Forensic Accountant Relies on Skills Learned Outside of the Classroom


Ryan Collins, CFE
Manager, Fraud and Investigation Dispute Services

According to Ryan Collins, CFE, Manager of Fraud and Investigation Dispute Services at EY, the most valuable career lessons he has learned were not taught in school. “Today’s market requires a forensic accountant to possess a different skillset from the traditional accountant, which means most of what you learn in your career isn’t taught inside of a classroom,” Collins said. “Analytical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to think outside the box are some of the most important skills I’ve learned over my career, and continue to employ on a daily basis.”

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 
I attended Bentley University where I earned my undergraduate degree in accounting and my MBA. I always figured when I graduated I would take a job in tax or audit. At Bentley, I took a forensic accounting course where I learned about the Enrons, WorldComs and Madoffs of the world. I was immediately hooked. I’m lucky enough to have a career where I can focus on doing well and doing a lot of good.

What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before you began your professional career? 
The one thing I wish someone would have told me before I began my career was that I was going to make mistakes and that that was okay. The first thing I tell our new staff each year is that they are going to make mistakes, probably a lot of them. The important thing when you make a mistake is that you don’t get frustrated or down on yourself. Mistakes are the most powerful learning tools there are.

What value do you see in mentorship, and what advice do you have for someone looking for a mentor? 
For me, mentorship is one of the single most important aspects of career development. I think it’s essential to find a mentor as early in your career as possible. For me, that meant finding someone who was doing the job I wanted to be doing in five years, and understanding the steps they took and the process they followed to be successful. And when I get there, it is just as important to become a mentor, and help guide others along in their careers.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on – one that made you feel especially proud? 
A few years ago I was able to perform a pro-bono engagement working with a charity in the Boston area. Early in my career, it was inspiring to see that EY wasn’t only focusing on their financial bottom line, but also the social impact they were having on the community.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?  
When I am not fighting fraud, I’m fighting a hook and a slice on the golf course. I love to play the game as much as possible, even when I can’t find a course. And, as a bonus, it’s a great way to develop business relationships.

Ready Ryan's full interview in the Career Center on