How to Become a Financial Investigator

Financial investigation is an essential part of the corporate world that focuses on the identifying the source of a variety of financial issues such as financial audits, fraud investigations, employee investigation, and loss prevention. Financial investigators are specially trained professionals that perform a variety of financial investigation tasks.

What does a financial investigator do?

Financial investigators are responsible for conducting investigations related to financial issues. They investigate evidence of embezzlement, search for assets to recover damages that are awarded by a court in theft or fraud cases, and perform internal financial audits. They collect and analyze information to determine its relevance to financial investigations. Financial investigators are sometimes hired by specific companies to create confidential financial profiles of other organizations that may be related to prospective acquisitions or mergers. Financial investigators must maintain accurate records of all investigative activities and make sure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of the information is constantly maintained.

What kind of training does a financial investigator need?

Financial investigators typically need at least a bachelor degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or other related field. Many financial investigators have master degrees and are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Financial investigators must have a solid background in the many aspects of accounting, bookkeeping, auditing, and other topics. They also usually complete courses in political science and criminal justice. Many aspiring financial investigators complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers provide on the job training where new financial investigators start out performing simple tasks and move on to more advanced duties as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Some financial investigators obtain voluntary certification to demonstrate their competence. Certification requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing an examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a financial investigator?

Employment of financial investigators is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). Growing financial activity and heightened security concerns will fuel job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good with strong competition. Financial investigators with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do financial investigators make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for financial investigators is $62,000; average annual financial investigator salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a financial investigator is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in performing a variety of financial investigation activities. Financial investigators must have a solid understanding of accounting, finance, and other related areas and knowledge of investigation policies and procedures. Detail orientation, patience, persistence, assertiveness, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Financial investigators must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with a variety of people. They must not be afraid of confrontation and be able to successfully obtain vital information.

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