Job of the month: Forensic accountant

tid; ?> Sharleen Thornley profiles a role that requires accounting, auditing and investigative skills, as well as many others

The role of a forensic accountant represents an excellent opportunity for outstanding candidates who want to engage in one of the more varied and interesting areas of accountancy.

At MDD, we operate predominantly in the insurance and litigation markets and are always looking for part or newly qualified accountants to join our experienced and growing team.

Forensic accountants utilise accounting, auditing and investigative skills and have the ability to communicate financial information clearly and concisely. Each project requires analysis, interpretation, summarisation and presentation of complex financial- and business-related issues.

Financial evidence is investigated and analysed, often involving the development of computerised applications/modelling before the findings are communicated to clients, either verbally or via more formal reporting methods.

MDD’s analysts understand the need for their work to stand up to the highest scrutiny. Where legal proceedings are involved, their role often involves the preparation of expert reports, and can result in testifying in court as an expert witness, or preparing visual aids to support trial evidence.

In any forensic accountancy role, strong technical skills are important because the individual must have the ability and confidence to discuss complex accounting issues and present their opinions clearly, to accountants and non-accountants alike.

This is of paramount importance, because your analysis and opinions will often form the basis of legal cases and claim settlements that can be valued in the billions of pounds, and you are likely to have to deal with and manage opposing viewpoints.

Strong written and verbal communication skills will be necessary as you will need to be able to present your analysis face to face, as well as create professional reports and presentations, sometimes working to very tight deadlines.

The ability to analyse and interpret data is vital, as is the ability to determine the information that will be relevant in any given case. Advanced Excel skills are also important as you will need to be able to manipulate large amounts of data and create easy to follow and
informative schedule packages.

Previous experience in the use of pivot tables and complex Excel formulae are considered key assets as our clients expect us to be able to work in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

A willingness and desire to travel, combined with language skills, would be advantageous as the job involves working with companies and people from all over the world.

Because of the varied nature of the companies that forensic accountants deal with, an appropriate candidate will have a natural business acumen, and an interest and ability to understand how businesses operate.

An interest in the technical side of manufacturing and engineering companies would also be beneficial, as would the ability to consider and research the wider environmental factors that affect how a business performs.

Depending on your level of experience, you would typically start as a staff or senior accountant, but you can normally progress to supervisor level with two to three years PQE.

From there, it would be a case of developing client relationships and your experience of the market in order to progress to manager and, ultimately, partner level.

At MDD, we believe that CIMA- qualified or part-qualified accountants are ideally suited to this role as they typically have a good blend of the accounting and technical knowledge required.

The role of a forensic accountant is a challenging and rewarding one. However, the level and rate of progression is only limited by the drive and ability of the individual, and for the right candidate there are no limits as to what can be achieved.

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