There are many reasons you may like to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).
A Certified Fraud Examiner, as the name suggests, is there to try and detect and ideally prevent fraud from taking place. CFEs understand how fraud can be committed and can examine a company or business’s financial records and statements to detect the presence of fraud.
A CFE may also be able to assist in cases where there is suspected employee theft, or where other types of fraud, such as insurance fraud, are suspected to be occurring.
A CFE can work in a variety of industries, although they can commonly be seen within the:
- Financial services; and
- Government sectors.
What’s more, the kind of roles that a CFE may occupy varies. For instance, a CFE could be:
- A fraud investigator or analyst;
- A management consultant;
- A forensic accountant; or
- An internal or external auditor, although there are many other positions available to CFEs.
To become a CFE, you first have to join the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Thereafter, you will have to pass the CFE exam, which is described in further detail below.
The ACFE describes itself as “the world’s largest anti-fraud organisation” and anyone looking to further their career within the world of fraud examination should consider whether they should become CFE certified.
Although the ACFE is based in the United States, the organisation has chapters all across the globe, including a chapter in the UK, which is known as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners UK Chapter.
If you live in the UK, then you still have to initially join the US association of the ACFE. Once you have completed all the necessary requirements to become a CFE and are awarded the qualification and membership, then you also become part of the UK chapter of the ACFE. There are over 1,000 members of the UK chapter.
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What Are The CFE Exams?
Understandably, to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) you need to pass specific exams, given the specialised nature of work that fraud examiners undertake.
Before you can undertake the CFE exam, you have to become an ACFE member and also apply to sit the CFE exam.
When it comes to the exam itself, there are four specific areas that candidates are tested on:
- Fraud prevention and deterrence;
- Financial transactions and fraud schemes;
- Investigation; and
Across the four areas, a variety of topics are covered, ranging from professional ethics to why people commit fraud, the types of fraudulent transactions you might find in accounting records, the rights of the accused, and how to take statements from people.
When it comes to preparing for the exam, there are a number of ways you can do so. For example, you could choose to take the CFE Exam Prep course, which is a computer-based way to study for the exam that comes with a variety of practice questions and exams to help get you ready for exam day.
Join the discussion: is the CPA exam easier than the CFE?
Alternatively, if you prefer to attend a course in-person, there is the CFE Exam Review course, which runs over a four day period. In the UK, you can usually find an authorised third-party who is licenced to run the course, so you don’t have to travel to the United States to take part in one.
Finally, there is the option to self-study for the CFE through the Fraud Examiners Manual. You’ll need to be able to find the time to commit to going through the manual, which is around 2,000 pages long. However, if you prefer learning at your own pace with an accounting tutor, and feel dedicated enough to pursuing the CFE on your own, then you may prefer this learning option.
It may be difficult to decide which route of study and revision is the best for you, but hopefully, you should have gained an idea of how you like to study and revise based on your experiences at school or university. Even if you're still unsure, there's no harm in asking someone who recently studied for the CFE what their learning experience was like, and asking whether they would recommend a particular way for you to study.
Once you’ve decided how you would like to prepare for the CFE exam and you feel sufficiently prepped, the next step is to actually sit the exam! The CFE exam can either be downloaded or accessed online through a web browser. It’s worth noting that the exam is closed-book, so you need to ensure that you have memorised all the key knowledge you’ll need to pass the exam before you attempt it.
Once you’ve completed the exam, you should be emailed the results within three to five business days, which makes the whole process very quick, especially compared to some other qualifications, where it can take five weeks or more to find out your exam results!
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What Happens If I Fail?
Unfortunately, while we would all like to pass exams the first time, it doesn’t always happen.
In order to pass the CFE exam, you have to pass all four areas within the exam. Therefore, if you fail one area, you will have to retake the exam. Thankfully, if you do have to re-sit the exam, you only have to retake the areas that you originally failed.
What’s more, the ACFE gives you “three attempts to pass all four sections of the CFE Exam” so you should have plenty of opportunities to successfully pass the exam!
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Are There Any Other Requirements To Become a CFE?
Aside from the examination requirements, there are also professional and educational requirements that would need to be met before you could become a CFE.
Further details are available on the ACFE website.
How Do I Know If I Should Become a CFE?
Ultimately, only you can make the decision of whether becoming a CFE is the right choice. If you have any doubts at all, it’s always in your best interest to speak to a careers adviser for their input, and you can often find careers advisers at your local school, university, or perhaps within the wider community.
Equally, to get a feel for whether a role as a CFE would be right for you, it’s always helpful to speak to someone that already works as a CFE. This way, you can ask questions such as whether they enjoy the job they currently have, what their day to day work entails, how they found the examinations, and where they see their career in the future.
Hearing someone else’s first-hand experience can then help you see whether a career as a CFE would align with your own career ambitions and long-term goals.
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While getting the right advice is crucial for any would-be CFE, it’s also important to bear in mind that, until you work as a CFE, you won’t know how you personally will react to being in the job. You may find that the type of work you perform is different from what you expected, or equally, you could find your role even more interesting than you previously thought.
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There are some traits that successful CFEs usually have. Whether you have some of the below qualities may give an indication of whether a career as a CFE is suitable for you:
- Strong analytical skills;
- Good communication skills, including good listening skills;
- An understanding of technology; and
- An ability to understand how a business operates, and where crucial information can be found.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and the actual skills that you need to succeed as a CFE should very much depend on the role you actually have and the industry that you work in.
However, if you’d like to improve some of the above skills, or would like to bolster other related skills, such as your numerical ability, then you may also consider hiring a Superprof tutor to help get your numeracy up to speed.
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Superprof has a range of tutors with experience in teaching subjects as diverse as accounting, mathematics, business, and economics, to art and history. So it's never been easier to leverage from Superprof's wide network of experienced tutors.
It’s just a case of entering your postcode to find local tutors who would be happy to help you improve your numerical skills or understanding of wider economic or business matters. Tutors within your local area can either visit you in person for a one on one lesson, or equally some tutors are happy to offer group tuition services.
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