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AICPA Forensic Accounting Credentials Are Attorneys’ Top Choices

Expert-witnessWhere do attorneys turn when they need to make a compelling case on a critical financial issue? That question can be answered by considering what kind of expert witness they employ. In a recent compilation of accounting expert witnesses who have been mentioned in court opinions or decisions in 2013, the vast majority were CPAs. (Disclaimer: The article was by Ashish Arun with Expert Witness Profiler. AICPA FVS Section Members receive a discount to Expert Witness Profiler, but we were not involved in this study.) Among the 189 accounting experts cited, 166 were CPAs. For those with specialized credentials on top of the CPA, the AICPA’s credentials were clearly preferred over those of other credentialing organizations. The Certified in Financial Forensics credential took the number two spot at 58 experts and the Accredited in Business Valuation credential took number three with 54 testifying experts. The CVA at 31, CFE at 30 and the ASA at 18 were well behind the AICPA credentials on this list.

In addition, writing in an article on the CPA as an expert witness, attorneys Thomas A. French and Cory A. Iannacone of the law firm of Rhoads & Sinon LLP said, “…CPAs as expert witnesses have become an invaluable asset to all attorneys who work in the field of complex commercial litigation—with the CPA having the ability to make or break any case. The roles these experts play expand much further than the trial itself, with the CPA proving to be most valuable when brought into the case at its earliest stages.”

It is not surprising that CPAs are the top choice when an expert witness is needed to testify. CPAs have ranked among the most trusted professionals for years and their reputation for objectivity and independence make them ideal expert witnesses. In an increasingly competitive environment, additional credentials only enhance their distinguished reputation in the marketplace. As the compilation shows, the AICPA’s credentials are the ones preferred by the legal community.

That’s due in part to the high standards required to earn an AICPA credential. The ABV™ and CFF® exams test a specific body of knowledge and are psychometrically administered to ensure the tests are reliable and valid. On top of an exam, most quality credentials set a minimum standard for specific education and experience in order to obtain the credential. In addition, all AICPA credentials issued in the United States require that the applicant hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license. This helps to enhance the practitioner’s reputation in the marketplace and distinguishes the AICPA credentials from others.

There’s clearly strong demand for forensic accounting services offered by CPAs with specialized credentials, which makes this an appealing practice niche. Forensic accounting services are a natural fit for CPA firms. Do your research and make sure whichever credential you obtain has a good reputation in the marketplace and offers the tools and training you will need to succeed in this lucrative field. The AICPA offers the CFF and ABV credentials for CPAs who want to practice in the forensic arena. Go to aicpa.org/fvs to learn more about these credentials and the pathway to obtaining them. As you do, there’s a good chance you’ll find robust interest in your services.

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

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