Q & A with Jean-Christophe Boitard, CFE

Jean-Christophe Boitard of Montreal, QC, recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin, TX. When Jean-Christophe is not working, he enjoys cooking for his friends and family. The relaxation he feels when preparing a meal helps to balance out his busy professional life. As part of that professional life, Jean-Christophe put some time aside this past November to accomplish his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. He has seen a positive difference since obtaining his credential and was even solicited by a headhunter who was specifically looking for a CFE. 

Coach:  When did you receive your CFE credential?

Boitard:  I was certified on November 18, 2016.

Coach:  You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Austin, TX and following the course, you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.

Boitard: It was a very nice experience thanks to the organization of the ACFE, even if the days were very long and intensive. The written documentation that is distributed at the beginning of the course allows for taking notes and making keyword combinations easy to memorize at the time of the exam. The speakers have an extensive knowledge of the subjects, punctuated by real-life examples that facilitate understanding. Interaction with other students also helps a lot; in my case, knowledge of U.S. laws is purely theoretical and some mnemonic tips were welcome. The end-of-day examination requires a lot of concentration and good time management to answer all the questions before the time limit is up. Finally, receiving the exam results right after the end of the exam is very comforting before moving to the next day.

Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Boitard: It is the whole package that makes the event work perfectly—the expertise of the speakers, the content of the course, the balance between the intensity of the course and the breaks, the quality of the organization, and above all the support and the kindness of the entire ACFE team.

Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Boitard: I have already been able to measure the positive effects in two cases—the first one with the investigators of the prosecutor's office and the second one with the syndic of discipline of a professional association. I was surprised at the end of January to be solicited by a headhunter who was specifically looking for a CFE because CFEs are not common in South America even though the demand is strong in an environment conducive to corruption. She was specifically looking for a CFE with experience in detecting and preventing conflicts of interest within engineering companies.

Coach:  How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Boitard: My preparation began before arriving in Austin. As failure was not an option, I studied the CFE Exam Prep Course for 90 days, for a total of about 150 hours, to improve my understanding and get familiar with the format of the exam questions before attending the CFE Exam Review Course. Then, I planned the trip to arrive in Austin on Saturday, review the quizzes for five hours on Sunday, and focus only on course delivery during the week without studying after class—you do not come to Austin only to stay locked in a hotel room every night!

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Boitard: I became passionate about fighting fraud because of two separate events, about twenty years apart. The first was in secondary school when some students stole the answers to a difficult exam. Due to the lack of evidence to identify the students involved in the fraud, the professor decided to make the whole class retake the exam, which I felt was an injustice. The second time was when I was working for a bankruptcy trustee on a case involving a massive fraud that led many innocent employees to lose their job as part of a company’s restructuring. I felt these two events emotionally, although I carried out my audit work with a certain detachment between these two episodes. After the second event, I decided that I had to prevent and deter fraud to avoid its social consequences.

Coach:  Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Boitard: I love cooking! Cooking is a project that only takes a few hours but provides great relaxation during the preparation and an immense satisfaction when my family or my friends enjoy the meal. Whether it is an elaborate, improvised meal or something very ordinary to accommodate the leftovers, cooking provides balance with my professional life, where an investigation can last several weeks with unpredictable results.

Coach:  Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Boitard: After twenty years of experience in audit and investigation, we sometimes take a few shortcuts and develop bad habits. The planning and discipline involved in studying the CFE Exam Prep Course allowed me to deepen themes that I do not regularly practice and to familiarize myself with the format of exam questions. It is essential to plan (and execute) at least one hour of study per day to scan all subjects without being saturated with information in the last week before attending the CFE Exam Review Course. My personal routine was wake up, 45 minutes of gym, one hour of Prep Course studying before going to the office, and then 30 to 45 minutes of review before bedtime. Following the guidance in the Prep Course is also necessary.