In this video, Chris Osborne, Partner and head of the forensic services at FRP, discusses the skills that are required to be a forensic accountant.
He explains that it is important to have an inquisitive mindset, good attention to detail and an ability to process large volumes of data, while having a solid understanding of accounting principles and legal concepts.
Forensic accountants are often engaged by law firms, and therefore will be required to think about a case from the perspective of accountancy and the law, and while a legal background is not essential, it would help in the role.
It is also important to have client management skills, particularly when it comes to managing expectations. Forensic accounting involves asset tracing and recovery, and clients will often hope to retrieve the assets that they have lost to fraud.
However, depending on the jurisdiction that this asset has been taken to, particularly if it’s overseas, it can be extremely difficult to retrieve it. Manging client expectation in this regard is important.
Asset tracing involves looking at paper trails but will also require on-the-ground investigations, which can also require a different set of skills. Knowing how to work in different jurisdictions and understanding the law in this respect is important.
Being able to weigh the cost benefit of going after some assets is also a key part of the role of a forensic accountant.
Osborne joined FRP in 2016 to set up the forensic accounting practice at the firm and has over 20 years of experience working on disputes, fraud, bribery and corruption investigations.
Over the course of those two decades, he spent three years on secondment with the Serious Fraud Office as a forensic accountant, and a secondment to the Financial Services Authority as a financial investigator. Osborne is a fellow at the ICAEW and has an LLB Law degree.
He says that during his time, he has never experienced a point when the work was not stimulating and challenging.