How to Become a Certified Financial Examiner

Learn how to become a Certified Financial Examiner (CFE). Research the job description and the education requirements, and find out how to start a career in financial examining.

Do I Want to Be a Certified Financial Examiner?

Financial examiners review a company's financial records to ensure that they comply with existing laws and regulations. The two main areas that financial examiners work in are risk scoping and consumer compliance. Examiners often must travel to work sites. This is typically a full-time office job that requires great accuracy and attention to detail.

Job Requirements

Certified Financial Examiners (CFEs) typically hold a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related finance discipline and have completed the voluntary CFE test. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a Certified Financial Examiner, listed from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Accounting, economics, finance or a comparable discipline
Certification Must hold or concurrently pursue the Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) designation
Experience Three years or more experience as a financial examiner
Key Skills Math, analytics
Technical Skills Understanding of loans, balance sheets and bank management

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

Prior to taking the Society of Financial Examiners' (SOFE) Certified Financial Examiner test, individuals must pass the organization's Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) test. Individuals will need a bachelor's degree to pursue this designation, such as the Bachelor of Business Administration program with a concentration in accounting. These related programs generally include coursework in business, accounting, finance and economics. The SOFE also requires three semester hours of management courses or the equivalent. Without an accounting degree, a minimum of six semester hours in accounting is necessary to work for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Success Tip:

  • Research the requirements. Along with the SOFE requirements to become certified, these professionals will also have to meet any individual education requirements for financial examiner set by federal and state governments. It is important that aspiring financial examiners research the qualifications in their areas before pursuing a degree.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Once entering the finance field, on-the-job training is typically provided and may last anywhere from a month to a year. This training requires new hires to work under the supervision of a more experienced examiner. The AFE designation, which is required to pursue the CFE designation, requires proof of two years of continuous work experience in the insurance industry as a financial examiner or analyst. This experience can be applied to the three years that are required to become a CFE.

Step 3: Become a Member

Aspiring AFEs and CFEs must be SFE members in good standing before sitting for the examinations. Membership provides financial examiners with state, regional and national opportunities for continuing education and networking. Additionally, membership includes access to the SFE journal, which provides news about happenings in the field of financial examination.

Step 4: Take the Exams

After meeting all education and work requirements, individuals can sit for the examinations. On the AFE level, applicants must complete four tests, covering fundamentals of and accounting for life, health, property and liability insurance. The CFE credential requires passage of three exams that test applicants on exam methods and management, procedures in analysis and evaluation and reinsurance. Once awarded the CFE designation, a financial examiner must meet a set number of continuing regulatory education requirements each year.

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