Insights: Article

Forensic Accounting on a Budget

Forensics can be expensive but it doesn't have to be

By Brett Johnson

April 17, 2018

Let’s be real, forensic accountants can be expensive. Their experience, educational background and the type of work they perform can put them in high demand. Being in a purely consultative business, as opposed to tax or audit compliance, means that they are only as good as the number of cases they have worked. The more experience, the better the consulting, the higher the rates … you get the picture. In addition, their work product must be suitable for court. This means the facts of the case must be well-represented so that clients, attorneys and/or businesses can make accurate decisions moving forward.

These facts tend to scare people away, which is common, and honestly understandable—especially in matters relating to small businesses or family law cases. One would assume a forensic accountant is not in the budget for a typical divorce case or cash theft at a local car dealership. But wait! What if I told you there are ways forensic accountants can help that are less costly and will still provide the value needed to bring your case to the next level? What if I mentioned that by doing some of the leg work on your end, you could save thousands of dollars? Well, if you call in the next thirty minutes … okay, I get it. This is starting to sound like an infomercial, so I will get to the point.

Affordable Forensics
Here are three common ways forensic accountants assist in matters while keeping costs low and affordable:

  1. Organize and Provide Data
    Data is king. It tells us everything. When someone can be provided with clean, organized data it makes the decision making process much smoother. In some cases, clients don’t need a forensic accountant to start forensic-ing (yes, I made up that word) the data. They just need it provided in such a way that they can analyze it themselves. An example would be utilizing forensic software to process and provide clients with bank transaction data. This allows clients to take advantage of their technology while using a minimal quantity of a forensic accountant’s time.
  2. Review Findings
    Are you feeling energetic? Can you do the forensic-ing (there it is again) yourself? Great! Forensic accountants can review your organized findings and supporting documentation and consult with you on what you may need and other things to consider. Again, a small quantity of time may provide a lot of value.
  3. Data Analytics
    This is similar to number 1. Maybe you have data documented and organized, but this is where you get lost. You are not sure where to go from here or where to even begin. Forensic accountants can examine the data and apply common fraud detection methods to the data to identify questionable activity. This information can be provided back to you for further review.

Think of a home remodeling project. Of course a contractor can have a professional paint the walls of your newly remodeled kitchen, but maybe that is a task you are willing to take on yourself. Or maybe letting out some pent-up aggression on your drywall with a sledgehammer is something you would be happy to take care of yourself. This principle can be applied to professional work as well.

It is important to note this list is not inclusive of all services forensic accountants provide. Remember, the job of forensic accountants is to consult, organize information, analyze data and provide you with comprehensive reports that can assist in legal matters. You may not have to use experts in all matters, and by requesting only specific tasks be performed, you can obtain the necessary information for your case without breaking the bank.

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