Career Center: Just Starting Out
Khristi Ferguson, CFE
Director, Internal Audit
Bahamas Government, Ministry of Finance
“Where do I begin?” “What is the first step?” “How do I get from where I am to where I want to be?” These are all questions new CFEs ask themselves when they are choosing a specialized field, applying for anti-fraud positions or looking for the role that fits just right. To Khristi Ferguson, CFE, Director of Internal Audit for the Bahamas Government, the recipe for finding a career that rewards and propels you forward is a combination of skills, experience and perseverance. “The [CFE] credential signifies that one has a high comprehension for the detection and prevention of fraud. And experience is the best way to obtain additional knowledge and build upon different skill sets,” Ferguson says. “You also need to stay eager and hungry for knowledge. Persevere and you will see the fruits of your labor.”
What made you decide to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)?
I decided to become a CFE due to the nature of my work as an auditor, and because of the pervasiveness of fraud. After realizing the global recognition of the CFE credential, and the overall increase in fraud, it was only fitting that I become a CFE.
What impact has being a member of the ACFE had on you personally and professionally?
The ACFE has assisted in my professional development through the acquisition of skill sets that would not have been obtained from other professional organizations. Additionally, my network has increased, which has afforded me the opportunity to liaise with and obtain practical solutions from my ACFE colleagues. Moreover, the ACFE has kept me informed of current global trends and provided me with the tools necessary to perform my duties. From a personal standpoint, I am constantly reminded of the importance of ethics in my everyday life. I usually ask myself, “Tomorrow, would I be proud of my actions displayed today?”Individuals that are not a part of the ACFE are doing a grave injustice to themselves by missing out on a vast array of opportunities that would propel their career and personal development. My ACFE membership has propelled my professional development and career. It is said, “a good workman is known by his tools.” My tool is my membership.
How has earning the CFE credential benefited you in your career?
By earning the CFE credential, I am recognized as a proficient and skilled practitioner who has earned the respect and confidence of various colleagues and senior management. In addition, I am equipped to handle various fraud scenarios and potential fraudulent activities.
In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities for CFEs today?
From a regional standpoint, one of the biggest challenges is the collection of statistical data and case studies. There are vast amounts of fraud cases and fraudulent activities, however, access to that information is either restricted or not documented. Another challenge is the lack of legislative or government support for protecting informants and individual sources that play a key role in exposing fraudulent activities. Many more frauds would be uncovered if the appropriate legislation was enacted. With regard to opportunities, CFEs are at a great advantage! There is no industry, sector or form of business that is exempt from fraud or the potential for fraudulent activities. As a result, the need and demand for CFEs is increasing and will continue to increase.
How important do you find the relationship between auditors and other executives at a company? What are some ways that you interact with your co-workers?
The relationship between auditors and other executives at a company is extremely important. The executives of the company, typically senior management, are responsible for the direction of the company. To do this, senior management needs to be fully aware of any potential, perceived and actual deficiencies/risks that can harm the growth and development of the entity. The auditors, who are the second line of defense for a company, are in an excellent position to alert senior management to such events.
What are some ways you’ve been able to apply your CFE training to your job?
From a governance standpoint, I have been able to create a greater awareness for setting a positive “tone at the top” with senior management as well as increasing the awareness of the pervasiveness of fraud.
What do you consider your greatest career achievement?
My greatest career achievement to date is assisting in the development of other CFEs and future auditors. Being able to assist in an individual’s professional development based on the training and experience I received is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have. By assisting in a promising CFE’s development, I am assisting in the fight against fraud and creating a greater awareness of fraud.
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