Learning to Follow the Money
From Enron to Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers and more, corporate financial scandals have created an increased demand for forensic accountants. In response to this demand, Webster University created a master’s degree in Forensic Accounting. Today, Webster is the only university in Missouri, and one of only a handful in the U.S., to offer a multi-class Forensic Accounting Masters of Science degree program.
“Forensic accountants must know how to apply their accounting skills in an effective manner to reduce and prevent accounting fraud and other improper financial activity,” explained Richard Dippel, JD, assistant professor and director of the forensic accounting program at Webster. “Our program equips accountants with the knowledge they need to resolve high-stakes issues from the board room to the courtroom.”
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a typical organization loses approximately five percent of its annual revenue to fraud. While white collar crime is one form of fraud, forensic accountants are also asked to assist in cases related to international terrorism, domestic terrorism and organized crime.
Webster’s coursework bridges the gap between lawyers and financial investigators. For example, students are schooled in chain-of-custody rules and the rules of evidence. They are also introduced to legal procedures, cyber forensics, internal auditing, risk management and other topics.
“It’s not just an extension of accounting,” Dippel said. “This is a practitioner-based program. Graduates of the program have the ability to conduct successful investigations and are able to effectively communicate on a variety of criminal and civil financial matters.”
Courses in the 18-month program are taught by experts, including accountants and attorneys who are Certified Public Accountants, Accredited in Business Valuations (ABV), Certified Financial Forensic (CFF), and have extensive and varied backgrounds in accounting, law, investigation, cyber forensics and valuation both from an academic and practical standpoint.