Litigation, regulation expected to add to forensic and valuation workload


Forensic and valuation CPAs expect increases in litigation and regulation to add to their workload and make it challenging to hire and keep qualified employees, according to a new AICPA survey.

Attracting and retaining qualified staff led the list of top challenges over the next two to five years, identified as the top concern by 25% of the 737 forensic and valuation CPA respondents in the AICPA’s recently completed 2011 Forensic and Valuation Services (FVS) Trend Survey. Fifty-seven percent said they plan to hire more people to provide computer forensic investigative services.

Robert Harris, CPA/CFF, CGMA, chairman of the 2012 AICPA Certified in Financial Forensics Credential Committee, said recruiting forensic and valuation CPAs is a challenge because the job can require long hours and testimony in the courtroom.

“You’re putting yourself on the line every time you go into the courtroom and testify,” Harris said. “Many people don’t like the idea of the direct challenge.”

There is hope for reinforcements. Harris has found during speaking engagements on college campuses that students are intrigued by the career. And he said more universities are offering courses and programs in forensic and valuation accounting, though not enough to meet the demand.

That demand appears likely to continue to grow, according to the AICPA survey. Seventy-nine percent of respondents expect greater demand for services in the next two to five years, and 80% expect an increase in litigation and regulatory enforcement.

Keeping abreast of regulatory changes, identified by 14% of respondents, was rated as the second biggest challenge facing forensic and valuation CPAs. The report recommends that firms keep informed on new regulations by leveraging technology to take advantage of guidance online; assign specific employees the responsibility for updating others on new regulations; attend conferences or watch webinars; and subscribe to key periodicals.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, P.L. 111-203, has added complexity to the regulatory landscape, Harris said.

“It’s just a regulatory environment we’re living in today,” he said. “We’re seeing more opportunities for people to have fines, penalties, and contract breaches.”

Despite the expectation of future increases, 67% of the forensic and valuation CPAs in the AICPA study said regulatory and compliance changes have not had an impact on their practices.

In anticipation of a need for hiring in forensic and valuation services, the report offers tips for firms on recruiting and retaining qualified staff, including:

  • Acknowledge strengths and weaknesses of the current structure; identify staffing gaps and whether existing employees can fill them.
  • Be creative about recruitment, using different approaches including print ads, recruiters, and advertising through state societies.
  • Use existing staff to recruit.
  • Be flexible with work expectations, including schedules.
  • Develop internal leadership or mentoring programs.

Ken Tysiac ( ) is a JofA senior editor.

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