Q&A with Amelia Tercero , CFE

Amelia Tercero of California received her CFE credential this past fall after studying with the CFE Exam Prep Course. Tercero found the Law section beneficial, especially learning the different types of fraud schemes and transactions, as she works in banking. Having the CFE credential has given Tercero more confidence and an urge to become a lawyer. In her free time, Tercero enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as having some lazy days

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?

Tercero: I was certified on January 3, 2019, and I’ve got my CFE certificate now nicely framed! It’s all worth it, I promise!

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

Tercero: Originally, I was planning to do a 30-day online course plan. I had purchased the online Prep Course and later started using the online Fraud Examiners Manual—do browse the online Fraud Examiners Manual. But from October through December 2018, I participated in the 90-Day CFE Exam Challenge, which had great engagement and teamwork, along with participation in the forum.

The Prep Course is user-friendly and easy to navigate and understand. You will like that you can set your goal dates from start to completion. The tracker was motivating for me because you see your progression and have an idea of where you are and what to focus on, and you get to see your level of understanding of each concept. All of the review sessions and practice tests prepare you for the final exam and offer a lot of practice. There are plenty of questions in the bank to gain the knowledge for your final exam. You can practice as much as you want, and you can use the filter option to break down the topics from the main concepts. The Prep Course shows you your scored percentage, and it’s easy to understand.

The practice tests are timed, so keep track of your time before the final exam to see how long the test is taking you to complete and improve if you need to. Always take a practice test before your final exam, and review any key notes you prepared along the way that helped you. The final is a timed, closed-book exam.

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

Tercero: I liked the improvement tracker and how well it captures your individual knowledge. You put in what you expect out of it, and the score doesn’t lie.

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

Tercero: I studied seven days a week I ramped up studying during the weekends. I read, reviewed, and reread. I completed the entire course on November 14, 2018, meaning all the review questions for all four sections. Then I began the practice tests in preparation, one at a time, before the final exam.

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

Tercero: The Law section was crucial, especially learning the differences of civil versus criminal and federal versus state. The section tied into the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, and types of fraud schemes and transactions that I had seen before in banking but more in-depth. The material contained emerging schemes, defined transactions, and auditing and investigating. The Law section applied to all industries, especially to financial services with added confidence toward the public sector, should I ever find myself on that route down the road—it made me want to be a lawyer!

Coach: Would you recommend the Prep Course to your colleagues?

Tercero: Yes, and I have been all along.

Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Tercero: Wow, I think that would be a book in itself. I have been exposed to fraud in so many ways, both externally and internally, having been in the financial services industry for so long. I have had the mentality that every day is an audit day.

I like innovation and open-mindedness, so now I am in the financial technology industry. My background consists of management, operations, compliance, some audit, accounting, sales, and taxation, both business and consumer. I liked risk management, too.

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?

Tercero: I spend my free time with family, friends, and pets. I play piano, have lazy days, and travel when I can. I enjoy the beach—no wonder I couldn’t leave California. I have been picking up reading more than usual.

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

Tercero: Having a purpose in mind and knowing what you want in the end is important, so write it down. During your course of studying and learning, you will begin to think about it. You might not know it right away, although some do. For me it was to work in investigations and financial crimes in the financial services industry. I needed to specialize in a field where I could use my background and passion in fighting and preventing fraud to find out the why, where, when, how, and who.

I suggest looking at the resources and career Web pages on the ACFE’s website. I built my profile, added my résumé, joined my local chapter, and got acquainted with the types of jobs out there for CFEs. Coming across people that I otherwise would not have met is rewarding.

When studying, take breaks, walk/exercise, and breathe. It’s okay to sigh and get oxygen to the brain. Recoup and then get back to studying; your mind will be more alert. Learn what time is best for you to study, and try to be consistent with that time.