- Adam Giliberti CA has spent almost 20 years as a forensic accountant
- He enjoys taking voluminous and complex data and turning it into a clear and concise expert opinion
- He says attention to detail, an enquiring mind, and clear communication are key skills for success
As one of the first CA members to be recognised as both a Forensic Accounting Specialist and a Business Valuation Specialist, Adam Giliberti CA has made a near-20-year career as a forensic accountant.
His interest in forensic accounting was sparked in 1996, while working in a CA firm that regularly prepared economic loss reports in personal injury litigation.
"The nature of that work was so different to what I expected an accountant would do," says Adam. "I also found I enjoyed the legal side of tax advisory work, rather than the compliance side. So having done both forensic accounting and tax work, it made a lot of sense for me to pursue the forensic accounting path after qualifying as a CA in 2000."
"I particularly liked the mystique about forensic accounting, and I've stuck with it because I have thoroughly enjoyed the work," says Adam.
Since becoming a CA, Adam's experience in forensic accounting has included working in a Big 4 firm, as well as for a government department in the UK. On returning to Australia, he worked on several high-profile, complex litigation matters for other well respected CAs, considered by the market to be leading experts.
Then, in 2012, Adam founded AVG Forensic which specialises in providing expert witness services for lawyers acting for corporations, government and individuals. The business also provides independent valuation services, often on referral from other CAs.
"I predominantly work on civil disputes where there is a fight over the amount of damages or compensation that should be awarded, or family law matters requiring identification and valuation of intangible assets and businesses."
He says that the work can be complex and stimulating.
"It's like doing a puzzle – you have to find all the relevant pieces and then put those pieces together to reveal a clear picture."
"Part of the challenge is quickly coming to grips with complex financial and legal issues and converting seemingly impenetrable and voluminous data into a concise financial opinion, with rationale that's easy for a judge and lawyer to understand."
"It's like doing a puzzle – you have to find all the relevant pieces and then put those pieces together to reveal a clear picture," he says.
While every job is different, he says over time, patterns emerge.
"That's where your experience and expertise come into play – you develop a hypothesis based on past lessons and look for evidence to prove or disprove it. You need to avoid getting drowned by the details, which can be an easy trap for a novice. Therefore, planning your work is very important."
Adam says that forensic accounting is not for the faint-hearted.
"You're often working with clients who are in highly stressful situations, and you may be reliant on your client to assist in gathering particular evidence, to provide a useful expert opinion, under a timetable you can't always fully control," says Adam.
"Sometimes your expert opinion isn't what the clients want to hear – so this needs to be very carefully managed.'
For accountants thinking about specialising in forensic accounting, he says it’s an interesting and exciting world to be in.
"It sounds very niche, but it's a diverse area of work, with lots of opportunities for forensic accountants to travel and work overseas on client matters across any industry – and you can guarantee that no two jobs will be the same," he says.
"If you have great concentration and an enquiring mind, and are a clear communicator – you'll definitely enjoy the challenges and experiences faced by a forensic account," he says.