American Board of Forensic Accounting – New Board Chairperson Sets Sights on Accreditation
Forensic accounting is one of the fastest growing fields in the financial industry, creating a lot of opportunity for qualified CPAs looking to enter the field. It’s an exciting practice area combining business knowledge and financial savvy with a bit of detective work. It also requires knowledge of statistical analysis and excellent writing skills.
Success in the forensic accounting field requires top-notch education and certification programs that help potential clients identify qualified forensic accountants and just as importantly, weed out the unqualified individuals trying to take financial advantage of a growing industry.
The American Board of Forensic Accounting is one of the leading organizations providing certification and continuing professional education for forensic accountants. The Board is part of the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute (ACFEI) and off ers the Certifi ed Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) designation. Th e ACFEI is the parent organization representing forensic examiners in a wide array of forensic professions, including accounting, engineering, medical, scientific and many other fields of study.
Newly-Elected Board Chairman Focused on Accreditation
Robert K. Minniti, CPA, Cr.FA, CFE, CVA, CFF was recently elected to a two year term to lead the American Board of Forensic Accounting as chairperson. He brings 25 years of experience and has practiced in several areas of accounting. He is the President of Minniti, CPA LLC, a forensic accounting firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to running his practice, Minniti teaches graduate-level accounting courses at DeVry University, Grand Canyon University and the University of Phoenix.
He also teaches continuing professional education courses throughout the United States on forensic accounting and fraud for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and teaches continuing professional education courses for the Arizona Society of CPAs.
Minniti grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army during which he served in West Berlin. He raised three children as a single father while attending graduate school in the evenings. He is very involved in the North Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and believes in giving back to local charities such as OCJ Kids and Arizona Helping Hands.
Minniti said much of his two-year term as Chairman of the American Board of Forensic Accounting will be devoted to gaining accreditation for the board’s Certificate in Forensic Accounting and helping to gain a wider recognition of the designation. He would also like to grow the membership base of the organization and start establishing local chapters where forensic experts from multiple disciplines can network and share leads and their experiences.
“The ACFEI has educational programs designed to teach people how to become forensic experts,” Minniti explained, adding that certification doesn’t come easily. “You learn about court procedures, rules of evidence, presenting evidence, writing reports, and how to testify in court. You can’t earn the Certified Forensic Accountant designation unless you are already a licensed CPA in good standing with your state Board of Accountancy.”
The strict process is meant to ensure that every accountant who earns the Cr.FA designation is highly qualified and prepared to conduct forensic investigations and enter the courtroom as an expert witness. Certified Forensic Accountants provide expert witness testimony on business valuation issues, economic damage calculations, fraud investigations, and financial statement and accounting issues.
“I have worked with Robert in facilitating the American Board of Forensic Accounting activities since May of 2010,” said ACFEI Registrar Pam Arnold. “He is a professional and dedicated to advancing the field of forensic accounting and the membership base.”
Minniti not only works in the forensic accounting field, he also gives back to the profession by teaching graduate level accounting courses in forensic accounting, fraud, ethics, audit and tax, to name just a few. He believes in passing on the knowledge he has gained throughout his career to those now entering the profession. He said the Cr.FA certification offered by the American Board of Forensic Accountants has opened a lot of doors for him as it is a respected credential for qualified forensic accounting professionals. Minniti is a believer in lifelong learning and is currently writing his doctoral dissertation for Walden University.
“The ACFEI has very rigorous standards for granting credentials,” Minniti said. “We are constantly reviewing all our certification exams to ensure they meet the highest standards in the industry and even set up a committee of certified professionals to help write questions for the exams. You can’t have stale, dated questions on a certification examination so we are constantly revamping the exam to make sure it covers the most recent developments in the industry.”
This scrutiny and attention to academic detail helps to ensure the organization is held to a higher standard and will make its goal of achieving accreditation within the next two years.
The material covered by the Cr.FA exam goes far beyond what is included on the CPA examination, providing documentation that those who have passed the exam have the knowledge and advanced skill set needed to be successful in this complex field. Becoming a Certified Forensic Accountant enhances an accountant’s reputation while showcasing a specific set of highly developed skills.
Earning the Cr.FA Designation
Professionals who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and hold a current CPA license are eligible to take the examination to become a Certified Forensic Accountant. Applicants must also provide three professional letters of reference documenting their experience in the field and agree to be held to a very high ethical standard.
Through continuing professional education and exam training offered by the ABFA, professionals in the accounting field will learn how to implement the most advanced techniques to conduct forensic investigations in multiple areas including searching for hidden assets, money laundering, business valuations, economic damage calculations, compliance audits and fraud investigations.
The 100 question certification examination covers all the key elements considered necessary to ensure those who pass the exam are highly qualified to uncover the truth and express opinions as expert witnesses.
Bringing Forensic Professionals Together
As an arm of the American College of Forensic Examiners, the ABFA is part of a network of forensic experts belonging to many fields of practice, from civil engineers to law enforcement. The term forensic examiner refers to a professional who performs analysis, inspection and examination in an effort to come to the truth and offer an expert opinion in court.
“You have forensic experts in almost any field,” Minniti said. “Members of the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute are experts in their fields and are able to work with an attorney in litigation.”
Forensic experts work closely with the legal community to help gather evidence and testify in court. The ACFEI has played a crucial role in bringing the legal community and forensic professionals together.
“The overall goal of the ACFEI is to be the premier institution for advancing professional standards, education and credentialing through a network of dedicated, highly trained and diverse practitioners who promote professionalism both nationally and internationally,” Arnold said.