As the accounting profession continues to grow and offer stable employment, the number of available accounting jobs in fraud detection continues to grow as well. For the accountant who is perhaps tired of the daily routine associated with more conventional accounting work, from corporate earnings preparation to individual taxation, the fraud detection side of the profession offers a fresh perspective. Instead of performing daily accounting duties, these professionals devote their career to investigating them. The constant search for accidental or deliberate accounting irregularities is one way to regulate business, keep financial conversations honest, and ensure that no company is defrauding investors, consumers, or event he government. The broad scope of fraud detection in accounting breaks down into several key roles.
Forensic Accounting: A Big Part of the Broader Accounting Profession
Forensic accountants are among the highest-paid people in the accounting profession, because their work is often the most difficult and most important. Forensic accountants are essentially fraud investigators who spend their time reviewing public accounting filings, business behavior and disclosure, and employee actions on the job. They’re also among the most highly educated accountants in a typical office: The job requires no less than a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA, and often requires professional certification as well. Forensic accountants work for government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, and they often work in large corporations to oversee adherence to ethics standards as well.
Internal Auditors: Paid to Prevent Larger Problems and Investigations
While forensic accountants often work in large organizations, they’re not the primary way for businesses to ensure that their accounting practices are in like with accepted ethical and federal rules. This responsibility falls more often to the internal auditor, who works alongside accountants throughout the day. In many cases, accounting work is reviewed and approved by the auditor before it can be submitted to managers or investors for publication and further review. The internal auditor is on the frontline of accounting fraud investigation. By comparison, forensic accountants are usually brought in to review the auditing itself, if the auditor is believed to be complicit in fraud within the company.
Government Fraud Investigators and Review Boards
Accountants also work alongside Congress and federal agencies to determine whether or not the government is properly budgeting its money, accounting for various expenses, and adhering to strict ethical rules that govern gifts and certain types of spending. These accountants often work for the GAO, or Government Accountability Office. In this capacity, accountants will review campaign contributions and lobbyist transactions, gifts to candidates and elected representatives, trips and tips given to elected officials, and other suspect transactions that could indicate corruption. If necessary, they’ll also provide testimony in grand jury investigations or other legal proceedings against those officials whose activities have run afoul of government regulations and ethical requirements.
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Lots of Opportunities Exist for Accounting Fraud Detection Work
From corporate accounting offices to government agencies and forensic accounting investigations, the hard work of locating and documenting fraud during the accounting process requires professionals who have advanced education and an eye for detail. The accounting profession itself is expected to enjoy stable growth throughout the end of the decade, especially as the business sector recovers from the recent recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the expansion of accounting jobs continues, the number of highly specialized accounting jobs in fraud detection will only continue to increase.