Forensic Accounting in India started with one word – Indiaforensic in the year 2006. It is an exciting career option for the commerce and finance graduates. These professional accountants are the bloodhounds of bookkeeping. These bloodhounds sniff out fraud and criminal transactions in bank, corporate entity or from any other organization’s financial records.
Over the decade it has evolved as one of the most sought after career options for the accounting and auditing professionals.
Many commerce and finance graduates are looking at the opportunities in this niche domain. However, a little guidance is available in India to be the successful forensic accountant. I have penned down my experiences to become successful in this challenging profession, in my book – Students Handbook on Forensic Accounting. I have outlined the different opportunities available to aspirants in this domain.
What is Forensic Accounting ?
In simple language is the analysis of the financial evidences in the matters which are pending before the court of laws. Forensic Accountants are the expert witnesses who help the law enforcement agencies in the financial frauds and investigations.
It was defined in 1940 in the United States as the combination of accounting, auditing and investigative skills. CA Mayur Joshi, in 2003 refined the term forensic accounting, when the profession was still in the nascent stage. He added the importance of technology to the routinely discussed accounting, auditing and investigation skills.
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.
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. Its an exciting field and to get recognized as the forensic accountant it is necessary to have the requisite credentials. Many professionals proudly flaunt their Certification on professional social media sites such as Linkedin .
Forensic Accounting Certifications
There are many certifications offered by Indiaforensic, Riskpro Learning and other providers which include CFAP, CBFA, CSMFA, CIFA.
|Certification Name||Target Audience||Mode||Registration Link|
Certified Forensic Accounting Professional
|Accounting, Commerce and Finance professionals with three years experience.||Distance Learning||CFAP|
|Global Certification in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Detection||Global finance, accounting and management students aspiring to become forensic accountants||E-learning||CFAFD|
|Certified Bank Forensic Accountant||FCU, RCU, Vigilance and Market Intelligence Units of Public sector or private sector banks||Distance Learning||CBFA|
|Certified Stock Market Forensic Accounting Professional||Stock Brokers, Investors, PE Funds and Credit rating analysts||Distance Learning||CSMFA|
|Certified Insurance Forensic Accountant||Personal Injury, Insurance Claims, Internal Audit teams of Insurance companies||Distance Learning||CIFA|
|Certified eCommerce Frauds Specialist||Professionals from eCommerce, Payment Gateways||Elearning||CEFS|
Eligibility for Certifications
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 in forensic accounting. However, it is recommended that students should have more than 3 years of experience.
What do u learn in CFAP program ?
Certified Forensic Accounting Professional (CFAP) is one of the best entry points to enter the ever-shining career path. It is one of the most popular courses because of its exhaustive syllabus. This program covers different subjects designed for accounting, finance and auditing professionals. These include
- Principles of Forensic Accounting
- Pillars of forensic accounting – Litigation support and investigative accounting
- Role of the Forensic Accountant
- Scope of Forensic Accounting services
- Classification of Frauds
- Red flags of Fraud
- Data Analysis for forensic accountants,
- Forensic Audit of Financial Statements
- Revenue recognition frauds
- Money Laundering
Simulated Examinations and Questions
One needs to pass the Uniform Examination to become CFAP. Students need to score 75% marks to be called as a Certified Professional. Certification examination consists of 100 questions. The examination needs to be completed in 2 hours time.
Those who are simply exploring the domain can take up the simulated examinations designed for the aspirants. It is important to understand the inclination, before taking the decision to opt for CFAP or any of the above programs. Simulation exams consist of 20 questions and are free and open to all.
Forensic Accounting in India
Sherlock Holmes was probably the most famous practitioner being the Forensic Chemist. But Kautilya was the first economist, who openly recognized the need of investigative accountants. He mentioned forty ways of embezzlement centuries ago.
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. Forensic Accountants do the work of a smart accountant than a traditional auditor.
Smart accountant 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.
Scope of services
The Opportunities for the Forensic Accountants are growing at the rapid speed. According to the Indiaforensic Research, the Forensic Accountant Salary is steadily growing with the increased scope of the work. Forensic Accountants are in demand to investigate the insurance claims of personal injury. They are required to assess the nature of default in the banking sector, whereas they quantify the damages caused to investors in the ponzi schemes.
In India the formation of Serious Fraud Investigation Office was the boon for the Forensic Accountants. SFIO created enough awareness in the government agencies about the economic damages, investigations, forensic accounting etc. Reserve Bank of India issued notification on forensic auditing in 2009. 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.
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 of forensic accountants in India. Today, CFAPs are present in more than 500 domestic and multinational companies. become a influential community in the country. Many public accounting firms have started floating their practice.
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.
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.