Following the money or the road less traveled by Guest Blogger Trish FritschePosted: September 21, 2015
Our careers as CPAs evolve over time and can follow one path up the hill, or can take the path less traveled, which has been my path. The constant that has traveled throughout my career is to serve the public, and one that I continue to share with my peers. While on the path of following the money, a transition occurred to being a forensic accountant when the SEC issued a temporary restraining order involving asset freezes and other types of relief in a financial scheme aimed at our elderly citizens in multiple states, one of which included Texas.
Forensic accounting isn’t for everyone, and several years back I joined the TSCPA Business Valuation, Forensic and Litigation Services Committee, in which I currently chair, with the commitment to make training available in Texas for our local CPAs that have chosen this practice offering. As an extension of that service, the one-day conference in Texas was set as a landmark achievement by the committee that I hope continues for a long time until we have trained each forensic accountant with the tools to be the best of the best. The annual one-day conference in Texas educates forensic accountants on industry issues and professional standards for CPAs committed to be relevant and reliable.
The tip today, or the road sign, is our changing environment. Each year change is coming and the question is are we maneuvering to embrace change or are we not. Change has been a constant throughout my career like exiting the paved road to a river with a swift current with occasional rapids here and there. One change that I want to educate on is interviewing skills. Interviewing skills are an integral tool in the tool kit of the forensic accountant and how we perform interviews is important. Before a person meets a forensic accountant in an interview we will know a lot about what makes you who you are. The question is what water stage in the river are you in your interviewing skills, are you prepared for the rapids in the river.
The reality is by the time we get to interview, that person has been interviewed multiple of times by a multitude of departments within an organization and or enforcement. Next time the river curves and a rapid, fraud or other event happens take a written statement first. Give each person a blank piece of paper, a computer with a blank page, a phone for a text and let that person blog away about the event. Remember to ask them to include before, during and after the event. Change is here, and as the river travels onward people are instant thinkers and the time of face to face discussions including truth and without deception are few. Most people look at paper and pen as an unnecessary old wooden paddle. People will put significant information and personal statements when not having to perform in person. Once the statement has been saved for the decision to hire the forensic accountant, do the interviews that are necessary. Remember, when independent evaluation starts, take that statement to someone that has knowledge in discourse analysis to perform an evaluation of the event.
Yes, forensic accounting is a way to follow the path less traveled, and a way to serve the public in many different ways. Whether your road is valuation, fraud or litigation support, hope to see you at the conference. Remember reach out to your local chapter or a state committee and make our profession better because change is coming and I can’t wait to see what is next.
P.J. “Trish” Fritsche, CPA, CFF, CGMA, CITP is the Chair of the TSCPA’s Business Valuation Forensic Litigation Services Committee. Check out this year’s CPE event in Houston for training on Business Valuations, Litigation Services and other areas of interest.