Q: Given your position, I am sure you meet people from different industries all the time, which means having to describe what RGL does. What are some of the most interesting questions you have been asked when you say you work for a forensic accounting firm? Is there a lack of understanding in the market when you introduce who you work for? And how do you describe forensic accounting and the work the firm does?
A: ‘Forensic’ is such an interesting term to have attached to a firm name and profession.
When I meet people for the first time, I often get a host of responses and questions. If people see the name RGL Forensics or hear forensics, the response is usually along the lines of “Oh, that’s so interesting. Is that like CSI? Do you get to carry a gun?” But when I say we do forensic accounting, I can group the responses into three general categories: “I’ve never heard of it,” “I don’t really know what that means,” or “I know exactly what you do.”
When they have no idea what forensic accounting is, you often get jokes. “Is that like looking at dead accountants?” or “Oh, accounting, how boring.”
When they’ve heard the term before but don’t really understand what it means, the response is usually more along the lines of “Oh, that means something’s gone really wrong. I hope I never need to call you.”
And even for those who know what forensic accounting is, they may not fully appreciate the value we can bring as a firm dedicated to forensic accounting and consulting services.
So what is forensic accounting?
By definition (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/forensic-accounting), forensic accounting is ‘a process of examining a person’s or organization’s financial records to help find out whether a crime has been committed, or to help with a legal case.’ However, forensic accounting is not always used exclusively for legal cases or crime. We also provide services in the quantification of losses in insured events or the valuation of assets for purchase, sale or reporting.
Of all of the financial experts, the forensic accountant is most like the investigator. Taking little at face value, they analyze source documents and examine the business or situation from many angles and perspectives. They use a combination of accounting, economics, statistics and investigative techniques.
Forensic accountants are often brought in when things just don’t seem right, or when the size or volume makes the analysis complex.
Regardless of how the conversation starts, every time I talk to someone it is an opportunity to share a bit about who we are, what we do, how we can help and why we do what we do.
We know that the insurance market has been using forensic accountants for many years in the quantification of losses. Consequently, many who have been in the business for several years know the experts available, but they many not fully grasp the nuances of working with different types of financial experts or the value of engaging an independent financial expert. On the other hand, forensic accounting is a newer introduction to the corporate and legal markets. Business executives and lawyers more often speak in terms of economic damages and valuations, and may see all financial experts as interchangeable.
When talking about RGL and what we do, I like to focus on what we consider our core capabilities. In nearly every engagement, we are using some combination of quantification, valuation and/or investigation skills and techniques. Whether we are quantifying a loss, investigating the reason and result, or valuing assets, we help our clients understand the financial impact and implications in a given situation. We advocate for the truth behind the numbers.
Our ultimate goal is to make the financial aspects of the engagement easy for all parties to understand, and to provide an independent assessment of the financial impact of the situation. And at the end of the day, forensic accounting is probably one of the most interesting fields of accounting you can go into. Give a look at our Experience section to see where our work has taken us and the variety of industries we work with.