This past Thursday, February 23rd, the Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association hosted a successful event with guest speaker Michael Schulstad, a recurring guest of ZFAA and Baruch College. Michael shared his diverse professional story–one that started in public accounting, led to 25 years as a special agent with the FBI and allowed him to work for the US Embassy in Kabul as the Special Inspector General for Afghani Reconstruction (SIGAR). In recent years, Michael has continued his work in Forensic Accounting at WeiserMazars & MFR Consultants. For 90 minutes, Michael shed light on his experiences to help those in attendance see if similar careers would speak to their passions too.
Thursday’s meeting proved popular with all of the seats occupied by students eager to hear Michael’s experiences in forensic accounting. The event’s strong attendance speaks to the rising interest in the field among students. A few minutes listening to Michael and it is evident that he has a deep reverence and passion for the field of forensics. Michael discussed how he left the public accounting field to fulfill his lifelong dream of working as an FBI Agent. Michael shared some valuable knowledge such as how certain specializations in fields like Law, Language, Computer Sciences, and Accounting can help candidates stand out in a very difficult and competitive application process.
Michael shared his stories of working for the FBI in locations such as Las Vegas, New York, Texas, Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Newark. His many years in the FBI led him to face an array of challenging cases. However, Michael expressed it was the challenging and investigative nature of forensic accounting that led him to further pursue it in his career. He also discussed how his admiration, skepticism, and investigative nature led him to investigative auditing. Some of the cases he had a hand in solving included:
- Uncovering scams that took advantage of bankruptcy law
- Cracking down on organized crime in Las Vegas casinos
- Exposing a bank officer who kept two separate books in order to use client funds for his
- Cracking down on a fictitious loan scam initiated by a drug deal and a cooperating bank
officer that used photos of nonexistent airplanes as collateral
After working for the FBI, he worked in private consulting firms directing fraud investigations, data analysis, internal employee fraud, and insurance claims. Michael concluded his discussion by urging the students to look within themselves and evaluate whether they had a similar drive for reinforcing business regulations and crime prevention through forensic accounting careers. He also left contact information for students who sought guidance on how to pursue similar careers.
ZFAA is honored to have Michael come down to Baruch College once again to help inform students and help them create a mental picture if a career in forensic accounting is one for them.
By Anthony Policastro, Edited by Serena Law