Most business people are familiar with an accounting audit which looks at the business performance and compliance from a numbers and process perspective. Forensic accounting is a little different. It takes into account motivation, particularly the motivation employees or business partners may have to defraud your business.
The numbers in a set of account can hide a range of fraudulent activity from the casual or even the experienced eye. The job of Blackhawk’s forensic accountant is to look beyond the numbers and dig in to the business practices that may be hiding behind them and how these may reveal a fraudster at work.
Of course, it’s not just fraudsters we try to catch. Forensic accounting firms such as Blackhawk help those in dispute resolve their differences by uncovering the reality of a particular situation, particularly in complex financial and business related matters.
Blackhawk’s forensic accounting specialists are expert in analysing, interpreting and summarising particular business or financial circumstances. This helps in clearly communicating financial information concisely and articulately if the case ends up in a court room.
What is Forensic Accounting?
The clue is in the name ‘forensic.’ “Forensic” means “suitable for use in a court of law.” An accountant undertaking forensic work needs to hold ‘Chartered’ status in the UK to be qualified to give expert testimony in a court of law.
A forensic accountant utilises a range of skills, experience and understanding in the areas of business information, economic theory, financial reporting systems, accounting and auditing procedures. In addition he or she may have in depth understanding of data and electronic discovery, analysis techniques to uncover fraud, such as machine learning and data mining, stochastic forensics and steganography.
The goal is simply to uncover evidence that can identify the processes and data through which a fraud has been committed or an error has been made and for the evidential findings to be suitable for use in a court of law.
How do our forensic accountant services help?
Here are a few areas:
- In ascertaining economic damages suffered by a company through contract breach
- When M&A go wrong and expectations or warranties are not met
- Typical bankruptcy and insolvency cases
- Fraud, especially securities fraud and embezzlement
- Company valuations, perhaps in preparation for a public floatation or acquisition
- Computer forensics that can uncover hidden information believed lost or wiped either accidentally or maliciously.
- Professional negligence claims
What types of companies can benefit?
This really depends on the scale of the perceived or experienced problem. A good accountant may be able to uncover the trail of an employee or business partner intent on fraud, or investigating financial aspects of an M&A. However, in serious cases though a qualified forensic accountant, sometimes called a forensic auditor or investigative auditor, is required.
Forensics accountants are used by many sized companies in many industries. Sometimes employed directly, such as in large accounting firms, security services, financial institutions and the police.
Any company that suspects or has cause for concern over a business transaction with a supplier, partner or employee, may consider the use of Blackhawk’s forensic accounting service, depending on the scale of the potential loss.