Forensic Accounting Investigations 101

You need a forensic accounting investigation, but you may be wondering what that may involve.  No two investigations are the same, each investigation presents its own challenges that will need to be addressed.  According to, these are some basic steps to a forensic accounting investigation that can help you to be better prepared to help the forensic accountant you hire.

 Meet with the client

  • The forensic accountant will generally want to meet with the client to get an understanding of what is needed, the basic facts of the case, who is involved, and what potential issues may come up.

Perform a conflict of interest check

  • The forensic accountant will want to perform a conflict of interest check once all parties are known, to adhere to required standards.

Perform an initial investigation

  • By performing an initial investigation, the forensic accountant can get a basic idea of what is involved to help them in putting together their plan.

Develop a plan

  • This plan is going to direct how and what the forensic accountant does during the investigation.  As with all plans, it may require adjustments, depending on what is found during the investigation.

Obtain relevant evidence

  • This is where you can be most helpful.  Getting the forensic accountant timely access to the relevant evidence, such as documents and accounting systems, is important.  Once the plan has been developed, documents and other evidence should be assembled to support the investigation.

Perform analysis

  • This may be the most time consuming step.  The forensic accountant will perform analyses, based on their plan and the evidence that they have gotten.  These analyses may include:
    • Damage calculations
    • Asset tracing
    • Transaction summaries
    • Transaction tracing
    • Financial statement comparisons

Prepare the report

  • The financial accountant will write a report that summarizes what they were asked to do, the scope of the investigation, what they did, procedures and methods used, limitations, and what they found.  Schedules, graphs, tables and other relevant information may be included in the report to give the user a complete package.

 Although every investigation is different, these basic steps give you an idea of what the forensic accountant will do for you.


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