Listen and learn

By James D. Ratley, CFE

jim-ratley-80x80.jpgFrom the President and CEO

We begin our careers with optimistic plans. But as you move from position to position, you might find that success is eluding you. Maybe it's time to reevaluate and learn from a master fraud fighter.

Steve Albrecht, the author of the cover article, is an academic who has spent as much time in business offices as classrooms. He's consulted with numerous organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, major financial institutions, the United Nations and FBI, among many others.

Until July 2008, he was the associate dean of the Marriott School at Brigham Young University (BYU). And before that he was director of the BYU School of Accountancy.

Steve's research in fraud and accounting is renowned. When this association was in its gestation period, Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, approached Steve for his counsel. Steve's professional DNA is woven into the fraud body of knowledge: the Fraud Examiner's Manual, the Certified Fraud Examiner credential, plus our seminars and conferences.

I normally don't extoll the high points of a person's résumé, but I'm emphasizing that you should listen to this man. He knows what he's talking about.

"Fraud fighting is an exciting career," Steve writes in the cover article. "However, not all fraud-fighting professionals are equally successful. Whether you work for a company, are an independent consultant, an expert witness or perform other fraud-fighting and forensic accounting work, here are seven of the most critical things you can do to further your career and success."

Here are Steve's lessons:

  • You must make a business case for your services.
  • You must help others understand that there are no small frauds; just large frauds that are caught early.
  • If you want to build a successful fraud-fighting business, you have to make yourself visible and build a good reputation.
  • Always deliver a high-value and helpful product to your client.
  • You must understand business concepts to become an effective fraud fighter.
  • You must always perform high-quality work that has higher value than your competitors.
  • Be a good listener.

I like all of Steve's points, but that last one is probably the most important lesson. "As a fraud-fighting professional, you're always working for someone else — perhaps an employer, a law firm or a large corporation," he writes. "You must listen carefully to understand expected outcomes and what they expect you to do — don't assume anything. Don't just hear the words but understand and connect."

Listen to this man. And learn.

James D. Ratley, CFE, President and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, can be reached at

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