5 Common Characteristics of a Forensic Accountant

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5 Key Traits of Forensic Accountants

  • Attention To Detail
  • Tech Savvy
  • Integrity
  • Patience
  • Problem-Solving Skills

Forensic accounting is a specialized field of accounting that combines the profession with forensics in order to uncover financial crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, tax fraud and more. Students interested in this career path should understand the common characteristics of a forensic accountant. Students who possess these characteristics are likely to make good future forensic accountants.

1. Attention To Detail

Forensic accountants must have an extremely strong attention to detail. They must be able to analyze significant amounts of financial data and notice subtle patterns or other abnormalities in that data. They cannot afford to overlook details because any one small detail may determine the outcome of a case. Any occupation that requires working with numbers requires strong attention to detail, but this one does more so than most.

2. Tech Savvy

It should go without saying that forensic accountants need to have vast knowledge of technology and software products. This includes most accounting programs commonly used by businesses, such as QuickBooks, as well as technology and software tools that forensic accountants use to uncover fraud. Much of their job is spent on computers and other devices to detect and analyze fraudulent financial data. As technology becomes more advanced, forensic accountants will need to keep up to remain as knowledgeable as the individuals committing financial fraud they seek to uncover.

3. Integrity

Forensic accountants often must pass background checks and be eligible for certain levels of security clearance, according to PayScale. They have to be honest and dependable because of the sensitive nature of their work. Some forensic accountants work as private consultants and constant and consistent honesty and integrity is one of the best ways to gain clients. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is one very important way to showcase integrity and professional dedication.

4. Patience

Financial crimes are not always readily apparent, making one of the biggest forensic accountant characteristics a great deal of patience. Traces of fraud are often very well-hidden and forensic accounting investigations can move incredibly slowly. This requires patience to avoid getting frustrated and attempting to usher the investigation along. The patience to look at everything and pick out every detail makes a stronger forensic accountant because they are likely to build a stronger case when they do.

5. Problem-Solving Skills

Because they investigate potential crimes, forensic accountants must have impeccable problem-solving skills in order to determine how a crime was committed. They are often involved in a case after fraud has already occurred and thus must puzzle out all the different aspects of the crime. However, sometimes forensic accountants help companies and other organizations guard against financial fraud, in which case they need to understand and utilize the best techniques for preventing fraud from occurring in the first place.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Online Accounting Master's Degrees

Often working for law enforcement agencies, forensic accountants follow the money in order to uncover financial crimes and fraud. It can be an exciting career for accountants who also have an interest in criminal justice and law enforcement and who like a challenge. Students with these forensic accountant characteristics and an interest in the profession should consider becoming forensic accountants.