Big Data tops issues facing forensic and valuation accountants

BY CHRIS BAYSDEN

Electronic data analysis, also known as “Big Data,” is the most pressing issue that forensic and valuation services (FVS) accountants expect to face in the near future, according to survey results released Tuesday by the AICPA.

A quarter of respondents to the 2014 AICPA Survey on International Trends in Forensic and Valuation Services identified electronic data analysis as one of the top five issues they will face over the next two to five years. In addition, 85% of respondents to the open-ended survey expect to see an increase in the amount of time they spend on electronic data analysis in the near future.

“Big Data presents a real opportunity for businesses to glean actionable insights from information,” said Jolene Fraser, CPA/CFF, and chair of the survey committee, in a news release. “However, the downside is that it also presents a risk because the more data available, the harder it is to spot fraudulent activity, such as the creation of a fictitious employee or an improper payment to a vendor.” 

“To combat this risk, businesses rely on forensic accountants for their expertise digging deep into the data, unraveling the work of criminals, and detecting that fraud.”

In addition to electronic data analysis (identified as a top-five issue by 25% of respondents), the other top issues FVS accountants expect to face include:

  • Increased complexity and scrutiny in engagements (20%);
  • Competition and fee pressure (14%);
  • Regulatory changes (11%); and
  • Attracting and retaining qualified staff (7%).


The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 12 to Oct. 25, 2013, contained 443 qualified responses. In addition to AICPA members, the survey was open to members of CPA Canada for the first time.

Chris Baysden ( cbaysden@aicpa.org ) is JofA senior manager, newsletters.

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