How has earning the CFE credential benefited you in your career?
Earning the CFE credential has contributed tremendously to my career. One reason is that the preparation to obtain the credential is a valuable training and learning experience. Today, the CFE credential is a requirement for most positions in this line of work (just as a CPA or a CFA in accounting or finance) and most need it to stay competitive in their field. Also, the requirement of continuous education ensures that CFEs keep track of current trends and developments while providing employers a certain comfort level.
What trends are you currently seeing in fraud investigations? Do you see any trends specific to your region?
Crime has — unfortunately — gone global. In my view, the primary differences in diverse regions are the different cultures and value systems, not so much the modi operandi, although the state of technological development can make a difference.
Fraud and financial crimes are becoming more and more complex — as far as the schemes and tools, but also where the legal challenges (e.g. data protection and privacy laws in different jurisdictions) are concerned. In particular the risk of high-tech crimes is constantly increasing. One of the challenges associated with this trend is that today a large set of skills is needed. This includes specialists with legal, accounting, information technology, fraud examination, law enforcement and other backgrounds to successfully detect but also prevent fraud. This requires a team approach, often across borders.
What were some of the more challenging tasks you've faced as a CFE?
There are many challenges a CFE faces every day. However, in my experience, it is often less the task itself but more the constraints and surrounding circumstances that can be challenging. Managing expectations of stakeholders, management and whistleblowers can be far more challenging than the investigation itself. The other challenges are resources. With appropriate resources — be those financial or human — almost any financial investigation can lead to good results, but resource constraints and cost/benefit considerations can jeopardize investigations. Also, time constraints, often in combination with scarce resources, create challenges. Lastly, legal and political challenges in the form of restricting requirements or conflicting interests can hamper investigative progress.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow a similar career path?
There are many good programs out there. Taking the CFE Exam Prep Course® and CFE Exam is a prerequisite, but there are many other interesting webinars, modules, trainings and courses. Continuous education is paramount. The other necessities are determination and persistence. Being a CFE is not just another job. You also need an inquisitive mind, and to be thorough and detailed to be successful. If you don't like details and are not passionate about this job, this career might not be for you. However, if you enjoy all of that, you will never get bored. You will have a rewarding job and a promising career.
What do you consider your greatest career achievement?
The satisfaction in this job comes from what we achieve through our investigations. For me, this is not about putting someone behind bars (although more often than not, this is the consequence of our work). The findings of investigations often initiate change for improvement of how we’ve done things in the past. If my investigations resulted in beneficiaries getting what they were promised, changing the way we do business and doing it better, preventing stakeholders from losses and raising the bar for fraud and corruption to occur, that makes me happy.
What role does networking play in your professional career?
Networking, just as in any other job, is important. Not only can it help progress and discover new career opportunities, but networking is also important to learn, share experiences and knowledge, and benchmark oneself and one's company with peers. This makes us better CFEs and provides the necessary skills and resources to conduct and manage successful investigations. Therefore, I would encourage regular participation at conferences, forums and trainings as important platforms to keep up with ongoing trends and developments, to meet old friends and to make new ones.
ACFE membership is open to individuals of all job functions, industries and levels of experience who are interested in the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud. If you want to level up your anti-fraud career, we can help.