Date posted: 05/12/2020 4 min read

Forensic accounting – an adrenaline career path

Dawna Wright CA explains how the Forensic Accounting specialisation can drive exciting career possibilities.

In Brief

  • Forensic accounting offers an exciting career and allows CAs to differentiate themselves.
  • CA ANZ’s new Forensic Accounting Specialisation program is currently available.
  • Dawna Wright, Forensic Accounting Committee Chair, is herself completing the specialisation.

If you’re not sure what forensic accounting is all about, think somewhere between Ben Affleck in The Accountant and Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence. It can be exciting stuff, and Dawna Wright, Chair of the Forensic Accounting Committee for Chartered Accountants ANZ, will complete the Forensic Accounting Specialisation this year. Here Dawna Wright shares her insights into why forensic accounting is worth exploring.

Related: Forensic Accounting - an exciting specialisation

Could a career in forensic accounting be for you? Find out more by taking a look at how to become a specialist in the challenging field of forensic accounting.

What made you follow a career in forensic accounting?

When I was weighing up university options, I considered either commerce or law. I decided to go down the commerce path, which led me to accounting. But I was always interested in law, so when I heard about forensic accounting and the way forensic accountants work closely with lawyers, I thought it would be interesting because it used my auditing skill set, but in a slightly different way.

Why do you think there increased demand for the services of forensic accountants?

I think it comes down to a combination of factors. First, there's a real focus on independence. The current Banking Royal Commission is a good example of the demand for independent, rigorous analysis. Providing an independent and objective opinion is something forensic accountants do better than most.Also, the world is getting more – not less – complex, and experts who have different skills, backgrounds and experience are needed to help solve problems.A third factor is awareness. As our market matures, people are more aware that there are different types of accountants, and so more people turn to us for help for certain types of issues. 

What is the most exciting part of working in this field?

For me, the most exciting part is jumping into a new matter and learning about a new client and new problem, particularly if it's a high-profile matter that relates to a current and live issue being talked about in the community. That is always exciting.

I also find it exciting to work with some of the top lawyers in the country. They're all very intelligent people and have (and are!) demanding clients. But as forensic accountants, I love the challenge and find it greatly satisfying when we can exceed their expectations and be a part of the process that helps their clients achieve an outcome.

What are the benefits of recognition as a specialist in this area?

A key benefit is helping clients understand the different types of accountants. The general public hear the word “accountant” and assume every one of us can help with their tax returns. So it's good for our profession to have recognition of the different types of accountants.  

It also helps chartered accountants be more aware of different career paths. Younger graduates can start off in forensic accounting, and auditors can also become more specialised.

Related: Why Forensic Accounting is the new black

‘Forensic accountant’ is certainly one of the coolest job titles in the accounting world, but what does working in this area actually entail? We speak to three forensic accountants to find out 

What will members gain by doing the forensic specialisation program?

It’s really important that as chartered accountants, we differentiate ourselves in the market. Completing a specialisation is actually just recognition for the work already invested in a career, but it formalises a pathway.

Having a specialisation also helps chartered accountants build their own profiles and their practice profiles, and because Chartered Accountants ANZ is committed to the professional development of forensic accountants, the specialisation also provides ongoing opportunities.

How do you think your firm will benefit from having recognised Forensic specialists?

My firm – like others, is made up of individuals, and the firm's success is driven by the success of its practices and its people. Having a specialisation doesn’t just help an individual, it also helps the firm demonstrate a commitment to its clients and its people and their development, which helps us attract top talent.

Related: Why study forensic accounting?

He may already be an expert in the field, but Owain Stone FCA who is a partner at KordaMentha was one of the first to study the new CA ANZ Forensic Accounting Specialisation course in 2018.