The Statement on Standards for Forensic Services No. 1, (SSFS 1) was announced by The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in July of 2019. SSFS 1, developed by the AICPA’s Forensic and Valuation Services Executive Committee, gives better authoritative and enforceable guidance for the CPAs performing forensic accounting services. It applies to all AICPA members, AICPA member firms, and their employees.
What you need to know about SSFS 1
The new standard helps to clarify the definition of “litigation and “investigation” for accounting purposes. It also helps to establish clear boundaries on what services members can deliver.
SSFS 1 defines investigation as:
Collecting, analyzing and evaluating evidence to assist clients, the board of directors, independent auditors, or regulators in reaching a conclusion. [Source]
SSFS 1 defines litigation as:
Appearing at a regulatory proceeding as an expert witness, consultant, mediator, or arbitrator in connection with the resolution of disputes between parties. The term litigation is inclusive of all forms of alternative dispute resolution. [Source]
Anne Stalker, chair of the AICPA’s Forensic and Valuation Services Executive Committee says, “These new forensic standards are the first time we are codifying best practices for litigation and investigation consulting work.” She also goes on to state, “Forensic accounting is a diverse practice, and this standard is unique because it is applied based on why a service is provided -litigation or investigation- rather than what skill set is employed.”
Additionally, SSFS 1 also brings clarity to the following topics:
- A member acting as an expert witness, may not work under the Agreed Upon Procedures Standard.
- The judge, jury or mediator, not the member, makes the ultimate decision of fraud. However, based on an objective assessment, the member can suggest whether the evidence is consistent with fraud.
For more news relating to accounting and finance professionals, check out: The Accountants’ Code of Ethics is Under Revision.