Q & A with Stephanie Ziegler, CFE

Stephanie Ziegler of Oregon recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course. When Stephanie is not working, she loves to read and travel with her husband. She also has a passion for sports. But a couple a months ago, she put some time aside to focus on accomplishing her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. Stephanie feels that the concepts she learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in her efforts to create a fraud risk management program at the credit union where she works. She also feels that the information she learned has influenced her work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Ziegler: I was officially awarded the credential on November 8, 2018.

Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in New York 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.

Ziegler: Participating in the on-site course and then taking the test afterward created a completely immersive atmosphere. I was able to spend each day reviewing a section and focusing on areas that I wanted to improve in, and then I would study and test that new knowledge. I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to study a certain concept because the instructors covered all aspects of each section. And I like the way the course is structured; as you progress through the days, the concepts begin building off of one another, and you see how different areas of fraud are similar. This helps when taking the test.

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

Ziegler: I found the four-day course to be extremely helpful. I had been studying on my own using the CFE Exam Prep Course, but having the ability to ask questions and discuss concepts with other attendees increased my comfort level with some of the more difficult concepts. I saw an increase of at least 5% on my official exam scores over my practice tests, and I attribute that directly to my on-site experience.

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

Ziegler: I work for a credit union and focus on fraud and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). We are currently building our fraud risk management program, and the concepts that I have learned while studying to be a CFE are fundamental in creating that program in our institution. Additionally, what I learned has influenced my work as a fraud investigator and witness in legal cases.

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

Ziegler: I began by studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course, and I used that to become familiar with the concepts and format of the CFE Exam. Once I was in New York for the CFE Exam Review Course, I used the Prep Course to prepare myself for the section that was to be reviewed the following day. Each night I would take a practice test for the next day’s section, and then I would take the practice test again in the morning before class began. That was helpful because I could see what areas I was weaker in on the practice tests, and I knew to focus on those throughout the day when I had the opportunity to ask questions. If needed, I took another practice test at lunch or reviewed topics with other attendees.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Ziegler: I absolutely would recommend this course. I felt like the CFE Exam Prep Course gave me a great knowledge base for the exam, but the on-site CFE Exam Review Course took the learning experience to the next level. The benefits of in-person instruction were essential for me.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Ziegler: I have wanted to work in fraud since I began working for financial institutions over 15 years ago. It seemed like a fascinating and ever-evolving area to be in. I have been working fraud cases for almost six years now and still love it every day. I love the complexity of fraud and the challenge that it presents. I also love being able to help people who have been the victims of fraud. It is very rewarding to be someone who they can trust and rely on while they are going through such a difficult time.

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?

Ziegler: I am a constant learner. I love to read and travel with my husband. I also love sports; I’ll watch almost anything, but I’m most passionate about NCAA football, women’s basketball, and Major League Baseball. Education and literacy are extremely important to me, so I spend time volunteering with local schools and organizations that focus on improving education and literacy in my community.

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

Ziegler: I don’t think one could over-prepare for these exams. I found it most important to set aside a specific amount of time to study throughout my day; otherwise, it was easy for me to tell myself that I’d just get to it later, but then that wouldn’t happen. Also, once you’re on-site taking the course, go for it and take the test, even though it’s optional! The information is fresh in your mind, and there is no downside to trying!