About Forensic Financial Analysts

Forensic financial analysts are sometimes referred to as forensic accountants because their primary roles involve crunching numbers and dealing with money. Rather than being employed with law enforcement agencies like many other specialists in the forensics field, these individuals often find employment with large corporations. However, the need for forensic accountants in the law enforcement sector does exist, as well.

What a Forensic Financial Analyst Does

While many people who are involved in forensics are responsible for analyzing crime scenes and/or processing evidence of some kind, a forensic financial analyst is something of a specialized accountant. He or she investigates and analyzes financial evidence that they collect themselves Ė or that is provided to them by the financial departments of major corporations. They help to develop and implement programs that can help process financial information, and they prepare reports and other documents to help document their findings in ways that are easy for others to understand.

IRS and Law Enforcement Employees

Many forensic financial employees in the United States are employed by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, to help investigate companies or individuals who are suspected of tax fraud. Their roles include verifying information that is provided by taxpayers as well as tracking down the sources of money laundering if and when they exist. Those who are employed by law enforcement agencies may also work to uncover money laundering schemes as they relate to the sale of drugs, illegal slave trades, prostitution, and counterfeiting. In both cases, these individuals must be able to present their findings in court in front of a judge and/or jury. As such, to become a forensic financial analyst, candidates must be able to understand basic court proceedings.

How to Become One

Though many careers in the forensics sector require an education based in criminal justice, many forensic financial analysts instead have degrees in accounting with a focus on criminal justice. Some may choose to double major, and others will get an associateís or bachelorís degree in accounting followed by a graduate degree in criminal justice or forensic science. Those who wish to become employed with groups like the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security in hopes of thwarting or prosecuting terrorists will need masterís degrees and clean criminal records in order to gain employment.

Certifications Available

Like other careers in forensics, this one also has its own specific certificate that candidates can earn in order to appear more valuable in the job market. The CFFA Certification, or Certified Forensic Financial Analyst credential, is issued by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts, or NACVA. Those who wish to earn these credentials must already have a certificate as some sort of valuator, appraiser, or accountant in order to be considered, and annual ongoing education is required to maintain the CFFA certification.

Though a forensic financial analyst does not necessarily visit crime scenes and experience all of the hands-on excitement that comes from processing through evidence, he or she plays a vital role in the justice system by helping to determine how and when a crime has been committed through the study of money and finance.