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Study Questions Holders of Forensic Accounting Credentials

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By Michael Cohn
February 20, 2013

A new academic study examines whether forensic accountants exercised due diligence in investigating the corporations that issued their certifications prior to obtaining their certifications.

The study, by Wm. Dennis Huber of Capella University, surveyed the holders of various forensic accounting credentials and found that many forensic accountants failed to exercise due diligence in their investigation of the corporations that issued their certifications.

He sent emails to 1,261 addresses of people who identified themselves either as members of a forensic accounting corporation or as holders of one or more forensic accounting certifications and invited them to participate in an online survey in early 2011. While 314 respondents began taking the survey, 182 completed all the questions, and a different number completed different questions.

Huber has written a series of papers finding fault with forensic accounting organizations (see Study Compares Forensic Accounting Organizations and Researcher Foresees Regulation of Forensic Accountants). In the latest paper, which appears in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting, he noted that forensic accountants’ failure to exercise due diligence in investigating the corporations that issued their certifications calls into question either their ability to exercise due diligence, or their dedication to exercising due diligence.

“Forensic accountants’ failure to exercise due diligence, coupled with the failure of forensic accounting corporations to disclose important information concerning their legal status and qualifications of officers and board of directors, suggests that the market is not functioning and the profession is unable to regulate itself,” he wrote. “If the profession is unable to regulate itself, the potential for state, or even federal, intervention is significantly increased.”

Huber concluded that the failure of forensic accounting corporations to disclose important information, coupled with the failure of forensic accountants to exercise due diligence in investigating the corporations, suggests there is a need for reform within the forensic accounting profession.

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