The value of a corporate investigator has never been clearer. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it is estimated that nearly 75 percent of employees steal from the workplace. Other recent statistics are just as shocking: According to the Department of Justice, a typical organization loses about 5 percent of its annual revenue due to employee fraud and litigation resulting from employee misconduct costs employers in the U.S. billions of dollars each year.
Corporate investigators—also often referred to as financial investigators and fraud investigators— expertly examine and scrutinize business operations and are revered by corporations and organizations seeking to curtail fraud, embezzlement, and misconduct.
In addition to internal theft and fraud, corporate investigators are often called upon to do everything from perform due diligence investigations on shareholders and business partners to investigate outside companies to determine whether mergers and acquisitions make financial sense.
From investigating cases of intellectual property theft to performing criminal inquiries and background investigations on new hires, corporate fraud investigator jobs remain incredibly relevant in today’s complex business environment.
Corporate investigators may perform standard corporate monitoring services, such as Internet monitoring, media monitoring and brand monitoring, and they often perform compliance audits to ensure operations, practices and procedures are being followed at all business locations and sites. These professionals often investigate businesses that work for or alongside a company to ensure they are conducting proper business practices and are representing the company in a safe and effective manner.
The work performed by corporate investigators may be able to help companies save money; avoid financial disaster; collect evidence in an effort to prosecute and/or receive financial compensation; and hire and retain an outstanding management team and workforce.
Corporate Investigators in the Business World
Corporate investigators are becoming quite commonplace among businesses and organizations seeking to protect their brand, keep an eye on their competition, and maintain current information on their position in the marketplace. Many larger corporations and organizations have internal corporate investigators, while others keep them on retainer. It is common for corporate investigators to travel to a corporation’s business operations across the country and across the globe.
Corporate investigators within an organization or business may be called upon to curtail internal theft and fraud, deal with sexual harassment issues, or keep a close eye on overseas operations.
Many companies turn to corporate investigators to perform this work, as these professionals have the knowledge and skills to expertly and legally uncover and gather information that may be admissible in court, if necessary.
Corporate investigators serve to protect businesses from financial losses through:
- Due diligence
- Corporate profiling
- Corporate and business analysis
- Asset tracing
- Record research investigation
- Employee integrity
- Pre-employment screening
- Counter surveillance
- Security risk analysis
- Intellectual property infringement
They are also responsible for finding and recovering evidence when dealing with issues such as:
- Breach of contract
- Wrongful termination
- Data theft
- Data misappropriation
- Sexual harassment
- Trade secret misappropriation
Education and Training for Corporate Fraud Investigators
Although there is no single educational path to becoming a corporate investigator, the majority of employers require these professionals to possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field. Many corporate investigators also possess graduate degrees in business administration, accounting, fraud investigation, finance, and communications. It is also common for accountants to pursue careers as corporate investigators.
Regardless of the college or university degree, corporate investigators must have some type of formal training in the areas of management structure, business practices, and finance as to best understand corporate structure and operations.
Corporate investigators, in general, must be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensing requirements, although they vary from one state to the next, include minimum education and experience, and many states require these professionals to pass a written examination and pass a background check prior to being licensed.
Salary and Employment Statistics for Corporate Investigators
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the number of certified fraud examiners has increased 72 percent from 2007 to 2013. It is also estimated that the number of corporate investigators has increased 20 to 25 percent since 2010.
Although statistics on corporate investigators aren’t readily available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of May 2010, private investigators earned a median annual salary of $42,870, with the top 10 percent earning more than $74,970.