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Due Diligence in Choosing a Forensic Accounting Credential

Wm. Dennis Huber, JD, DBA, CPA, CFE

G. Stevenson Smith's article, “The Past, Present, and Future of Forensic Accounting” (The CPA Journal, March 2015, p. 16), provides useful information for CPAs and others interested in the growing field of forensic accounting. In 2012, the field's annual revenue was estimated at $4.6 billion and expected to grow an annual rate of 6.8% to $6 billion by 2017 (Ken Tysiac, “Demand Strong for Forensic Accountants in Wake of Financial Crisis,” Journal of Accountancy, Sept. 24, 2012). It comes as no surprise that many organizations want a piece of the action, and Smith provides a list of corporations that issue certifications in forensic accounting.

Nevertheless, CPAs, or and anyone practicing forensic accounting, must exercise due diligence when deciding which certifications to obtain. For example, in the United States, not all of the corporations listed by Smith have a code of ethics, or, if they do, the code is not enforceable. Furthermore, some of the corporations are for-profit. There is nothing wrong with a corporation that issues a certification in forensic accounting being a for-profit corporation, but they may not disclose this fact. Some of the corporations have officers and directors that have no experience or education in forensic accounting.

I have written extensively on this topic. Readers interested in more information should see, for example, “Should the Forensic Accounting Profession be Regulated?”, Research in Accounting Regulation (vol. 25, issue 1, April 2013, pp. 123–132).

Wm. Dennis Huber, JD, DBA, CPA, CFE. Capella University, Minneapolis, Minn.

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