Forensic accounting is a highly specialized field within the overall discipline of accounting that developed decades ago. The forensic accountant must have knowledge far greater in depth and breadth than a mere accountant or even a CPA. They must have the ability to trace and analyze complex financial transactions and data to formulate an opinion that will stand up to scrutiny and is defensible in court, if need be. Developing a defensible opinion, sometimes without the aid of all the information due to difficulty or inability to obtain records, requires special skills and years of experience to reach the best conclusions.
In addition, subscriptions to the latest and best national research databases in business trends and transactions must be maintained; otherwise your expert could be relying on old, misleading or insufficient data which may be a problem for you in the litigation process when the other side's expert is more up to date. Beware of "experts" offering reduced hourly rates or charging much less than local competitors as it could indicate a lack of sufficient technical resources.
In recent years, the increase in fraud, damage claims and other financially related investigations and litigation has led more accountants and CPAs to begin claiming that they are forensic accountants or that they offer these services. A proliferation of academic "certificates" or degrees from various institutions throughout the country has also resulted in a significant number of persons entering the field without much actual experience.
Many "experts" in the field have little to no testimony experience- they have consulted in a limited number of matters which may have settled or not gone all the way through the litigation process - this is especially common in commercial matters where parties tend to settle rather than litigate - if your matter proceeds to trial, having an expert with little experience on the stand could mean a less than favorable outcome for you.
Someone once said: "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional,wait until you hire an amateur".
Before hiring a forensic accountant, you would be well served to ask the following:
How many years have you been practicing as a forensic accountant?
Do you possess any special credentials in forensic accounting or business valuation? From what organizations or entities? How long have you held the credentials?
How many times have you testified or been qualified as an expert witness? In how many states?
How many matters or investigations have you been involved in during the course of your career?
Have you ever been the subject of a Daubert or Frye challenge? What was the result?
How much experience do you have with my particular kind of case?
What is the largest matter you have been involved in, in terms of dollars? What is the smallest?
Have you ever been specifically cited as credible by a judge or other ruling authority?
How secure are my documents and sensitive financial information while they are in your possession?
Our experts have decades of experience in all the industries we serve, hundreds of testimony appearances, and an extensive knowledge base in our practice areas. Our integrity and commitment to excellence is second to none, and we are technologically up to date with the latest security measures available for your protection. Please contact us for our answers to these and other questions you may have - make a wise decision when hiring a financial expert.
Stahl Forensic & Valuation Experts a licensed CPA firm, is a premier provider of Forensic Accounting and Litigation Consulting services in Florida specializing in Business Valuation, Tax, and Investigative Accounting services. They consult and provide expert testimony in commercial litigation, bankruptcy, eminent domain, tax and matrimonial proceedings in Tampa, Orlando, throughout Florida, and nationwide. Our skilled professionals have extensive training and credentials in accounting, financial forensics, valuation and fraud investigation.
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