- Callum Hey CA has spent his career preventing financial and tax fraud.
- He says it’s rewarding to help protect people from the financial impacts of scammers and fraud.
- Hey is the Current Chair of NZ’s Forensic Accounting Special Interest Group.
Callum Hey CA didn’t set out to be a forensic accountant, but by following his interests he found a career he’s passionate about. After leaving school, Hey completed a double major, specialising in Accounting and IT.
“At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was a technology guy interested in accounting or an accountant with an interest in IT,” he says.
He took a job with NZ Inland Revenue (IR) investigating tax fraud. He found he really loved the work, becoming more involved in providing fraud-prevention policy advice right up to the national level.
Hey decided to further his expertise by doing a Master’s of Forensic Accounting at the University of Wollongong in Australia.
“Completing the Master’s made me realise that the field was much broader than just tax or fraud,” he says. “It opened my eyes to the wider world.”
To explore his new horizons, Hey took a sabbatical from NZ IR to work for Deloitte in Melbourne in civil investigation. Then he returned to NZ IR to share his skills as a trainer, investigator and adviser. Before long he took a role with a small firm in Wellington, implementing supervision and risk management across managed funds.
While he says this role was a great opportunity, it was further removed from financial crimes than he wanted to be. So when a position came up in Westpac’s financial crimes area, he jumped at the chance.
“I was called back for a second interview – not for the job I’d applied for, but for the role I would have reported to,” says Hey.
Subsequently, he implemented a sophisticated new system and operational approach to help the bank manage financial fraud.
You’re protecting the money of people like us every day, building systems that manage and look after their money, protecting them from scams.
“When we proposed the new model to management, they initially said ‘no’ because they didn’t believe the technology would be able to deliver. But we literally got a rocket scientist to help us build and deploy new and more efficient artificial intelligence models, which was an incredibly effective and innovative way to use technology to detect fraud.”
Hey says the work has been extremely rewarding. “I feel like I’m making a difference,” he says.
“You’re protecting the money of people like us every day, building systems that manage and look after their money, protecting them from scams.”
Hey has been involved with the CA ANZ Forensic Accounting Special Interest Group since its early days in Wellington, and later in Auckland, and is the 2019 committee Chair. The group aims to provide a forum for forensic accounting specialists to share expertise and learn more about the latest risks in an ever-evolving risk universe.
For accountants wishing to specialise in forensic accounting, he says the best way is to dive right in.
“Get started – talk to someone who’s already in the field, and just get involved.”