Mitchel Huffman, CFE, works as a staff accountant at Rea & Associates, a “top 100” accounting firm based out of Ohio. Earlier this year, Huffman was thrilled to get the two years’ experience needed to become a CFE. During his time with Rea & Associates, Huffman has done both tax and assurance services. He was originally more interested in the tax route, but due to his firm’s assurance department needing staff, he shifted his focus to assurance work. As Huffman became more familiar with this work, he started to really enjoy it and is looking forward to where it takes him in the future.
You recently gained the two years’ experience needed to become a CFE. What sort of challenges did you have to overcome?
For me, the biggest challenge was coming into the world of public accounting without any real experience other than volunteer tax work. Assurance was new to me, and it is quite the challenge learning the areas of risk, why these areas are considered high risk, how we test the areas and what procedures we can use, especially when the profession is constantly changing. Auditor judgment can influence a lot of these decisions, and without any experience it is difficult to understand these items. I had to make sure I was asking the question “Why?” a lot. “Why are we testing this area?” “Why are we doing this procedure?” My goal is to always try to figure out why I am doing something rather than just trying to figure out what I need to do. I feel this benefited me greatly as I was gaining my two years of experience.
What advice do you have for others who are working toward earning the CFE credential?
Put in the time to earn the CFE credential. By having the credential, you will stand out in your firm and as a job candidate. I have already been contacted by our marketing department about potentially writing articles for our newsletters. The process to earn the CFE is not impossible, and potential candidates just need to dedicate the time to earn it.
What does your current role as an associate at Rea & Associates entail?
I recently became full-time assurance this past busy season, as the firm encourages new employees to work in both tax and assurance to determine which area they like best. I primary work on financial statement reviews, retirement plan audits, and various agreed-upon procedures that we perform for our clients.
How did you first become interested in fighting fraud?
I first became interested when we learned about fraud cases during my accounting classes in college. Hearing about how individuals would steal millions of dollars from a company before anyone figured it out was mind blowing. Then, when I discovered the Masters of Accounting program at Ohio Northern University, which has a focus of fraud investigation and is how I discovered the CFE credential, I really became interested in the field. I studied fraud in depth and had the opportunity to do a simulated fraud case, all while completing the CFE Exam during my time at Ohio Northern.
How has earning the CFE credential impacted your work?
I think by earning the CFE credential it makes you more aware of the different types of fraud that can occur. While I hope there isn’t fraud occurring at the clients I work with, the thought and awareness is always there since I have earned my CFE. Also, as mentioned above, I have been recognized in my firm and may have the opportunity to publish articles for the firm’s newsletter.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy working out, and playing golf and basketball. I also enjoying trying new restaurants and experiencing the different atmospheres and food options.