Nature of IFA
The growing complexity of personal and organizational interactions and an increased appetite for formalized methods of dispute resolution have combined to heighten the need for accountants skilled in investigation and resolution of financial disputes in both civil and legal proceedings. Investigative and forensic accounting is the rigorous investigation of the financial aspects of a particular situation, usually with the objective of establishing evidence relating to possible or pending criminal or civil legal proceedings. It involves the investigation of situations where "white collar" crime is suspected and also those where a dispute needs to be resolved.
Fraud, money laundering, supplier kickbacks and other examples of "white collar" crime represent a serious threat to business competitiveness. Accountants are increasingly involved with the investigation of these activities and of the investigation of economic losses due to damages to businesses, property or personal injury. While the demand for forensic accountants has been said to be increasing by 100 percent per year there is a dearth of university courses and programs designed to educate forensic accountants.
The IFA practitioner requires a broad range of knowledge and skills to carry out financial investigations. These include: accounting, audit, and income tax knowledge; fraud knowledge; knowledge of law and rules of evidence; an investigative mentality and critical scepticism; understanding of psychology and motivation; and, strong communication skills.