CFE Exam Coach Newsletter


Q and A with Paul Vanek, CFE


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Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
Vanek: I was certified on March 8, 2013.


Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Houston, and following the course, you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the 3½-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.
Vanek: I actually sat for each part of the Exam at the end of each day. Overall, the Review Course was a great reinforcement of my preparation from the Prep-Course. Although there is a lot of information covered in the Review Course, it was my success factor in passing each part of the exam that I took on-site.


Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?
Vanek: Since I have my CPA, CIA, and CISA credentials, the financial, controls, and IT sections were more of a review. I really enjoyed learning the materials from the Investigation and Law sections since I was not exposed to those areas in my other credentials. Additionally, the instructors brought an additional depth to those areas by teaching from their experiences. That added dimension is something that you cannot receive from the Prep Course alone.


I will add this; I do not think someone can pass the exams with the Review Course alone. There is too much information to know for passing the Exams. The Review Course is not enough preparation. The Review Course should be used in conjunction with your preparation by completing the Prep Course for passing the Exam.


Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
Vanek: My CFE credential has already brought some positive perceptions to my consultancy practice, and I see it as another valuable tool in my toolbox, along with my other professional certifications (CPA, CGMA, CIA, CRMA, CISA). My CFE credential is very complementary to my other certifications and will allow for a greater depth and breadth of client service.


Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?
Vanek: I used the Review Course exactly as a "review course." I spent the two weeks prior to the Review Course completing the Prep Course. It was a challenge to do that, but I wanted to use the Review Course to reinforce my preparation for the Exam. Because I was able to complete the Prep-Course before the Review Course, I recognized most of the materials in the Review Course from the Prep Course. This was reinforcement and aided me greatly.


Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Vanek: I chose this Review Course primarily for the location. I purchased the Prep Course in 2009 and had planned to take the Review Course in Austin. However, something kept me from travelling and attending the Review Course in Austin each year. When I learned of the Houston course, I was determined to attend. That created a sense of urgency to complete the Prep Course and attend the Review Course. Since taking the Prep and Review Course, I have been talking with colleagues about pursuing the CFE credential. In fact, one friend was so "inspired" that I completed the courses and passed the exams that he took the time to complete the Prep Course and recently passed the Exam. Hopefully, the Review Course will be given in Houston at least every other year as the population of the Houston MSA is greater than 5 million and Houston is a hub to at least 2 major airlines (United and Southwest).


Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?
Vanek: As life is already full with family, career, and outside activities, I suggest that an aspiring CFE create some sense of urgency for obtaining the CFE credential. I talked to many CFE candidates at the Review Course that like me had purchased the Prep Course years before actually taking the Review Course. With good intentions, I purchased the Prep Course in 2009 but did not get serious until 2013.


Once a candidate gets serious, I strongly suggest developing a plan and timeline to complete and pass the Exam. The Prep Course is a great tool, but it can be overwhelming at first glance. One of my favorite sayings is, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" I liked that the Prep Course allows you to break up your study and preparation in small bites by completing an individual topic (e.g., Evidence) within each overall section (e.g., Law) rather than having to complete an overall section at one time.


Finally, have confidence in your preparation from the Prep Course (and Review Course) when taking the Exam. If your preparation is complete, you will pass the Exam.



Coach: Thank you for your time and congratulations on your new CFE credential.