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Friday, January 06, 2006

Forensic accountants book governance gains

They are the crime scene investigators of their profession. They can spot a financial violation in minutes, act on it and shut it down. More importantly, they can prevent malfeasance, or so they claim.

Forensic accountants are the new wunderkind of the financial world. Every company should have one. They should be mandatory keepers of the vault. Indeed, if a corporation doesn't have one of these risk managers overseeing or securing its operations, the company should be fined. Big time. Here's why: the biggest financial scandals in history could have been prevented had one of these specialists been on staff.

Forensic accountants employ systems and standards that keep a company and its personnel honest. They do this real-time with newfangled gadgetry and risk-management software programs that allow company executives to be alerted when an action is unauthorized or out of order. These alerts can flag computer access or even expense reports.

Tim Leech, a forensic accountant and chief methodology officer (that's a new one on me too) of Paisley Consulting in Cokato, Minn., says he has one simple objective: making sure a company has reliable financial standards.

"We set internal and external controls so that you can monitor and make sure a company is adhering to its assurance context," he says.

That, of course, needs some explaining. In interviews with Leech and several of his colleagues at other firms, I was able to piece together exactly what forensic accountants do.

posted by Brian Moran @ 9:00 AM   0 comments

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