How to Become a Certified Financial Examiner

Mar 09, 2020

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.

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Certified Financial Examiner

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Accounting, economics, finance or related field
Certification Must hold or concurrently pursue the Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) designation
Experience 3+ years experience as a financial examiner
Key Skills Math and analytical skills; understanding of loans, balance sheets, and bank management
Salary $90,310 (2018 mean for financial examiners)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2018)

Financial examiners review a company's financial records to ensure that the company in compliance with existing laws and regulations. The main areas in which financial examiners work are 'risk scoping' (evaluating the health of a financial institution) and 'consumer compliance' (monitoring the lending activity of financial institutions). Examiners often must travel to work sites. This is typically a full-time office job that requires great accuracy, integrity and attention to detail.

Financial examiner's must be skilled in math and analytics and have an understanding of loans, balance sheets and bank management. As of 2018, financial examiners made a mean annual salary of $90,310, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Let's look at the steps involved in becoming a certified financial examiner or CFE.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

To become a certified financial examiner, candidates must pass the Accredited Financial Examiner or AFE test. This test is administered by the Society of Financial Examiners (the SOFE). A bachelor's degree is needed to pursue this designation. Typically, the degree should be in the field of business administration with a concentration in accounting, though economics, finance, or a comparable discipline might be acceptable.

These programs generally include coursework in business, accounting, finance and economics. 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, a large employer of financial examiners.

Research the Requirements

Along with the SOFE certification requirements, 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

After entering the finance field, on-the-job training is typically provided and can 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 Certified Financial Examiner title, calls for at least 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 SOFE Member

Aspiring AFEs and CFEs must be SFEs 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: Earn the CFE Designation

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.

In summary, becoming a certified financial examiner requires earning a bachelor's degree, gaining work experience, becoming a member of the Society of Financial Examiners (SOFE) and passing both the AFE and CFE examinations.

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