Together, Reducing Fraud Worldwide
Annette H. Perkinson, CFE, CGFM(r), NC Licensed PIFraud Examiner, Auditor & Private InvestigatorA.H. Perkinson AssociatesRaleigh, NC
In the early 1990s, the ACFE was still a young organization. Its rapidly growing membership base compelled the leaders of the Austin-based association to work quickly to add to the ACFE’s international training and resources by providing local support for anti-fraud professionals.
Annette Perkinson, CFE, CGFM(r), NC Licensed PI, remembers this time well. She was one of a handful of prominent ACFE members called upon to help provide leadership during this growing process.
“It was a new profession,” Perkinson said. “What the ACFE established… is something that was urgently needed. Many accountants didn’t know anything about fraud detection, and weren’t looking for it. Likewise, many investigators did not have the accounting/auditing background which would help them uncover fraud.”
Accountants, as well as law enforcement officials, auditors, investigators, and compliance officers, were signing up for training and becoming members of the ACFE in droves, and learning new skills to become complete fraud fighters. As a result, new ACFE chapters were being organized, and there was a need for guidance in helping them form and become established as effective local arms of the organization.
A leadership model that the ACFE put into place for a period in the mid-1990s involved electing regional governors – one each for the east, west and central regions of the U.S., as well as governors for Canada, New Zealand and Australia (including three of the latter who were appointed). The governors would help guide chapters through their formation period, and also ensure that chapter leaders were working together in a cohesive way to provide a positive member experience across the board.
Perkinson, who was president and training director of the Central Carolina Chapter and also served as chair of a major ACFE task force, was elected to serve as the second Eastern Regional Governor for the ACFE. She recalls: “We were there to support the chapters, to help them get started.” There were rules about the financial aspects of chapter formation, the appointment/election of officers, how to organize successful events – all of these things had to be put on the table and communicated effectively.
“In 1995 I decided it would be best to get the chapter presidents all together in Washington D.C. before the ACFE Annual Fraud Conference. Presidents of most of the 23 chapters in the Eastern Region showed up,” Perkinson said. “We talked about a need for consistency and continuity, establishing rules, and periodic reporting to ACFE.”
“We formed a plan. It was very successful - it was a great meeting,” Perkinson said. She finally felt that everyone was moving forward on the same page, and working together toward a common goal of providing the best service and events possible for members at the local and regional levels.
During the time of the Regional Governors, the ACFE was also able to facilitate communication between the chapters themselves, and help them work effectively with each other.
“I think the concept of Regional Governors was really good… it was very beneficial for the chapters and for the ACFE,” Perkinson said. “The idea of training director came during this period. The Chapter position was to provide information and get ACFE approval for subjects and speakers at local seminars and these had to be approved by ACFE in order to qualify for ACFE and NASBA continuing education credits,”
Chapters were required to have relevant fraud training in their events. Perkinson recalls: “We did not want solicitors; we insisted the presentations and speakers follow the fraud deterrent and detection format. I often think when I am working on a case I couldn’t have known how to proceed without my CFE background and training. I attended many of the ACFE symposiums in Austin and at annual conferences, but the Chapter training and presentations were invaluable. We were lucky in our chapter to be in the State Capital and have access to experts in many anti-fraud professions, and they were willing to speak at our chapter meetings.”
The Regional Governors model is a part of ACFE history – it was designed to help the organization get through a transitional growth period, and was phased out in the late 1990s after the chapter network had become established and a successful framework put into place. Perkinson looks back at those pivotal years as something in which she is proud to have taken part.
Perkinson, from Raleigh, N.C., was an auditor with the State Auditor’s Office during that time. Now in private practice, she has worked countless fraud cases during her career, and she has made a study of the factors and behaviors that define fraudsters.
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