With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no real signs of ceasing before the turn of the year, ecommerce is expected to remain a focal point of consumerism, especially as cases once again spike. With cybersales comes cybercrime, and forensic accounting jobs are expected to continue to be in high demand.
Dr. Jennifer Stevens, an assistant professor of accountancy in the Ohio University School of Accountancy stated that “Forensic accounting is the use of accounting knowledge and other skills for the purpose of resolving financial issues in a manner that meets the standards required by courts of law.”
Though there are many, many accounting jobs, most revolve around money earned or money spent by a given company or sole-proprietor. Forensic accounting is much different, and focuses on spending habits and particular transactions related to criminal activity. Legal proceedings that involve money (divorce being a major one) also require personnel skilled in tracking purchases and accounting.
“Forensic accounting offers a broad array of services that fall under its umbrella; however, each individual project is usually very specific or narrow in scope. Thus, forensic accountants might be called the “Special Situations Group” or “Special Teams” of the accounting field”, says Stevens. Here are 4 relative trends in forensic accounting:
Just as spikes in crime in certain cities mean increases in police presence are needed, spikes in cybercrime need people on the good side of the coin to help prevent them. Due to sheer volume caused by increases in ecommerce due to COVID, cybercrime prevention is in demand right now. A large portion of cybercrime prevention lies in security, but without knowledge, it’s difficult for the cybersecurity teams to get ahead of the hackers. Preventative accountants analyze trends in vulnerable accounts so security teams can work to strengthen them.
Financial fraud is nothing new, but trends on how to do it via the internet are ever-changing, and jobs focused solely on creating ways to help defend against financial fraud are becoming more regular. Stevens notes that “Fraud Examination involves preventing, detecting and responding to fraud risks or allegations”.
More than $4 billion was stolen via cybercrime in 2019, and jobs for preventing these crimes, as well as jobs to help figure out who committed them are both trending, and both jobs that forensic accountants would be well-qualified for.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Much like data, artificial intelligence is becoming part of almost every industry, and forensic accounting is no different. Often, the two go hand-in-hand, as data entry is a big part of accounting, and artificial intelligence can exponentially increase data entry practices.
Machine learning is a further evolution of artificial intelligence, and is starting to have some pretty cool uses in forensic accounting, especially in the prevention of cybercrime. Programs are being created that track trends in cybercrime, and using machine learning, can actually “get ahead” of where the cyber criminals are expected to strike next, based on analysis of past crimes and trends related to those crimes.
In 2020, data analytics are part of pretty much every corner of the business sector, and in the world of forensics, it’s no different. A good way to set yourself up for advancement as a forensic accountant would be to get a deeper understanding of data analytics, as a whole, and then see how they can help you improve your own job.
As mentioned, data analytics are used in a variety of ways, and being able to discuss analytics with other parts of the forensic team make you a much more versatile team member, as well as potential leader.
The Distant Future
Even though there isn’t much evidence to suggest that COVID is going to end any time soon, it will, indeed, cease at some point. With that, however, many experts believe a lot of the trends forced by coronavirus shutdowns will continue even after the virus is gone. Remote work is something many are enjoying, and that requires preventative accounting. Ecommerce is also expected to stay steady.
These trends mean plenty of jobs for those companies looking to protect their accounts, and those entities funded to investigate and prosecute cybercriminals.