The path from Marquette undergraduate to forensic accounting expert was an unexpected one for Tracy Coenen. But she hadn’t counted on a chance semester of Financial Criminal Investigations and the impression left by her professor, a former IRS special agent.
“It was somewhat accidental and somewhat not,” Coenen said. Her professor explained the intricacies of financial investigations and how these cases could be cracked using techniques of accounting, as opposed to street maneuvers. Intrigued by the class content, Coenen, then majoring in criminology and law studies, used all her elective credits to take business and accounting classes to carve out a niche for her newfound interest. “That’s what got me interested in it, and then I had to figure out how to get into the private sector.”
After a start with Arthur Andersen, Coenen set out on her own, founding Sequence Inc. more than a decade ago and using it as a vehicle to build her brand and increase her caseload. Today, operating out of Chicago and Milwaukee with nearly 20 years of accounting and and investigation experience under her belt, Coenen tackles big ticket asset searches and investigations for diverse clients, averaging more than 40 cases per year at her one-person firm. She has authored two books, Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide and Essentials of Corporate Fraud. She also writes Fraud Files, a regular column for the Wisconsin Law Journal.