The corporate world employs financial investigators to discover the source of various financial problems as well as in areas as diverse as fraud investigation, financial audits, loss prevention and employee investigation. These investigators are often Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
To succeed in this role, a financial investigator should have a good education in the fundamentals of various aspects of accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, and other specialties as required. The investigator should possess excellent powers of observation, research and analysis, and should be detail-oriented, patient and persistent, and have a problem-solving mentality.
Although there are no rigid college requirements to become a financial investigator, most employers desire some indication of competence in the field. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a master of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting can serve this purpose, as can obtaining Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification.
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The term financial investigator can cover a wide variety of tasks depending on the venue and the assignment. Corporate investigators, for instance, are often employed by businesses to conduct investigations within that company. These can include fraud investigation or financial audits, among other tasks.
Financial investigators are occasionally employed or contracted by one company to develop confidential financial profiles of other companies that are parties to prospective mergers or acquisitions. Among additional functions, they might search for assets to recover damages awarded by a court in fraud or theft cases, investigate for evidence of embezzlement or perform internal financial audits.
Since the tasks required of a financial investigator can vary from company to company, salaries can range from minimal for short-term tasks to extremely well for investigators with proven abilities, the proper credentials and a history of successes.