Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sinason, David H., 1952-

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Accountancy


This paper examines how Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms approach forensic accounting in their organizational structure and hiring practices. Its purpose is to find how and why external auditors form fraud divisions and what credentials are needed to work in this field. It studies the fraud auditing or forensic accounting divisions within the Big Five accounting firms KPMG, Arthur Andersen, Deloitte &Touche, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst &Young. This paper provides those interested in the field of fraud and public accounting an overview of how the organizations incorporate fraud divisions within their regular external auditing practice. Further, it provides insight as to the types of skills, experience, and other qualifications that are necessary to work in this field of accounting. The research conclusions are limited to the Big Five fraud audit or forensic accounting divisions as this group of five firms is unique to the public accounting industry and are not always representative of all public accounting firms. In addition, the method of interviewing representatives ofthe firm also limits the paper, as interviewees may try to present facts with the most positive interpretation. The research was conducted through reviews of the five firm's websites to obtain facts and information about the firm's practice and by interviews with representatives of the firm's fraud divisions. Overall, the five public accounting firms studied KPMG, Arthur Andersen, De10itte & Touche, Ernst & Young, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers approach forensic accounting very similarly. These firms all set up fraud divisions separate from their fundamental audit practices and used the same advancement levels of staff, senior, manager, and partner within the divisions to determine the extent of work performed by an individual. The skills needed to practice in the fraud divisions were similar to that of the external audit practices with additional skills of thinking like a criminal and evaluating people and their emotions needed to be the most successful in these divisions. Certifications such as CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)


17 pages




Northern Illinois University

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