17th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition

Full house, quality education

By Dick Carozza

Here's what happens when the ACFE combines more than 2,000 anti-fraud fighters, 11 tracks with over 60 sessions, advanced options for experienced pros, more than 50 exhibitors, and five General Session speakers: an educational event for fraud examiners matched by no other. 

Participants at the sold-out 17th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition experienced the results of the maturation of a profession and an organization 18 years in the making.

During the opening general session, James D. Ratley, CFE, the ACFE's program director from the beginning, was presented as the President of the Association. "As your new President, I pledge to you that I will be diligent in my efforts to continue the tradition of excellence that has been established by the leaders and volunteers of the Association, both past and present," Ratley said.

"... We are marching slowly but steadily toward a member-owned non-profit organization," he said. "So my term as your President will not exceed three years, at which time our new non-profit board will select its new leader."

Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, said during a general session that the Association reached a milestone three years ago "when I booted myself upstairs and brought on Toby Bishop as President and CEO.

"That was a great move for me; it was a baptism by fire for Toby. After 3 1/2 years, Toby decided that traipsing around the world was not for him. He was either on a plane going somewhere or in Austin burning up in the heat. So at the end of last year, he decided to re-enter private practice so that he could also return to his beloved Chicago."

Wells said that after Bishop left, the management decided that "being both President and CEO was simply too much for one person. So we promoted our CFO, Scott Grossfeld ... to the position of CEO. He is in charge of the operational side of the ACFE and has done a tremendous job for us."

Another milestone, Wells said, is the planned conversion to a full-fledged non-profit organization, owned by the members. "Over a year ago, the ACFE voting membership elected a five-person non-profit board of directors. ... We have since formed the ACFE Foundation, one of two non-profits that will manage the ACFE. The next step is to form the ACFE membership organization, which, because of financial considerations, is at least two years away."

Wells said that he had previously told the members that he and his wife, Judy, have set up a charitable remainder trust with the ACFE, the beneficiary of their estate.

The continued success of the ACFE's Anti-fraud Education Partnership is another milestone, he said. "Recognizing the sad fact that accounting students get inadequate education in fraud, we started the initiative in 2002. At that time, there were only 19 colleges out of 900 that offered anti-fraud courses to their students. So we made an offer to universities that was hard to refuse. If they would agree to offer a fraud course, we would furnish them all of the resources they needed, free, with no strings attached.

"To say that this program has been a success is an understatement. Now, a third of the U.S. institutions of higher learning are either offering a fraud course or plan to do so in the immediate future. We expect that within five years, a college that doesn't offer a fraud course will be the exception, not the rule," Wells said. "Recognizing the worldwide nature of our organization, we have extended the higher education program globally. Colleges in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe will now be able to participate."

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