New Forensic Credential | AccountingWEB

New Forensic Credential

By Eva Lang - According to an AICPA press release dated May 19, 2008, AICPA Council has authorized the creation of a new CPA specialty credential in forensic accounting. The Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) will be the fourth of the Institute’s specialty credentials. The others are Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS), Accredited in Business Valuation (CPA/ABV) and Certified Information Technology Professional (CPA.CITP). It will be interesting to see if the AICPA has learned from its experience with prior credential programs and gives the CFF the necessary support to make it successful.

In 1997, the AICPA seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon of specialty credentials, introducing the Accredited in Business Valuation (CPA/ABV) and following that in 2000, with the Certified Information Technology Professional (CPA.CITP). These two credentials were approved after many years of having only a single specialty credential - Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS). But in 2003, all three specialty credentials appeared to be on the block when the AICPA stopped to re-examine the viability of the specialty programs. At that time, AICPA President Barry Melancon questioned “whether the institute should be in a credential area if that credential isn’t gaining market acceptance” and the AICPA circulated a resolution that would have put in place “exit strategies” for all three credentials.

An AICPA memo published in early 2003 criticized the PFS credential program for not attracting enough members, and admitted that the competing CFP (Certified Financial Planner) credential has far surpassed it in popularity and respect. The Certified Information Technology Professional Credential was attacked for not attaining its membership goals, with just about 500 credential holders by the end of 2002 “regardless of the absence of direct competition.” The memo noted that the Institute’s failure to sufficiently market and brand the CITP (as well as the PFS and ABV credentials) “are key reasons behind unmet membership goals.”

Following aggressive lobbying by advocates, AICPA Council voted in November 2003 to retain the credentials provided they were able to achieve a minimum number of credential holders by a certain date. The break-even point for the CITP and ABV was set at 1,700 and 2,700 respectively by July 31, 2008 while the PFS, was given the date of July 31, 2006 to reach 3,600 members.

Over the next five years, all the credential programs struggled but eventually succeeded in adding new converts. The ABV faced criticism for changing the admission criteria. Many AICPA members saw this as weakling the value of the credential by offering a level of reciprocity with other business valuation organizations and relaxing the testing requirement.

So as AICPA council authorizes a fourth credential, what has changed? Just as in the case with the PFS competition with CFP, the new CFF will face a much better known fraud credential in the Certified Fraud Examiner designation administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. While the AICPA has done more to promote the credentials in recent years, there is still much to be done to make the PFS, CITP, ABV, and CFF as widely known and respected as the CPA designation itself. Let’s hope that AICPA had learned its lesson about effectively supporting, positioning, and promoting the new credential. The forensic area is growing rapidly and the CFF can position CPAs as experts in this emerging field if managed properly. I am sure that existing credential holders like myself will be watching closely.

This blog

by Eva Lang - Eva Lang, aka BV Girl, is a member of the AICPA Business Valuation Hall of Fame. Eva discusses hot topics, practice management concerns, and technology issues that affect business valuation and litigation support practices.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.