Case study

Forensic accountant — Becki

Becki enjoys making a difference in her job as a forensic accountant. Find out how she helps to prevent crime and find those responsible for committing financial wrongdoing

How did you get into forensic accountancy?

During my final year at university I applied to the PwC Forensic Services Graduate Scheme. This involved completing an online application, having a telephone interview and attending one of their assessment centres.

The final stage was a one-to-one interview with a partner. The process took approximately five months (from September to February) from my initial application to receiving the formal job offer.

What's a typical day like?

In my role I help clients to investigate, analyse and pre-empt a range of business risks and issues. A typical day is very hard to describe since every day is different depending on the client and the nature of the case.

Some days I can be investigating fraud allegations and on others helping to resolve commercial or transactional disputes.

Clients can range from FTSE 100 multinational companies, small independently-owned enterprises and public sector bodies and organisations.

When preparing information to present in court, such as witness statements, it is important to work well under pressure to ensure deadlines are met.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Being naturally inquisitive with a flair for solving complex problems, I really enjoy helping clients to find solutions to difficult issues and building long-lasting relationships.

The variety of the job also appeals to me as some days I will be working on small cases, while on others I will be involved with high-profile cases that make it to the news.

What are the most challenging parts?

When you're working to tight deadlines you need to make sure everything is completed on time. Being able to make sure you get all your work done in the set amount of time requires good management skills.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I have only been in the role for a year but in this time I have gained a huge amount of experience and undertaken various internal training courses. I have also begun to study for the ACA qualification to become a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

The ACA will take three years to complete and as I progress through the scheme I will get the opportunity to work in different areas. This means I can enhance my internal networks and gain a breadth of professional experience, which I can utilise when advising clients and dealing effectively with crises.

In the long term I would like to be made a partner but in the short term I am enjoying training on the job.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree in economics and management was useful in helping me to secure the role, as in my second and final year I chose electives specifically in accounting and business law.

However, the graduate scheme I applied for at PwC does not require a specific degree since there is no stereotypical forensic services graduate. Instead they look at your extra-curricular activities and your transferable skills, including problem solving, curiosity and persistence.

What advice would you give to others?

Do your research in order to make sure you fully understand what forensics accountancy involves. Employers may not expect you to have specific experience but they do want to understand your motivations and why you want to do it.

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