SMU’s School of Accountancy launches a new second major in Financial Forensics to address industry needs

By the SMU Corporate Communications team

Singapore, 5 February 2020 (Wednesday) – The Singapore Management University’s (SMU) School of Accountancy (SoA) will be offering a second major in Financial Forensics for its undergraduates with effect from August 2020.

According to a Refinitiv study last year, 82% of Singapore companies surveyed fell victim to financial crime over a 12-month period (circa February 2018 to March 2019)  and this was higher than 75% of companies surveyed across Asia-Pacific. With the growing complexity and rise in financial crimes  and fraud scandals, the role of accounting professionals in protecting businesses becomes critical.

Accounting professionals working in forensic and related areas are in demand. According to the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), Financial Forensics is identified as one of the high-growth practice areas.  In 2017, there were about 1,000 financial forensic professionals working in both public and private sectors, including the law-enforcement agencies and financial sector and demand for such professionals is expected to increase.  Today, forensic teams in major accounting and consulting firms are offering a suite of services, which include solutions such as corporate intelligence, forensic due diligence analysis, and data security, to help clients reduce operational risk and commercial loss.

Cheng Qiang, Dean, School of Accountancy and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Accounting, SMU said, “With the rise of the digital economy, accountants need to hone their skills in specific areas like forensic accounting and digital forensics to combat the rise and complexity in fraudulent activities. We believe that it is timely to equip our students with the critical skills to play the important role in detecting and preventing financial crime.  We want our graduates to hone their competitive advantage and to seize opportunities to advance their careers.”  

Second major in Financial Forensics 

The structure of the SMU second major in Financial Forensics is designed based on feedback received from industry stakeholders and senior level industry practitioners. Courses under this second major equip students with advanced accounting knowledge, in-depth understanding of the audit process, as well as cultivate the discerning mindset required to effectively prevent and detect fraud. 

Students will acquire three domains of knowledge, a) advanced accounting technical competency, b) technology and analytics capability, and c) fundamental legal understanding in related areas. Armed with this cross-disciplinary knowledge, SMU Accountancy students will be able to perform higher-level tasks that are increasingly expected of the next generation of accounting professionals. It will also provide more career pathways to accounting graduates. 

Course Structure:

Compulsory (5 modules) Electives (any 3 modules)
  • Forensic Accounting and Investigation
  • Internal Audit (SMU-X)
  • Financial Crime
  • Data Management
  • Forecasting and Forensic Analytics
  • Insolvency and Restructuring
  • Data Modelling and Visualisation
  • Audit Analytics (SMU-X)
  • Auditing Information Systems (SMU-X)
  • Foundations of Cybersecurity
  • Law of Evidence
  • Dispute Resolution: The Role of Experts


The first offering will be in August 2020 and SMU undergraduates can opt to take this second major by the end of their second year of study if they have fulfilled pre-requisite modules. 

More information can be found at

Strong Industry Support

SMU engaged 38 industry stakeholders (employers of our graduates) and professionals (including SoA alumni), from the Big Four accounting firms, consulting firms, corporations, major banks and regulatory agencies.

Employers have expressed support to the School’s plan to offer a second major in Financial Forensics. Besides being employed in a forensic department, employers have voiced that students with the forensic mindset will be valuable in the departments of external audit, internal audit, risk management or compliance.

Other career pathways include investigation and litigation support at regulatory agencies such as the Singapore Police Force’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. Legal firms are also hiring talents in this area.

“In this global era of heightened scrutiny against criminal laundering activities and the desire to stamp out financial crime, there is no better time than now to learn and master the hot skills of forensics investigations and risk assurance. As financial institutions continuously build up their defences and implement ongoing controls to guard against financial crime, persons armed with these hot skills are primely ready to take their place at these financial institutions to join the fight against global financial crime.”
Loretta Yuen, Group General Counsel - Group Legal & Regulatory Compliance, OCBC

“Accounting professionals are in the front line of protecting their organisations from fraud, and responding to fraud when it happens.  SMU’s new accounting second major in Financial Forensics is a timely addition to enhance the capabilities of new members of the profession.”
Owen Hawkes, Partner, Forensic and General Counsel, KPMG

“Highly relevant to the financial industry, Financial Forensics provides a strong foundation for career opportunities in financial crime analysis and investigation.”
Victor Ngo, Head, Group Compliance, UOB

“Forensic accounting is a rapidly growing specialism, but one that requires a unique mindset. Developing this mindset takes time, and only comes with study and experience. Studying financial forensic techniques, applications and cases at university represents a great starting point.”
Richard Hayler, Partner, Deloitte Forensic APAC, Southeast Asia Disputes and Arbitration Leader