Forensic Accounting in India started with one word – Indiaforensic in the year 2006. Forensic Accountant is a bloodhound of Bookkeeping. These bloodhounds sniff out fraud and criminal transactions in bank, corporate entity or from any other organization’s financial records. CA Mayur Joshi, in 2003 refined the term forensic accounting, when the forensic accounting was in the nascent stage. He added the importance of technology.
Over the decade it has evolved as one of the most sought after career options for the finance professionals. Forensic Accounting job is now incomplete without digital forensic tools. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is now being used to detect the frauds before they grow big. Data analysis is becoming vital and Benford’s law is now next to absolute.
Looking at the opportunities many finance students are aspiring to become forensic accountants but little guidance is available in India to be the successful forensic accountant. I have penned down my experiences to be successful forensic accountant in my book – Students Handbook on Forensic Accounting. I have outlined the different opportunities available to aspirants in this domain.
One of the first things to get into forensic accounting is to understanding the difference in Auditing and forensic accounting. I have seen number of CA aspirants posing this question. The forensic accountants hound for the conclusive evidences. External Auditors find out the deliberate misstatements but the Forensic Accountants find out the misstatements deliberately. External auditors look at the numbers but the forensic auditors look beyond the numbers.
Certified Forensic Accounting Professional
Certified Forensic Accounting Professional (CFAP) is one of the best entry point to kick-start the career as forensic accountant in India. It is one of the most popular courses because it is not necessary to be a Chartered Accountant to add four letters CFAP before your name. One needs to pass the Uniform Examination to become CFAP. Register here for to be a Certified Forensic Accounting Professional
In order to get recognized as the forensic accountant it is necessary that you have the requisite credentials to show. I have seen many professionals proudly flaunting their Certification on professional social media sites such as Linkedin .
This program covers wide array of topics specifically designed for the non accounting experts. These include
- Principles of Forensic Accounting
- Role of the Forensic Accountant
- Scope of Forensic Accounting services
- Classification of Frauds
- Red flags of Fraud
- Data Analytics for forensic accountants,
- Forensic Audit of Financial Statements
- Revenue recognition frauds;
- Money Laundering
Forensic accounting is the application of a specialized knowledge and specific skills to stumble upon the evidence of economic transactions. The job demands reporting, where the accountability of the fraud is established and the report is considered as evidence in the court of law or in the administrative proceeding.
In addition to the specialized knowledge about the techniques of finding out the frauds one needs patience and analytical mindset. One has to look beyond the numbers and grasp the substance of the situation. It is basically the work of the smart accountants.
He needs to question seemingly benign document and look for inconsistencies. He searches for evidence of criminal conduct or assists in the determination of, or rebuttal of, claimed damages.
He requires the ability to think. Far from being an ability that is specific to success in any particular field, developing the ability to think enhances a person’s chances of success in life, thus increasing a person’s worth in today’s society.
Sherlock Holmes was probably the most famous practitioner being the Forensic Chemist. But the Kautilya was the first economist who openly recognized the need of the forensic accountants. He mentioned forty ways of embezzlement centuries ago.(These are discussed in detail in the Students Handbook on Forensic Accounting).
The Opportunities for the Forensic Accountants are growing at the rapid speed. According to the Indiaforensic Research, the Forensic Accountant Salary is growing since 2009.
In India the formation of Serious Fraud Investigation Office was the boon for the Forensic Accountants. SFIO created enough awareness in the Indian regulators. Reserve Bank of India issued notification on forensic auditing in 2009 and in the drive to reduce the Non Performing Assets, Bank Forensic Auditors are playing a key role.
In the Indian context the Forensic Accountants are the most required in the wake of the growing frauds. The law enforcement officers are the experts of analyzing the fingerprints and the Narcotics but what about the digital evidence analysis. Very few know about it.
It’s a thrill of hunt. Maurice E. Peloubet who coined the term Forensic Accountant in 1946.
This statement is enough for the accountants in India to foray in this field. It is new child on the block. CBI, EOW and CID cops do the forensic accounting work. Until recently there was no separate community in India. But now Certified Forensic Accounting Professionals have become a influential community in the country.
The growing number of regulators and the administrative agencies will demand the services in the nature of forensic practice. More Accountants are going to find themselves involved in what is essentially a type of forensic accounting practice. The changing nature of the Accounting and Auditing & assurance standards also confirms this.
Far from the humdrum stereotypic accountant your mind might have initially conjured, the forensic accounting professional is more of a private investigator with a financial sixth sense than the bookkeeper with a green eyeshade.
However, there is a significant difference in the forensic accounting and forensic auditing. I have seen lot of people using this term as substitute of each other. Though both are post mortem and are seemingly similar profession. Their application in practical life is different.
NSE Academy Endorsed Forensic Accountant
To address the increased demand of forensic accounting professionals, NSE Academy (Wholly Owned Subsidiary of National Stock Exchange) launched the Joint Certification Program in Forensic Accounting with Indiaforensic in 2018. There is a constant demand for the certification as stock market frauds is one of the major area of practice for the certified forensic accounting professionals. It is not necessary to be a Chartered Accountant to complete this certification offered by the National Stock Exchange. Students with more than 3 years experience can complete the certification.