Forensic Accountant Relies on Skills Learned Outside of the Classroom

MEMBER PROFILE

Ryan Collins, CFE
Manager, Fraud and Investigation Dispute Services
EY 

According to Ryan Collins, CFE, Manager of Fraud and Investigation Dispute Services at EY, the most valuable career lessons he has learned were not taught in school. “Today’s market requires a forensic accountant to possess a different skillset from the traditional accountant, which means most of what you learn in your career isn’t taught inside of a classroom,” Collins said. “Analytical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to think outside the box are some of the most important skills I’ve learned over my career, and continue to employ on a daily basis.”

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud? 
I attended Bentley University where I earned my undergraduate degree in accounting and my MBA. I always figured when I graduated I would take a job in tax or audit. At Bentley, I took a forensic accounting course where I learned about the Enrons, WorldComs and Madoffs of the world. I was immediately hooked. I’m lucky enough to have a career where I can focus on doing well and doing a lot of good.

What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before you began your professional career? 
The one thing I wish someone would have told me before I began my career was that I was going to make mistakes and that that was okay. The first thing I tell our new staff each year is that they are going to make mistakes, probably a lot of them. The important thing when you make a mistake is that you don’t get frustrated or down on yourself. Mistakes are the most powerful learning tools there are.

What value do you see in mentorship, and what advice do you have for someone looking for a mentor? 
For me, mentorship is one of the single most important aspects of career development. I think it’s essential to find a mentor as early in your career as possible. For me, that meant finding someone who was doing the job I wanted to be doing in five years, and understanding the steps they took and the process they followed to be successful. And when I get there, it is just as important to become a mentor, and help guide others along in their careers.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on – one that made you feel especially proud? 
A few years ago I was able to perform a pro-bono engagement working with a charity in the Boston area. Early in my career, it was inspiring to see that EY wasn’t only focusing on their financial bottom line, but also the social impact they were having on the community.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?  
When I am not fighting fraud, I’m fighting a hook and a slice on the golf course. I love to play the game as much as possible, even when I can’t find a course. And, as a bonus, it’s a great way to develop business relationships.

Ready Ryan's full interview in the Career Center on ACFE.com.

Chapter Leader Profile: Pierre-Luc Pomerleau

MEMBER PROFILE

Pierre-Luc Pomerleau, CFE, PCI, CPP, has been in the anti-fraud field his entire professional career. Last year he helped establish the Montreal Chapter and has already made a big impact on the community by organizing sold-out events, establishing networking opportunities and helping promote the largest ACFE Fraud Conference Canada.    

What do you do for a living?
I lead National Bank of Canada’s Corporate Security and Fraud Risk Management Division, which includes corporate security investigations, physical security, and the fraud strategy and data analytics teams.

Why did you decide to enter the anti-fraud field?
I entered the anti-fraud field almost 12 years ago when I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in criminology. I had the opportunity to work part-time as a fraud prevention analyst within a large Canadian financial institution. It was the perfect job for me at that time since the job was related to my degree. At the time, I never thought that I would work in a financial institution. However, since the beginning of my career, I’ve always worked in this industry.

How long have you been involved with the chapter?
I have been the president of the new Montreal Chapter since its formation in October of 2015.

What has been a highlight during your time on the board?
Since March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, we felt it was important for us to organize an event to promote fraud awareness. We organized a full-day training event and it was a huge success. A total of 185 anti-fraud professionals attended. We did a survey after the conference and the feedback we received from our members was excellent. Since it was our first full-day event, we did not know how many members would attend and we were glad that it was a sold-out event.

Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders?
A board is like a team. The most important things while investing time in a nonprofit organization are your peers and colleagues on the board. It takes time and a lot of organizational skills to build a website, prepare training, get interesting speakers to present at conferences and sponsors to fund our conferences, as well as to find a location for the members to assist an event while working full-time jobs. Having a dedicated board will ensure volunteering for the chapter will be an amazing and beneficial experience.

I strongly believe it is imperative that chapter leaders share roles and responsibilities between each other and that not only a couple of members do the work that needs to be done. We clarified roles and responsibilities between us and we hold ourselves accountable. I believe that this is the best way to invest time and energy in order to create value for the chapter and its members.

What are your favorite activities and hobbies outside of work?
Outside of work, most of my free time is spent with my wife and two amazing children. We like to travel and it is always fun to go to the beach with our kids. I attend NFL football games with friends in New York usually once a year. Nothing is better than a real tailgate on a Sunday morning before the game! I also like to read books, invest time in my personal development and exercise to stay in shape.

What is your personal motto? Does it have any special meaning?
One of the books that I read recently is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two former Navy Seals. I really appreciate how the authors shared their experiences and explained how some of the strategies employed in the Navy Seals can be applicable in our personal lives as well as in the business world. One quote that I like from Jocko Willink is, “discipline equals freedom.”

What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
I played football for nine years until I reached college level and this is a sport that I am still a big fan of. In 2002, I had the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana. We played against team China, Europe and U.S.A. This was quite an experience to play against these countries and at this level. I am still proud of it today.

Read more of Pierre's profile at ACFEChapterNews.com

CFE Commands Respect While Generating Fraud Awareness

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MEMBER PROFILE

Davis Kallukaran, CFE, Founder and Managing Partner
Horwath Mak Ghazali
Sultanate of Oman

Having founded Horwath Mak Ghazali, one of the top five auditing and business advisory firms in the Sultanate of Oman, Davis Kallukaran, CFE, has worked hard to command respect and receive recognition for his hard work. He says “everything depends upon how you package yourself, like any other product – it is personal branding that is crucial for the profession.” Kallukaran shares how being involved in professional organizations locally and internationally helps to develop his personal brand and adds credibility to his organization’s name.

Where were you born and raised?  
I was born in India, in the state of Kerala. I had my early education in my home town of Trissur.

How did you become involved with the ACFE?  
In 1995, I founded the firm Ghazali Mak and Associates in the Sultanate of Oman in association with Mak and Associates from Dubai and Muna Al Ghazali, an Omani National. The firm evolved over the years, and since 2008 it has been a member-firm of Crowe Horwath, a top 10 global accounting network. Horwath Mak Ghazali was continuously engaged by the courts as expert auditors in various cases. These developments aroused my enthusiasm to look into the activities of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. I was awarded the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential in 2006. Due to the inadequate numbers of qualified CFEs in Oman our attempt to establish a chapter did not materialize until this year. The chapter was established on June 7, 2015, and I am proud to be one of the board members.

What are the best opportunities for someone entering into your career? 
I should say that the sky is the limit for people entering into the accounting and auditing professions. Apart from the regular audit, tax and risk advisory services, forensic accounting, corporate finance, management consultancy practices and corporate governance are opening up a plethora of opportunities for professionals. Courts are very much dependent upon forensic professionals to provide expert opinions and accountants are required in every field of business.

What do you wish you had known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated founding the firm?  In my earlier days of practice I never understood the value of international associations. Prior to setting up the firm in Oman, I never ever imagined that a brand value can be strategically developed. A brand is not going to give you any mileage unless you create brand awareness in your local market. The same goes with your qualifications. A highly qualified person will not be effective unless he engages his qualifications effectively and thereby creates value. The local chapters have a great responsibility to create awareness about the contributions that CFEs can bring to any organization.

When you are not working, what types of things do you enjoy doing?  
When I am not working I like to spend time with my wife, Elizabeth, and our children. God willing, we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year. The three boys are all grown up now. I also like reading inspirational books and listening to Hindi Music.

Read Davis' full profile in the Career Center on ACFE.com.

Native Texan Pioneers Fight Against Dental Fraud & Embezzlement

MEMBER PROFILE

Bryant Truitt, CFE 
Founder and CEO 
Brytan & Associates, Inc.  
San Antonio, Texas 

Bryant Truitt, CFE, Founder and CEO of Brytan & Associates, Inc. found his calling in preventing health care fraud, specifically for dentists and oral surgeons, over a casual conversation with his dentist more than 15 years ago. “I was in my dentist’s office when he admitted that he’d been ripped off for $54,000. I said I’d like to look into it for him. Within a week, an oral surgeon friend told me he’d been ripped off for $120,000,” Truitt said. “I was seeing a terrible pattern — people who worked long, hard hours to help others were losing their futures. I wanted to help.” Truitt started his own firm shortly after that visit to his dentist, and now has clients all over the U.S. and Canada. He and his team have helped more than 400 practices fight back against the fraudsters who stole from them.

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?  
I have such a high regard for the health care providers who work hard and don’t deserve to have people they trust steal from them or abuse their jobs. I am passionate because I have such a wonderful team to help me who also want to make a difference. Together, we have more than 100 years of dental and health care experience. We put a lot of effort into staying current on health care best practices, as well as the fraud research and information from the ACFE. We get a chance to work with top CPA firms, defense attorneys and practice management companies in the U.S. and Canada. And, finally, it’s easy to be passionate when I see people learn how not to be victims of fraud or embezzlement because of what I’ve said or taught them.

What do you wish someone had told you about your career when you were just starting out?  
Most of our clients come to us after the crime has been committed. I wish someone had told me when I was starting out that although people are concerned, they think that these crimes only happen to others. I also wish someone had helped me see that even those who want to make corrections in their business practices literally have no time, let alone energy. When you work straight through 32 hours a week, this only leaves eight hours to manage a practice. The fraudster or embezzler has all 40 hours to come up with and put schemes in place, set up gangs, etc. while their boss thinks they are only doing the work assigned to them. I don’t believe we will ever totally prevent fraud. But if you take action, you can slow it down or lower the losses. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to communicate to clients the real value of taking those actions and doing the investigation. To someone new to fraud, this can be hard to understand or take.

What advice do you have for those looking to open their own business or consulting practice?  

To make any business idea successful there has to be an underserved market. My best advice is to find that market using strong research practices and a realistic business plan. Then, make sure you can add true value to these customers. You must also be willing to struggle and deal with selling an intangible that, if you do it right, they won’t ever see because there will be no losses. Be available, be a great listener, and be well-organized, flexible and passionate.

Read Bryan's full profile in the ACFE's online Career Center.

Student Scholarship Winner Receives Much More Than a Free Registration

MEMBER PROFILE

Kim Fleischmann, CFE, Senior Auditor - Global Internal Audit Services
Walmart

When Kim Fleischmann, a born and bred Oregonian, applied on a whim for a student scholarship to attend the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in 2012, she had no idea that she would leave the event with an auditor position with Walmart. “Without the scholarship and conference, I’m not sure when I would have realized what opportunities were available in the private sector,” said Fleischmann. “Ultimately, I believe I ended up where I’m at because of the connections made through the ACFE and my willingness to integrate my experiences into my new career.”

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

My passion for fighting fraud has steadily grown throughout my working career. During college, I processed background screenings for rental applications and discovered I loved digging up dirt that people thought they hid. A couple of years after graduating, I worked for a small international fishing company leading the accounts payable department. This was my first experience working for someone whose ethics I questioned. Throughout the next decade, I worked in various companies, good and bad, and continued to have experiences with individuals who walked the fine line between ethical and unethical behaviors. It was during this time that my frustration and passion grew as I continued to see the damage unethical decisions left behind.

How do you think receiving a scholarship to attend the ACFE Global Fraud Conference impacted your career?

Applying for the student scholarship to the ACFE Global Fraud Conference was something I did on a whim. I was close to completing my masters in Criminal Justice Administration, and I was not sure of my next step. The only thing I was sure of is that I wanted to fight fraud and corruption. While at the conference, I approached the Walmart Internal Audit booth in the Exhibit Hall to see what opportunities they had to offer. Before leaving the conference, I had completed an interview. I received a job offer within the month. Throughout my studies, I assumed I would end up in the public arena and never really considered the corporate world, despite having worked in that world for the previous decade. Without the scholarship and conference, I’m not sure when I would have realized what opportunities were available in the private sector.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE?

I remember someone once saying that fraud is sexy. In the last couple of years, especially since earning my CFE, I would agree with that statement. On the surface, fraud is sexy and fascinating, but it is after you look past the exciting façade and really look at it that you see the infectious and insidious nature that allows it to proliferate. I have discovered that when the CFE credential comes up in conversation most people are intrigued, but tend only to see the sexy side of fraud. Those that are truly passionate are the ones that look beyond the obvious and see the challenges faced in combating fraud and corruption.

What steps led you to your current position?

After one particularly boring day at work, I did some depressing calculations and realized I still had 30 years left before retiring. That, combined with the fact that I never truly loved any job since graduating, prompted me to reassess how I wanted to spend the rest of my working career. Law enforcement had always fascinated me, so I jumped head first into a criminal justice graduate program. It was there I realized how different I was from my classmates as years spent in business gave me a unique perspective. Throughout my studies, I made a conscious effort to grow and expand that perspective through classes, research and networking so that I stood out among my peers. Ultimately, I believe I ended up where I’m at because of the connections made through the ACFE and my willingness to integrate my experiences into my new career.

What is your current role and what does it entail?

As a Senior Auditor within Internal Audit, I am lucky to be a member of a small functional team specifically focused on anti-corruption and fraud prevention. Working with customers in ethics, compliance and legal, my team helps ensure that policies and controls are in place to discourage or detect unethical or fraudulent activity. Additionally, I have the opportunity to encourage and educate others on the risks of fraud within various areas of the company through work with the local ACFE chapter.

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on? Feel free to alter details to protect confidential information.

My current project is by far one of the most challenging, and rewarding, that I have worked. Presently, my team is traveling the world to assist in reinforcing existing anti-corruption policies and controls. Throughout the project, I have had the privilege of learning the intricate workings of the world’s largest company.  Beyond that, I have seen firsthand the difficulties cultural and ethical difference present when operating in the global sphere.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?

I like trying new things and going to places off the beaten track. While at home, I enjoy reading, cooking and enjoying the beauty of Northwest Arkansas. When on the road, I love trying local delicacies and cultural activities. 

To apply for a scholarship to attend the 25th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, contact Lupe DeLeon, Member Services Manager, at LDeLeon@ACFE.com.