Careers in Corporate Investigations
If you fancy yourself a Columbo or Poirot type character when it comes to your chosen career, then corporate investigations may be just the ticket. Closely related to the field of IT Forensics, Corporate Investigations is similarly routed in the fundamentals of detective work. Of course, it is far more complex than that simple analogy and when you look at the specialist areas that fall under investigative careers, those in the corporate sphere must apply those detective skills together with an understanding of corporate policy and structure in order to solve cases of corporate fraud and misconduct.
A corporate investigator will face everything from criminal fraud, information leaks, accounting irregularities, electronic crime, embezzlement and even drug use in his or her line of work and as a result, when stepping into a corporate investigations job one must have the proper training. Those who enter the field, tend to come from backgrounds as diverse as public law enforcement, audit and accountancy, insurance claims investigations and financial examiner roles.
As exciting and rewarding as other strains of investigative work, but without being riddled with as many risks, the employment forecast for corporate investigations is very positive. By 2018, the number of job opportunities in corporate investigations is expected to grow by 22% with salary expectations to match, though this of course is entirely dependent on employer, experience and location.
A career that expects you to think and act outside of the box, corporate investigations involve activities both within an organisation and externally. The former will see an investigator combing through expense accounts for any abnormalities, monitoring drug abuse within the workforce and detecting any other suspicious activities committed by employees or on company premises. Meanwhile, the external side of the investigation observes allegations of any fraudulent actions taken by customers or suppliers to the corporation, or any other criminal activities exercised outside of the company.
When it comes to jobs in corporate investigations, employers are looking for a particular set of skills that account for both technical expertise as well as personal capabilities, such as having the patience and determination to carry out an extensive investigation from start to finish. From having the people skills required to effectively assess the people you’re interviewing to having the technical know-how to examine accounting and computer records; employers are looking for a corporate investigator who will approach a case from every imaginable angle.
Hiring managers are certainly looking for those candidates with experience in business analysis, a good understanding of corporate practices, proficiency with financial statements and records, experience with fraud detection or in criminal justice when recruiting for corporate investigations jobs. Therefore business degrees or those that tackle political science or criminal justice are definitely valuable to an individual progressing towards a career in this space, and though it is not essential, corporate investigators, particularly with a view to specialising in computer forensics or financial investigations, will complete additional education and obtain the relevant certifications, such as a CPA or MA in Computer Science or IT Forensics, for their practice.
Education is one thing, but candidates intent on becoming successful corporate investigators, particularly those working in computer forensics, need also stay attuned to new developments, from business technologies to new regulations due to be implemented. A huge part of this job is acknowledging the need for continued education and training to apply relevant knowledge, experience and understanding to every case you undertake.
With the option of going down either the private or public sector routes when it comes to applying for jobs in corporate investigations, it’s worth considering which suits your personality more. Within the private sphere, firms such as Kroll and K2 are regularly looking to hire investigators with permanent and internship opportunities spread out across the globe from North and Latin America to EMEA and Asia. Internships at smaller firms are a great way to get a foot in the door and accrue work experience and on the job training so crucial to this line of work. There is also the option of joining an internal investigation team within an organisation, as many will have investigators on retainer.
Corporate investigations jobs in the public sector will likely be found at federal organisations and bureaus, such as police and government departments and city councils. Typically in the public space, greenhorn or newbie investigators will be partnered with experienced colleagues to give them on the job training in matters of finance, business practice and management training core to solving cases.