Q&A with Suzanne Reed, CFE

Suzanne Reed of Kentucky received her CFE credential this year after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Suzanne believes her new CFE credential, along with her experience working in the anti-money laundering field as a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer, will put her a step above the rest. When Suzanne is not working, she enjoys traveling.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Reed: I was certified January 2018.

Coach: Please describe your experience using the CFE Exam Prep Course.

Reed: The Prep Course was instrumental to passing the test. I was familiar with parts of the Prep Course, but there were concepts that were foreign to me (for example, health care fraud and interrogating suspects). The way I prepared with the software worked very well for me and saved a lot of time. If I had read the Fraud Examiners Manual, it would have taken me much longer to complete the test.

After I took the initial test to learn the order I should take the course, with the most familiar section being first, I began answering the questions as a whole. I could then see the parts of a section in which I really needed to focus my attention. For the concepts that I needed to put the most attention into, I pulled out the Fraud Examiners Manual and studied that content; then, I would continue with the questions with a better understanding of the material. Once I felt confident and was able to answer most of the Prep Course questions correctly, I took each timed practice exam. By doing this, I scored high enough on each practice test to meet ACFE’s Money-Back Pass Guarantee the first time and moved on to the next section of the test. I repeated this process until I completed all four sections.

Then, I began taking the exams in the reverse order I studied; the section I last studied was the first section that I took the exam on. The one mistake I realized after I took my first exam was that even though I would answer a Prep Course question correctly, I would not read the question’s explanation about the answer. There is a lot of useful information in the question explanation. It seemed that the majority of the questions I had while taking the exams were answered in the question explanation and not the actual question asked, so my best advice is to read the question explanation. As I worked my way through the exams, I answered all the Prep Course questions and read the explanations for each question; then, I focused on the sections where I answered questions incorrectly or felt uncertain about the material.

Coach: What did you like most about the Prep Course?

Reed: It helped me focus on the sections I needed more help on, and it saved me a ton of reading. It also helped me get a feel for the way the questions were going to be asked on the exam. The Prep Course was most helpful.

Coach: How long did it take you to complete the Prep Course and how often did you study?

Reed: In reality, it took me only a couple of months to study, even though I had the Prep Course for eight or nine months. I began to study when I first received the course, but work became incredibly demanding, so I let the Prep Course sit on the back burner. The 90-day challenge was what I needed to make me finish. I had a family issue in the middle of the 90-day challenge, and I stopped studying regularly in the middle of it.

I studied at least five days a week, but sometimes I studied more. I dedicated at least 45 minutes to an hour each day, sometimes more.

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

Reed: I am a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer at a bank, so I work in anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud all the time. When you look at job postings in the same field—at my level, along with experience—they usually ask for one or two certifications and one is the CFE certification.

Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Reed: Yes, for the knowledge, if nothing else. But it does help get your foot in the door if you have experience. If you do not have the experience, start at the bottom and work your way up. I started as a teller while pursuing my degree in accounting. I moved to deposit operations, and then I moved to the compliance department. If you prove your worth in every position, no matter how menial it seems, your effort will be noticed, and you will be delegated more responsibility. Managers always know who they can trust to do a good job with whatever they hand you, so do your best and don’t complain about the work you get. Just because you have a certification does not mean you automatically get a job; the certification is helpful in getting an interview and deciding among the other candidates who are in the running for a position. I work in banking, so if I applied for a position in health care, I would not expect to get that position just because I passed a test.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Reed: My interest began as a teller, and it spiked when I moved to card services and began working debit card disputes.

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?

Reed: I love to travel for fun, as well as attend conferences for work. I love to learn. When I learn something new, I consider it a good day.

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

Reed: Read the question explanation provided in each Prep Course question, and work diligently.