Why do the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants work together? The main reason is to protect the public interest, according to AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA. "Both organizations are dedicated to helping business succeed," Melancon says in a recent interview. "Fraud detection and protection are important components of that mission."
Through the years, the ACFE and the AICPA have cooperated on several projects including the Institute for Fraud Prevention (www.acfe.com/fraud/view.asp?ArticleID=602), and several joint educational presentations such as the recent "Fraud and the Tone at the Top." (www.acfe.com/about/press-release-08-24-2006.asp)
But beyond the cooperative efforts, each organization offers its members (many of whom belong to both the ACFE and the AICPA) the strength of its specialties, Melancon says. "Both organizations' members are known for their competence, integrity, and experience."
Melancon spoke to Fraud Magazine from his office in New York, N.Y., as the AICPA began consolidating its operations in Durham, N.C.
What do you see as the goal of the ACFE/AICPA joint presentation of "Fraud & the Tone at the Top?"
As we all know, there is a distinct correlation between the commission of fraud and the stance taken by management, or the "tone at the top." We saw it with Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and other high-profile scandals. ACFE produced an excellent paper on the subject, "Tone at the Top: How Management Can Prevent Fraud in the Workplace." [See article by Suzanne Mahadeo here.] The objective of our joint presentation is to reinforce the understanding that everything emanates from the executive suite. If management's ethics are compromised, that attitude trickles down, and the likelihood of fraud is greater.
Twenty percent of the ACFE members are CPAs and 31 percent of all CFEs are also CPAs. How has the cooperation between the AICPA and the ACFE been beneficial for both associations and the profession? What are the strengths of both groups that can help members, the business community, and the public?
The AICPA has enjoyed a long-term working relationship with the ACFE. Both the ACFE and the AICPA share the ultimate goal: protection of the public interest. Both organizations are dedicated to helping business succeed. Fraud detection and protection are important components of that mission. We jointly founded the Institute for Fraud Prevention to produce research and education. Both organizations' members are known for their competence, integrity, and experience. They share some of the same skill sets. As you yourself note, the two organizations share members. I think that's one of the most positive aspects of our working relationship. Joe Wells [ACFE founder and Chairman] is himself a CPA. I have to say that the entire field of forensics owes a great deal to Joe for his commitment and energy.