The Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation is a key credential for business professionals who want to launch careers in forensic accounting. Technological advancements that have led to increases in the types and frequency of white collar crimes and the public’s growing annoyance with those who commit fraudulent activities have made the accounting subcategory of financial forensics popular. Forensic accounting involves the investigation of potentially fraudulent activities and the presentation of evidence in support of legal actions. Since accusing an individual or corporation of fiscal wrong doing is a serious matter, government agencies only hire experienced accountants who have well recognized credentials in general accounting as well as financial forensics. Here are some of the requirements for attaining the CFF designation, the important skills that CFF candidates must demonstrate to gain certification and the types of specific job responsibilities of CFF accountants.
Requirements for Becoming a CFF Accountant
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants administers the CFF designation for accountants who want to specialize in this niche accounting field. The well respected designation cannot be earned without a great deal of planning and preparation that relates to education, training and experience. The primary prerequisite for the certification is a valid CPA license which can only be earned by accountants who have taken 150 semester hours of related education, passed a rigorous exam and acquired the minimum amount of work experience that is required by the state in which they practice. A CFF candidate must also pass a comprehensive exam that covers details of forensic accounting practices. The designation is most appropriate for accountants who have recently specialized in forensic accounting at the undergraduate or graduate school levels since CFF applicants must have 75 hours of forensic accounting related education to qualify for the credential. 1,000 hours of direct forensic accounting work experience within five years of one’s application for the CFF designation is also required to gain certification.
Skills Needed by Successful CFF Accountants
There are certain skills and knowledge that accountants must possess and demonstrate to gain the CFF designation and subsequent employment in the career field. For example, successful CFF accountants have solid analytical, research, organizational and quantitative skills. These abilities are used to assess numerous financial documents, identify anomalies in financial reporting and calculate losses through statistical methods. CFF accountants must also employ superior written and oral communication skills to effectively report the findings of their research and analysis to their colleagues and to accurately convey evidence as expert witnesses in court proceedings.
Job Responsibilities of CFF Accountants
CFF accountants review financial records to conduct business valuation activities, locate hidden assets and trace funding transactions. The accountants’ knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and financial reporting standards as well as their keen investigative skills help them to identify patterns within financial records. Those patterns can lead to the identification of money laundering, procurement fraud, asset misappropriation and securities fraud activities.
Forensic accounting has an established place in developed economies. Most societies expect that experts in the career field will exploit the latest technologies to identify, expose and help to eliminate widespread financial crime techniques. A licensed accountant who earns the Certified in Financial Forensics credential is likely to understand the latest investigative methods for financial fraud, associated computer applications and the financial reporting regulations that are needed to shut down many white collar crime operations.