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Job Comparison Essay

981 words - 4 pages

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the similarities and differences between a forensic accountant, a fraud examiner, and an auditor. I believe it will be beneficial to first define each of the terms, then compare and contrast them.
D. Larry Crumbley, Lester E. Heitger, and G. Stevenson Smith define forensic accounting in their book Forensic and Investigative Accounting as “the action of identifying, recording, settling, extracting, sorting, reporting, and verifying past financial data or other accounting activities for settling current or prospective legal disputes or using such past financial data for projecting future financial data to settle legal disputes” (1001 Crumbley, Heitger, ...view middle of the document...

Forensic accountants need to be well versed in the legal system, because many times they will be asked to do a testimony. Due to their expert status they need to have good communication skills, because if they are called into court they need to be able to explain exactly what they encountered. Robert J. Lindquist, senior managing director for Citigate Global Intelligence & Security says forensic accountants need to “understand exactly what constitutes fraud, which includes practical knowledge of the legal system and concepts such as the elements of the offense, what constitutes proof, intent, and completeness of evidence.” (Wells, The Fraud Examiners). One skill that essential in both field is interview skills. Debbie Cutler, a partner with Kramer, Love and Cutler in New York City says “Conducting proper interviews is a large part of being an effective fraud examiner. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of this skill.” (Wells, The Fraud Examiners). A major difference between the two fields is their focus; fraud examination is reactive to fraud that already occurred, while forensic accounting is more a preventive and continuous service.
One of the main differences between forensic accounting and auditing is materiality. Auditors are looking at only a small percentage of the numbers that they deem material. On the other hand forensic accountants are looking at the “detail of a specific aspect of the records, trying to determine why everything does not or should not add up” (1001 Crumbley, Heitger, Stevenson). Forensic accountants also use extensive interviews to find out information, while an auditor’s interaction with the client usually revolve around document requests. Another difference between the two fields is the level of professional skepticism. After working for a particular client for many years, auditors can just assume management integrity. This is not the case for a forensic accountant, who is concentrated on the persons committing the fraud. One element these two field share is their extensive knowledge of accounting. The majority of auditors and forensic accountants are CPA certified and at a minimum have an...

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