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In Times of Catastrophe and Routine: The Need for Forensic Accountants

Business-continuityIn the aftermath of May’s devastating tornado, the residents of Oklahoma are undoubtedly facing challenges to recovery on multiple fronts… physical, emotional, financial and beyond.

The first responders did their part to begin the recovery process as soon as the storms cleared. But in the weeks and months ahead, CPAs will be providing assistance in their own way, by expertly answering questions and providing essential guidance in the recovery process.

Simply put, we can play a part in reestablishing people’s livelihoods and restoring communities that have suffered great loss.

For example, local business owners dealing with business interruption losses may need answers regarding the optimal time to contact their insurers, how to document the claims or something as fundamental as what their policy will and will not cover.

 

A forensic accountant can help by stepping in to determine the unique circumstances of each business interruption loss, facilitate timely payments, deliver sound advice, reduce frustration and help people get back on their feet.

Even for more quotidian situations, from divorce and bankruptcy to fraud and valuation, forensic accountants combine investigation, auditing and accounting to deliver a specialized approach to the subject at hand; collect, analyze and evaluate evidential matter; and interpret and communicate findings in the courtroom, boardroom or other legal/administrative venue.

Forensics demand on the rise

Over the next two to five years, anticipate a growing demand for forensic services as a direct result of increased litigation and regulatory enforcement.

In surveys of CPAs, opportunities for growth and areas of demand were specifically noted as:

  • More time spent on shareholder/partner disputes, contractual disputes and family law
  • Bankruptcy, insolvency and reorganization, in light of ongoing economic uncertainty and instability
  • Forensic and valuation practices for succession planning, as well as technical, practice development and leadership abilities for younger CPAs

For CPAs with forensic accounting expertise, this increase in demand can translate into promising career opportunities. For firms, capitalizing on these emerging areas can lead to new revenue streams.

Starting this month, firms and individual CPAs can sign up for the new Forensic Accounting Educational Certificate Program, designed to address topics in this popular niche service. Program members can apply the earned CPE hours as part of their Certified in Financial Forensics credential’s education requirements or toward future credential eligibility.

Additional resources are available from the AICPA to learn more about forensic accounting and disaster relief.

Eddy Parker, CPA, CGMA, Senior Technical Manager - Forensic and Valuation Services, American Institute of CPAs.  

Business continuity image via Shutterstock 

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