An Empirical Investigation of the Relevant Skills of Forensic Accountants: Experience of a Developing Economy (Published)
Accounting frauds and scams are perennial. They occurred in all eras and in all countries, and affected many organizations, regardless of their size, location, or industry. From Enron and WorldCom in 2001 to Madoff and Satyam in 2009, accounting frauds and scams have been dominating news items in the past decade. Corporations and regulatory bodies are trying their best to analyze and correct existing defects in their reporting system. After having an overview of the fraud scenario in India, it is apparent that criminals have become technology-savvy, and invented newer schemes to perpetuate crimes. In the current reporting environment of “digital-age,” forensic accountants (FA’s) are in great demand for their ‘niche’ accounting, auditing, legal and investigative skills. Hence, ‘forensic’ accounting has been thrown in the forefront of the crusade” against financial deception and accounting scandals.The present study investigates through a questionnaire, which was conducted in three leading States of the national capital region (NCR) of India during 2011-12, “if there are differences in the views of the relevant skills of FA’s among accounting practitioners, academics, and users of forensic accounting services.” From the statistical test of the hypotheses propounded for this study, we discovered that “core skills are not enough requirements for FA’s, there are significant differences in the relevant skills of FA’s, as given by previous researchers with the current research, and the necessary skills of FA’s, as identified by both academics and professionals, will hopefully meet employers’ expectations too.” Therefore, FA’s, being professional experts having ‘sixth’ sense and possessing ‘special’ skills are urgently required to counter all the ingenuity of these criminals. At present, some Universities in India are considering adding forensic accounting course to their curriculum. The results of this study may provide some guidance to educators for the development of forensic accounting curriculum by identifying the pertinent skills to accompany such a program of study.