Diane Womack on what makes a good financial investigator

News, Orlando Business JournalFebruary 2017

Legal

In the Orlando Business Journal, partner Diane Womack shares about the financial impact of fraud on corporate revenue and why forensic accounting is a company's best tool for uncovering the financial facts beyond the fiction.

As appeared in the Orlando Business Journal, February 10, 2017.

By: Denise Hicks

In 2016, Stahl Forensic & Valuation Experts, a boutique accounting firm specializing in forensics and valuations, made a strategic decision to merge with RGL Forensics, a global financial investigations firm. That move resulted in an expansion of its footprint far beyond its Central Florida beginnings.

Here, partner Diane Womack shares about the financial impact of fraud on corporate revenue and why forensic accounting is a company’s best tool for uncovering the financial facts beyond the fiction:

What is forensic and litigation accounting support? Forensic accounting and litigation support are specialty areas within the general accounting field. The forensic accountant is the investigator. They examine everything, from revenue and sales documents to cash flow and inventory report, business plans, budgets, forecasts, and cycles to market conditions and company history. The forensic accountant looks at the business from every angle and from multiple perspectives, combining accounting principles with economics and statistics.

Who is a typical forensic accounting client? Forensic accountants can have a role in any number of situations — anywhere money is an issue or there is a financial aspect in a dispute. We work primarily with insurance companies, law firms and corporations. With the insurance sector, we provide an independent analysis of the loss in insurance claims. Within the legal space, we help quantify damages and measure financial aspects in disputes of all kinds. And working in the corporate sector, we provide business valuations for M&A or reporting purposes and provide predictive analytics to help owners make better business decisions.

How much is fraud a problem for corporations? The volume of reported corporate fraud, bribery and corruption cases continues to rise at an alarming rate. This is quite surprising given the scrutiny of regulatory authorities. The cost of fraud is often more than the dollars lost; it also includes the immeasurable consequences of loss of trust, vulnerability and concern that controls and management are lacking. A recent report estimates that organizations worldwide lose 5 percent of revenue to fraud annually. Those losses are projected to exceed $3.5 trillion worldwide.

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