chakravorty’s journey to Antifraud Professional


shalini chakravorty Shalini Chakravorty, Country Manager of Hill and Associates in India is one of the most influential women professionals in the antifraud domain. Shalini, in exclusive interview with Apurva Joshi – CEO of Fraudexpress shared some of her thoughts on the antifraud profession in India
CA by profession, Shalini has experience of 12 years. She is also a US Certified Fraud Examiner. Shalini and her team has worked on several fraud examination and forensic accounting  in India and abroad. Shalini has also completed Accelerated Management Program from Indian School Of Business, Hyderabad – 2005.

Forensic Accounting assignments are very close to my heart as this is my core expertise at Hill & Associates. Shalini starts her interview. She is very skeptical about disclosing the names of her clients as she mentions that she have signed Non Disclosure Agreement. The Clients broadly include fortune 500 multinational companies from US and Europe.

When Apurva asked her about her previous experiences with the antifraud publications she mentioned that there are not may publications in the antifraud domain. Other wise she has contributed her thoughts in Business Standard and

This interview lasted for an hour and Apurva went on posing various questions to Shalini and here is how the interview took shape.

When and how did you start in anti-fraud and forensic functions field?
In the year 2004. After Joining Hill & Associates. Transitioned from a finance professional to Fraud examiner.

How do you define anti-fraud and forensic functions field?
Anti Fraud and forensic function involve investigation and documenting fraud including financial fraud. Forensic Accounting, however is a broader term and it involves support  to legal teams in terms of providing the analysis on the financial evidences.

What is the scope of anti-fraud and forensic functions field in India?
Shalini feels very passionate about this profession, especially the forensic accounting and terms it as  upcoming and very promising career she remembers a case where she applied forensic accounting techniques in resolving the disputes between the Management and the Union of the company. Forensic Accounting has got vast applications. is your estimate of the forensic accounting and antifraud industry in India ?
Shalini is quite pessimistic and feels that there is a need to have more professionals who are Certified as the Forensic Accountants and according to her estimate there might be roughly 200 professionals whom she know. However adding those in Big four accounting firms it could be even 400. But it is not a significant number and the internal auditors should be trained on the forensic accounting techniques.

What are the career opportunities that you see in this domain?
Multiple. The fraud has reached an alarming situation In India. It is vital across industry to prevent fraud rather than being reactive. Interestingly, Companies have recognized this. Forensic approach is interesting, investigations are interesting but preventive approach will create more job opportunities.


Successful forensic accounting enterprise

forensic accounting enterprise

Ellen Zimiles-SmallEllen Zimiles is a Managing Director and Head of Global Investigations and Compliance practice of Navigant Consulting.  She has more than 25 years of litigation and investigation experience. Ellen Zimiles along with Joseph Spinneli formed Daylight Forensic in 2006. This was an entrepreneurial venture backed by FTV capital.  Fraudexpress interviewed Ellen Zimiles through emails and understood more about her. Acquisition of Daylight forensic by Navigant can be termed as one of the biggest success stories in the forensic accounting enterprise valued at $ 40 million. Daylight was acquired in the year 2010 and here is what the women behind the deal have to say to Fraudexpress.

How did you enter the Antifraud Profession?
I entered the anti-fraud/corruption practice in 1986 when I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Rudy Giuliani was my first U.S. Attorney and Mary Joe White was my last. During my ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, I was exposed to all kinds of fraud across a multitude of industries. I have investigated hundreds of fraud and corruption cases. I had served as a partner at a Big Four accounting firm for almost ten years where I ran the Financial Services Forensic Practice and coordinated the work across all industries.
Tell us something about Daylight Forensic?
I was approached by a private equity firm to start my own firm. I negotiated with several firms and finally agreed to work with FTV Capital, who funded Daylight.

What is your role in the new organization after the acquisition?
As Global Head of Investigations and Compliance, I oversee approximately 100 people who provide investigative and compliance services in the area of anti-money laundering, anti-fraud and corruption, public services and monitoring. I also coordinate and collaborate with other practices in the firm.
You are termed as the expert in the corruption in BRICS region. How do you see India in terms of forensic services ?
India is fully ripe for our services. India is very focused on reducing its reputation for public corruption and inadequate regulation in the anti-money laundering areas. Our experience in these areas is unparalleled and we have fluent speaking in Hindi and Urdu. I have managed some of the top investigations in the world relating to frauds and money laundering. Our experience involves Asia, Latin America and Europe.
How to be successful in the anti-fraud profession ?
To be successful in this area, a professional needs to understand industry practices but not be overly persuaded by them. We need to use a critical eye when we see long-term practices that may not be legal or appropriate but are accepted as “business as usual.” To reduce fraud globally you need a combination of strong controls, clear communication of zero tolerance and enforcement of the sanctions for non-compliance.
How would you rate the forensic function over the merger acquisitions function in terms of professional opportunities as you have seen both sides of the coin ?
I would rate anti-fraud and forensic accounting as top of the list for a intellectually challenging and financially rewarding profession that is often just plain fun. I learn every day about new schemes or activity and it keeps me fresh. Having said that, I can draw on my experience to
understand the activity and address a plan to prevent and detect it in the future.

Ellen has set the trend in forensic domain
The forensic space has not yet heated up globally. There were very few acquisitions made in past few years by the global companies. Some of the major acquisitions were Baker Tilly business in Hongkong by FTI consulting and Daylight Forensic by Navigant. However, the acquisition of Daylight Forensics by the Navigant Consulting is one of the trend setting acquisition.


Navita Srikant Share her thoughts to fight frauds

navita shrikant

navita shrikanthNavita Srikant is a B.Com (Hons.) graduate from SRCC, Delhi University, followed by qualifying as Chartered Accountant. Continued to evolve further by completing Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Fraud Examiner Certifications.
In my 20th year where I have gained expertise in domains such as auditing, internal controls, risk management, governance, compliance and anti-fraud, forensic accounting, investigation, corporate intelligence, money laundering, anti-corruption policies and strategies at corporate and country level.

Pure play fraud/security/ethics complaints cases which I have led in management position would run over 50+. These numbers however include time spent in geographies outside India. My investigative experience has enriched by exposure to cases across continents such as Colombia, Brazil in Latin America to Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and other countries in Europe to India, Sri Lanka in Asia and USA.

Besides, my anti-fraud work made me travel to Singapore, Thailand, Dubai, Belgium, Norway, Finland and London.

When and how did you start in anti-fraud/security and forensic functions field?
Early 2000, I had transitioned from external auditing to governance, internal auditing and risk management functions. I was enjoying seeing the organization from internal perspective of processes and procedures and realizing importance of management oversight. I used to present to Audit Committee and it was fascinating to see how the culture varied from organization to organization. For some it was a mere check in the box and some where members questioned if management had repeated control deficiencies..Finally Enron happened…This case was a life changing case for me. I remember reading every detail, every article written on this case. It was intriguing for me and I questioned myself, with best of external auditors, best in class internal audit function and risk management function which was quoted by other corporate what went wrong? Those days, forensic functions were mostly focused on investigation. These were reactive practices waiting for the phone to ring. My study of Enron case convinced that there is a disconnect between governance, compliance, risk management, internal auditing and investigation functions…This is when I presented my case to Head of Forensic department and asked if I can build anti-fraud solutions. I focused heavily on defining methodologies of fraud risk management, ethics and integrity solutions and became a leading trainer on SAS 99 and ISA 240 (fraud standards for external auditors in early 2000). I was also inducted as faculty by IIA Switzerland to teach on Practice Advisory 1210. A2 which also related to sufficient knowledge of fraud indicators for internal auditors.
In parallel, I continued to focus on investigation and arbitration cases. Later on, I was faculty on forensic accounting course organized by ICAI.

How do you define anti-fraud and forensic functions field?
I would recommend to refer definition of occupational fraud which provides you with detailed classification. On Anti-fraud programs and controls, I would recommend reading SAS 99 which provided detailed guidance on what these preventive measures constitute and how these can be audited. Most difficult anti-fraud control to implement and /or audit is “Tone at the top” and failure of which leads to most of the financial statement fraud.

Forensic function would comprise of skill set which includes, investigative, accounting and auditing skills. Forensic accounting involves examination of books and records and preparation of analysis and outcome which is supported with evidence and is suitable in court of law. This is mostly applied in cases of disputes, financial statement fraud and so on. Forensic functions use investigative skills to solve complex cases of cyber crime, business intelligence, professional negligence, ethics violations, employee frauds, business investigations, asset tracing, dispute resolution cases, etc.

Forensic functions are heavily dependent on use of forensic technology tools which are integral to most of the investigations. In addition, such a function also benefits from professional from security / intelligence background.

Which is the most memorable case that you have witnessed in your career? What was remarkable about that case?

Two cases that come to mind. Given that sooner or later transactions do speak, the cases are mostly straightforward. Time consuming or fishing through mammoth transaction is part of our day to day job.. But this case was interesting for me as I was dealing with the Regional Head who had masterminded organization wide fraud at a subsidiary level. However, allegations were against the subsidiary CEO. We had all the evidence to support these allegations but question was how do we get the one whose finger are actually on the CEO’s button and he has left no trace. The only way to get him was if he confesses. He carried lot of weight in the organization and I was warned to be careful. I received life threats in following weeks and finally the day scheduled to interview the Regional Head arrived. My interview lasted 6 hours..A make or break moment and I got him. This profession makes you committed to the cause. You may not be fighting battle on the border but you are fighting for a cause, for the truth..and then you are no longer afraid.

Second case was in Colombia…investigation into allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Rumors were that funds are being siphoned off to projects which are no longer viable due to security concerns. When I came to their offices to investigate, country director asked me to leave as he believed that I will be biased in opinion since our investigative team was engaged by their headquarters. For three days, we were denied access to records and we waited in conference room..Slowly he opened up and I walked up to him and said, “you have to trust me and my professional ethics and I assure of fair investigation.”Country was witnessing civil war and activities of leftist guerrilla army were on peak. One of the project I chose to investigate was in the village of these FARC rebels. Today, if I reflect then may be I would have thought twice before taking a security risk but my investigation couldn’t have been completed if I was not on ground zero to witness reality myself. After all, I had given the Director my word of fair investigation so there was no tracing back steps. This was the most remarkable case in my life which taught me perseverance, compassion yet firmness, objectivity and balance.

What is the scope of anti-fraud and security functions field in India?
Quite good, I must say. Security functions definitely yes. However, anti-fraud or preventive controls may still take some more time to take off and not enjoy as much priority as in western countries. Unless we see stronger enforcement and penalties on failures and non-compliance, anti-fraud investments will not grow much. Look at US, how they are driving FCPA compliance and corporate fear non-compliance due to penalties and corporate integrity agreements.
Both Physical and IT security functions will continue to grow as India will continue to be a leading economic player. As a priority, corporate must get these two basics right: safeguard where you are and who has access to you= simple equation.
Another practice which will have growing significance is intelligence.

What is your estimate of the industry according to you – how many number of people are employed and what could be the combined revenues?
Its yet to receive the status of industry classification, isn’t it! Nevertheless, there should be about 5000 professionals in India…assuming dedicated forensic practices of leading firms, boutiques, private investigators, CA practitioners, corporate security functions, investigative journalists, etc.

What are the career opportunities that you see in this field ?
Like I said, ever growing field. Every case is unique and learning the tricks of trade for money laundering case to cyber crime vary so much that you can never get bored and there will be no dearth of work.

How do one become forensic accountant/security professional – what qualifications,background and qualities you look for?

For Forensic Accountant – must are investigative, accounting and auditing skills. Typically we do look for abilities such as analytic and out of box thinking, perseverance- a real must.

There are certification courses available which can facilitate learning.

Can you quantify the amount of frauds that you have investigated?
Economic losses may be easy but quantifying reputational damage is a challenge.

What is your advise to the students aspiring to become anti-fraud professionals?
Am happy to share my guiding principles which have helped me to make the right choice…Don’t treat it as a profession; Believe in a good cause. Be fair. Treat the subject with professionalism. Maintain your objectivity and independence. Its ok if you got the hypothesis wrong, start all over again! – measure twice cut once.

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