Andi McNeal, CFE, CPA
ACFE Research Director
One of the most common requests the ACFE Research Department receives is for best practices in setting up an effective anti-fraud program within an organization. Clearly, this is a broad request, and the answer involves exploring several channels. But my response nearly always begins with “educate the staff.” An informed staff — made up of individuals who are on board and proactively involved in fighting fraud — provides the necessary foundation for an anti-fraud program. Conversely, skipping this step reduces the effectiveness of other anti-fraud measures and runs the risk of undermining the organization’s claims of taking fraud seriously.
Our research reinforces the importance of targeted fraud awareness training, like the events many companies are hosting this week, as part of an overall anti-fraud program. The ACFE's 2012 Report to the Nations shows what happens when organizations implement training programs at all levels: Organizations that had anti-fraud training programs in place experienced fraud losses that were one-third lower and lasted half as long as organizations that lacked such an initiative. Additionally, fraud awareness programs can be an effective control even in companies with limited resources; with proper planning, the costs can be limited to the time it takes to develop and hold the training.
But the messaging and approach of the training program has to be right for the information to resonate with the staff. For example, the fraud risks, cultures and operating realities of a 40-person software development firm are very different than those of a multi-national financial institution. Using the same generic anti-fraud program within these two companies would do little to properly educate the staff on what they really need to know to help in the fight against fraud.
So how can organizations make sure they’re hitting the most important and relevant points in their training programs? Who should be required to attend? How often should anti-fraud training be held? How long should the program be? Is it necessary to have a live instructor, or are informal methods of raising fraud awareness sufficient? To answer these questions and in honor of Fraud Week, we’ve developed “Designing an Effective Anti-Fraud Program,” a PDF resource specifically designed to assist you in honing their fraud awareness messaging and ensuring the efficient use of anti-fraud training resources. We hope this guide helps you get the word out during Fraud Week and throughout the other 51 weeks of the year.