Shilts CPA

Frequently Asked Questions

A Forensic Accountants is a professional who use a unique blend of education and experience to apply Accounting, financial analysis and investigative skills to uncover truth, assist in financial investigations and ultimately provide a credible analysis that may be relied upon in court or mediation. Forensic accountants are regularly retained by individuals and attorneys to engage in investigative accounting and/or the calculation of economic or financial damages. Such analyses typically involve a written report, but may also include the delivery of expert witness testimony in depositions, mediation and/or trial settings.

Because of their unique blend of education, skills and personality required, their expertise is relied upon in a wide variety of situations.

  • Commercial Damages: Most commonly, forensic accountants are asked to provide expert witness opinions regarding lost profits and/or unjust enrichment. They do so within the context of complex commercial litigation matters involving disputes such as breach of contract, fraud, product liability, wrongful competition, construction claims and intellectual property infringement.
  • Shareholders and Partnership Disputes: Forensic accountants are often asked to perform a detailed analysis of accounting records to identify, trace and quantify the compensation, benefits or distributions received by shareholders or partners.
  • Business/Employee Fraud Investigations: These engagements can involve tracing funds, asset identification and recovery, forensic intelligence gathering, suspect interviews and due diligence reviews.
  • Matrimonial Disputes: These cases often require a forensic accountant to trace, locate and value assets in order to ensure an equitable division of funds between divorcing parties or to determine the income available for child support.

A capable forensic accountant should have the following skills and characteristics: strong knowledge of accounting and financial analysis, curiosity, discretion, sound professional judgment, and an ability to listen effectively and communicate clearly. A good forensic accountant must also be able to consider alternatives, scrutinize the fine details, and at the same time, see the big picture.

On most occasions, a forensic account is hired with a specific job in mind such as calculating damages, tracing and dividing assets, or valuing a business. Depending on the engagement the forensic accountant chosen should have the education, work experience, and certified credentials to withstand the scrutiny of the courtroom. Some of the common credentials to look for in a forensic accountant are:

  • CPA - Certified Public Accountant
  • CGMA - Chartered Global Management Accountant
  • ASA - Accredited Senior Appraiser
  • ABV - Accredited in Business Valuation
  • CFF - Certified in Financial Forensics
  • CFE - Certified Fraud Examiner

A Certified Public Accountant ("CPA") is a professional designation awarded to a licensed accountant. The CPA license is provided by the Board of Accountancy for each state. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants ("AICPA") provides resources on obtaining the license. The CPA designation helps enforce professional standards in the accounting industry.

Chartered Global Management Accountant ("CGMA") is a professional designation awarded to a certified public accountant ("CPA") who has advanced proficiency in finance, operations, strategy, management, and ethics. The ABV certification is overseen by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants ("AICPA") and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants ("CIMA").

An Accredited Senior Appraiser ("ASA") is a professional designation awarded to an individual who is recognized as having achieved the highest level of education, training, and report writing for business valuations. The ASA designation is the gold standard for a business valuation professional and is issued by the American Society of Appraisers.

An Accredited in Business Valuation ("ABV") is a professional designation awarded to a certified public accountant ("CPA") who specializes in calculating businesses' value. The ABV certification is overseen by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants ("AICPA").

The Certified in Financial Forensics ("CFF ®") credential is for CPAs who specialize in forensic accounting. The CFF credential is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in forensic accounting through their knowledge, skills and experience.

A Certified Fraud Examiner ("CFE") is a professional designation awarded to fraud examiners. CFEs are subject to periodic continuing professional education requirements ("CPE") in the samemanner as CPAs. The CFE designation is issued by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners ("ACFE"), the world's largest anti-fraud organization.

A Neutral Financial Professional has the specialized training, knowledge and experience in neutral forensic accounting specific to the financial and accounting issues encountered in collaborative divorces. They reach financial conclusions based on their forensic work which enables them to resolve situations that could lead to an impasse. This helps ease the tension between the divorcing couple.

Early is better. Don't be the client that waits until the last minute, only to find your expert has already been retained by the opposing party. By waiting, you also forego the valuable services your expert can provide during discovery by identifying needed documents or preparing you to depose a witness or opposing expert. Such service early in the process can actually save you or your client money by making the discovery process more effective. It is always best to retain your expert too soon rather than too late.

We usually book approximately 60 days out, but this may change. Please contact our office at (844) 850-6166 for a current timing quote.

Yes, we can schedule an initial consultation in 30 or 60-minute increments. The charge for this is $400 per hour. This is included if you engage us for planning consultation services. See our process below.

It is nearly impossible to estimate the cost of our services without having pre-existing knowledge of the company, scope of the business, financial background, and a review of the accounting system. Our typical approach is to engage with a client and before commencing any paid services, we take a look at the scope of the project and provide estimates. Many times, these estimates include certain timing thresholds or designated points in which we report our findings so that we can estimate future costs. With the number of engagements our team has performed over time, we have the ability to provide pricing estimate ranges in most scenarios. We will bill you for our services rendered based upon the actual time incurred by the professional working on the engagement at our Standard Billing Rates. Actual time incurred is calculated in 1/10th of an hour or six (6) minute intervals, at a minimum of 1/10th of an hour or six (6) minutes. These charges shall include telephone conferences and travel involved in performing the services listed in the Agreement.

90% of forensic cases have an unknown cost. Forensic accounting is centered around discovering information. New information may lead to more company involvement, and therefore the cost may increase. Therefore, exact costs are impossible to give. That being said, you can typically expect to pay $2,500 – $7,000 initial retainer for a planning consultation. Our Firm may require payment of a retainer upon execution of this Agreement. If required, you agree that the retainer will be earned as our professional time to complete the engagement is incurred. This retainer will be applied to your work-in-progress. Each time your retainer has been reduced by 75% of the original retainer amount, we may require you to replenish your account to the original retainer amount or such other amount as mutually agreed upon. After completion of this engagement and the final invoice has been issued, any unused portion of your retainer on account will be returned to you upon our collection of all outstanding fees and costs related to this engagement. Due to the time and amount of resources expensed by the Firm at the onboarding and beginning of an engagement a portion of your retainer may be non-refundable. For details regarding your retainer, please reference your engagement letter.

As mentioned above, the “unknown” factor is the biggest contributor to price variations. New information such as uncovered transfers to securities accounts and brokerage accounts as well as parties involved ("lawyers, other accountants, insurance reps, etc.") will play a role in billable hours. Be sure to disclose as much information as possible to our forensic accountants so we can give you the most accurate estimate possible.

No, the American Institute of CPAs strictly forbids their members from accepting contingency fees for their work.

Please click here to proceed. Here is an outline:

1. Intake

2. Consultation Package

3. Document Request

4. Partner Planning

5. Partner Planning Meeting with Client

6. Analysis

7. Delivery

First, tell us what your goal is. Are you looking to uncover suspicious spending or valuations? We'll typically ask clients to walk us through what assets went where and why. You'll also be asked to share bank statements, brokerage account records, and general ledgers if you're working on behalf of a business.

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.