7 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Earn Your CFE Credential


John Loftis, CFE
ACFE Membership Communications Manager

I recently saw a discussion in the CFE Exam Preparation community about people who are resolving to earn their CFE credential in 2017. According to statistics, more than 30 percent of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after the first two weeks of January. Many resolutions like better health, better finances or finding the love of your life are things that I unfortunately cannot help you with, but I can help you to create a plan that will put you on the path to passing the CFE Exam.

I read an article in Forbes this week called, 7 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions. I noticed how many of these secrets could apply to the CFE Exam. Based on that article, below is a quick framework to help you avoid becoming one of the 30 percent and earn the CFE credential.

1. Specify your goals

One of the trendy concepts you have probably heard of is creating SMART goals i.e. making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. You want to earn your CFE credential in 2017, but did you pick a deadline yet? Review the 30-, 60- and 90-day study plans. Pick one and stick with it.  

2. Break it down

You have to study for the exam, complete the application process and finally take the exam. That can be intimidating. However, the process is much more manageable if you break it down into small chunks. Create mini-goals to help you along the way.

Here are some examples:

  • Complete the Pre-Assessment by 1/24/2017
  • Submit the CFE Exam application before 1/31/2017
  • Answer all the questions in the Fraud Prevention section by 2/8/2017

The 30-, 60- and 90-day study plans include a checklist of deadlines that will help you create these mini-goals.

3. Schedule it

When I studied for my CFE Exam, I decided I would study during my lunch hour. Every day for about three months, I packed my lunch, sat at my desk and studied. Maybe studying at lunch will not work for you, but it is important to choose a time and place, and study consistently.

4. Measure progress

The CFE Exam Prep Course includes tools for tracking your study progress. You can also use this chart to keep track of the time you spend studying.

5. Share your goals in the CFE Exam Preparation Community

Stop by the CFE Exam Preparation Community and share your goals. As the Forbes article mentions, social support is critical. Who better to share your goals with than colleagues around the world who are preparing to pass the CFE Exam?

6. Something is better than nothing

At the most recent Principles of Fraud Examination course taught by the ACFE, I was discussing CFE Exam preparation with a member. I told her that even if you only have time to answer 10 questions a day in the Prep Course, you are still moving forward. Some progress is better than no progress and you will be surprised how many questions you answer after you knock out those first 10 questions.

7. Get up when you slip up

If you miss a day, week or even a month of studying, do not give up. Revisit your mini-goals, adjust your deadlines and get going. You can do it!

Because I am a quote person, I will leave you with this:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” -Confucius

Why We Do What We Do: The ACFE’s Global Fraud Survey



John Warren, J.D., CFE
ACFE VP and General Counsel


 "The average corporate fraud lasts up to 18 months before detection and involves more than $140,000.” - Walt Pavlo, “Forget NSA Surveillance, Your Company is Watching You," Forbes.com, June 26, 2013

"Research shows that worldwide, payroll fraud comprises 8.5 per cent of occupational fraud and costs an average of £46,195 per payroll fraud case." - UK National Fraud Authority, Annual Fraud Indicator, March 2012

"… It's not surprising that fraud in the workplace increased during the economic crisis and recession. The median loss tied to occupational fraud is $160,000 … so the issue is something about which many companies are rightfully concerned. Small businesses are especially vulnerable." - The Huffington Post, June 5, 2012

When you read a news story about a fraud case or a report about some aspect of financial crime, you’ll often see the writer reference statistics like the ones above. You may not think a lot about the stats directly, but they give the story context and help you understand the issues relating to the subject in a more meaningful way. 

What these quotes have in common – aside from being about the subject of fraud – is they were taken from the ACFE’s Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. That study, which is based on actual cases investigated by CFEs, has become one of the go-to sources for major media outlets looking for statistical data on occupational fraud. It’s also frequently cited by academics and researchers as resource material for their own fraud studies, and of course it’s used every day by ACFE members to educate their clients about fraud risk. 

In some ways, the Report to the Nations is the most important educational resource the ACFE produces. It not only provides useful information to ACFE members, but it also helps us show those outside the anti-fraud community the staggering losses that occupational fraud imposes on our economy. Let’s face it; if we as anti-fraud professionals are going to be effective at our jobs, the first thing we need to do is convince those who hire us that it’s worth investing and supporting us in what we do. The Report helps us make the case that our work is critically important.

The Report is only made possible by the contributions of CFEs throughout the world who take the time to fill out the Global Fraud Survey and tell us about one fraud case they’ve investigated in the last two years. That survey was recently distributed to all CFEs, and if you haven’t already filled it out I strongly encourage you to do so here. It’s one of the most important things you can do as a CFE to help support the ACFE mission. (Please note, we won’t ask you to identify any parties to your case, and your response will be kept confidential). 

Whenever I see the Report quoted in the media or cited by someone doing fraud research, I think about all the CFEs who took the time to help us assemble the data that went into that study, and I’m proud to be a part of an organization whose members have so much knowledge and are so ready to share it. The next time a stat like those above show up in a story you’re reading, I hope you’ll remember that the information came from your colleagues at the ACFE – or better yet, I hope you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back for having contributed your own case to the study.   

Take the Global Fraud Survey.

Fraud Conference is a News Maker


Scott Patterson
ACFE Senior Media Relations Specialist

When most people think about conferences, they conjure thoughts of chilly meeting rooms and PowerPoint presentations. Name tags. Perhaps some dry “trade talk” and (you hope) some free swag. These events are important for our professional development – but let’s be honest, for anyone not involved, a conference isn’t exactly headline-grabbing news. Unless it’s the ACFE Global Fraud Conference, that is.

There are always a number of journalists covering the annual event, and this year was no different. They came to report on the latest trends in cyber fraud, online investigations, interviewing techniques and other cutting-edge issues in our profession. Not only that, they wanted to hear what our keynote speakers had to say to thousands of fraud fighters who hung onto their every word. This year saw even more media coverage than usual, including live reporting by CNBC and on-location coverage from Fortune, Forbes, Accounting Today and other venues.

When CNBC set up their cameras to film the ACFE’s Cressey Award-winner Preet Bharara on the opening day of the Conference, they anxiously waited to see what breaking news he would announce from the podium. Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, didn’t disappoint: During his speech he revealed that the 2nd Circuit issued its ruling on the Raj Rajaratnam (currently serving 11 years in prison) appeal by upholding the conviction – a statement that was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Forbes blogger Walt Pavlo and Accounting Today editor-in-chief Michael Cohn attended breakout sessions and covered a variety of aspects of the conference. Peter Elkind, Fortune editor-at-large and co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, was on hand to see Andrew Fastow deliver the conference’s closing keynote address.

The Fastow appearance created a lot of buzz around the Conference. It was his first public appearance before a large audience and the media. Though his speech was not videotaped, as per his request, CNBC reported live (on-location from the conference) immediately following his address with reaction to his revelations and admissions.  

CNBC reporter Scott Cohn and his crew stayed through the entire Main Conference, talking with speakers, attendees and exhibitors. The result was a great clip produced for PBS Nightly Business Report that covered the event as a whole, a summation of the largest gathering of anti-fraud professionals in the world included in a segment titled, "Financial Fraud Fears."

It’s exciting to see the media sharing the experience of the ACFE Global Fraud Conference with the rest of the world. It just helps illustrate that it’s not only a conference – it’s an event.

Read all of the news coverage from the Conference.

New, Changing Laws Call for Open Minds and Informed Objectivity from CFEs


James D. Ratley, CFE
ACFE President and CEO

We’ve all heard the adage that a crisis can be an opportunity. But how often, when we’re focused on solving an immediate problem, do we miss the chance to leap forward to more comprehensive remedies? As CFEs, we owe it to our clients and employers — and to our own career aspirations — to identify and/or devise strategies that meet current and future needs.

With that in mind, consider the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed revamping of its whistle-blower program as mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act (see recent Forbes post). The plan permits those reporting corporate malfeasance to bypass internal whistle-blowing channels and go straight to the SEC without jeopardizing their eligibility for an up-to-30-percent share in any resulting sanction of $1 million or more against corporations.

Critics say this strategy will seriously weaken corporations’ fraud detection and prevention regimes that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandated. Plus, if a whistle-blower tells only the SEC about a fraud, the corporation — presuming it is unaware of the fraud — would issue financial statements that inadvertently conceal the fraud.

Therefore, employers might consider revising and strengthening their internal reporting procedures to encourage employees to first raise any concerns directly with them before bringing legal claims in court or to regulatory bodies.

This complex issue calls for equally pressing considerations, such as the need for a prompt, effective response when frauds are revealed and incorporation of whistle-blower protection. In numerous recent cases, employees who reported significant fraud through corporate channels were, at best ignored or, at worst, persecuted. In some cases, the common good also suffered when the unresolved fraud continued.

These valid and sometimes opposing concerns call for open minds and informed objectivity. As CFEs, we are uniquely qualified to provide leadership to our employers and clients and help them implement anti-fraud measures that address both individual incidents and overall circumstances.

Read the full Letter from the President from the latest issue of Fraud Magazine here.