When it comes to Forensic Accounting 101, there aren’t many people more qualified to speak about the subject than Marc Benson. On November 10th, 2016 the Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association invited Marc as guest speaker to present the differences between audit and forensic work; share anecdotes from his career, and give valuable advice to students who attended the popular event.
Marc, who is a Baruch alumnus, started his career practicing audit at KPMG but changed his line of work after having the opportunity to work on one of the firm’s forensic projects. With the analytical and investigative skills he honed from his positions as Director of Investigation for American Express and Deputy Inspector General for the NYC Department of Investigation (just to name a few), he now stands in his current consulting position as Director of Navigant Consulting’s Global Investigations & Compliance Practice.
During his presentation, Marc described the pros and cons of working in forensic accounting as opposed to auditing. Forensic Accounting is best described by its creative, thought-provoking, and autonomic work conditions. Some even consider the work fun! This field prompts individuals into “thinking as a thief”. As a result, having a long detailed plan is not always feasible. Every case is unique: obtaining clients are difficult and large amounts of travel are involved. To those who find this style of work appealing, Benson encourages them to build their skills set by solidifying their accounting foundation, developing analytical and IT skills, understanding internal controls, and above all, strengthening their communication skills to clearly and concisely explain any findings verbally and in writing. Because forensic teams comprise of individuals with various skills, people from different backgrounds are sought after. To set oneself apart and offer a variety of unique skills to future employers, Marc urges students to build their own pool of knowledge and be creative about their career paths. Marc also emphasized the importance of professional and personal networks in finding a job.
As a professional who’s had a long career in forensic accounting, Marc Benson has seen a large growth in the practice. Nowadays, many audit firms have a forensic accounting practice because the need to involve forensic procedures in auditing has increased; this is so that the firm can be protected from possible litigations. At the event’s conclusion, Marc gives one last advice for Baruch students: to find a job they enjoy as much as he enjoys his.
By Justyna Maj, edited by Maisie Gao