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A Forensic Accountant's Take on "The Accountant"

A Forensic Accountant's Take on "The Accountant"

Ben Affleck’s new movie, which follows the latest case and life of a mild-mannered forensic accountant, is spot-on.

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[Spoiler alert!]  Numbers, dry-erase markers, money laundering, not getting the girl because of social awkwardness and high-powered sniper rifles…how accurate can you get! Though I saw no disclaimers regarding the film being based upon a true story, Ben Affleck’s new movie, which follows the latest case and life of a mild-mannered forensic accountant, is spot-on.  Not since Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption” or that “American Graffiti” dude who busts Al Capone for tax evasion in “The Untouchables” have we accountants been shown in such a glamorous light!  Yes, the days of being compared to “Office Space” accountant Milton or Norm on “Cheers” are over, my friends. 

I’ve had the film’s release date on my calendar for months and have been giddy since its first trailer, so my friends were prepared.  They warned me to contain myself in the theatre, because like most doctors or attorneys watching movies about their profession they expected me to yell things like, “Aww, come on…that’s totally not how we crunch the numbers!”  or, “He’s got the debits and credits reversed…how fake!”  But I kept my composure throughout and it was technically sound, for the most part.

While it didn’t have as many spreadsheets or inside CPA jokes as I’d hoped, the movie did have a decent storyline centering around a corporate fraud investigation and the financial crime task force trying to find out who this mysterious forensic accountant was—living in Plainfield, Illinois, and shooting melons on a farm, yet circling the globe and being spotted with all kinds of high-profile shady types. His reputation as an accounting genius lands him a job within a booming medical robotics company investigating fraud, which was discovered internally by a corporate staff accountant. Of course, he figures it all out in one day, which will set future expectations of clients a bit high—so please realize, he is an accounting savant. The film also contains a few surprising twists, solid supporting characters and some sweet ninja moves.

All in all, even if the movie does blow our cover on what we do in and out of the office, I really did enjoy “The Accountant,” as I suspected I would.  I (1) thought Ben Affleck did a wicked-good job as the title character, (2) anticipate the enrollment in college forensic accounting classes will skyrocket accordingly and (3) have already set an alert on my Fandango account for any news regarding, “The Accountant 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

For more insight on forensic accounting, see my regular blog at http://www.lindquistcpa.com/blog/

Author: Richard C. Gordon, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE, CGMA, Director of Forensic and Valuation Services

 

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