Skip to Main Content

Forensic Accountants and Auditors

History

People have used accounting and bookkeeping procedures for as long as they have engaged in trade. Records of accounts have been preserved from ancient and medieval times.

Modern bookkeeping dates back to the advent of double-entry bookkeeping, a method of tracking the impact of transactions on both a company's assets and profitability. Double-entry bookkeeping was developed in medieval Italy. The earliest known published work about this system was written in 1494 by an Italian monk named Luca Pacioli. Pacioli did not invent the system, but he did summarize principles that remain largely unchanged today.

Records preserved from 16th century Europe indicate that formulations were developed during that time to account for assets, liabilities, and income. When the Industrial Revolution swept through the world in the 18th century, accounting became even more sophisticated to accommodate the acceleration of financial transactions caused by mechanization and mass production.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, accounting has become a more creative and interesting discipline. Computers now perform many routine computations, while accountants tend to spend more time interpreting the results. Many accountants now hold senior management positions within large organizations. They assess the possible impact of various transactions, mergers, and acquisitions and help companies manage their employees more efficiently.

While people have probably investigated financial records for as long as people have kept accounts, forensic accounting did not emerge as a distinct area of specialty until quite recently. The increased litigation and white-collar crime that emerged in the 1980s (and continues today) has contributed to rapid growth in this field.

Related Professions