CPA/CFF Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 


    Eligibility
    • Do I have to be a member of the AICPA to apply for the credential?
    • Do I need an active CPA license to practice public accounting to become a CPA/CFF?
    • Do I need to be an FVS Section member in order to apply to become a CPA/CFF credential holder?
    • If I don’t meet the requirements to become a CPA/CFF credential holder, is there another way to get information about forensic accounting?
    • What is the initial pricing for the CPA/CFF credential?

    Forensic Accounting Experience
    • What are some examples of qualifying experience?
    • Does the analysis and work product of the candidate need to be reviewed by a CPA or CPA/CFF (or equivalent credential holder) in order to qualify to fulfill the experience requirement?

    CFF Exam
    • Can I take the CFF Exam before I complete the education and experience requirements for the CPA/CFF credential?
    • After I complete the CFF Exam, how long do I have to apply for the credential?
    • What is the cost of the CFF Exam?
    • What is the duration of the CFF Exam?
    • Will calculators be admitted into the examination room?
    • Do I still receive any credit for having another forensic accounting credential?
    • How do I register and when will I be able to take the exam?
    • Where are the test centers located for the CFF Exam?
    • Do exam results include numerical scores or just pass/fail results?
    • How long is the grading process and when do exam candidates find out if they passed or failed?
    • What materials are recommended by the AICPA to study for the CFF Exam?
    • If a candidate only took the CFF Exam Review Course, how prepared would the candidate be to take the exam?
    • What is covered in the live CFF Exam Review Course? Do candidates complete practice tests/questions?

    General
    • If I am a CPA/CFF, do I automatically become a member of the Forensic & Valuation Services Section?
    • I have applied for the CPA/CFF credential. What happens next?
    • Does the AICPA audit CPA/CFF applications?
    • How does the CPA/CFF credential differ from other forensic accounting credentials?

    Recertification
    • What is required to maintain the CPA/CFF credential?
    • What is the annual renewal price for the CPA/CFF credential?
    • What if my job changes or other professional or personal circumstances preclude me from meeting the recertification requirements in a timely manner?
    • Under what conditions may a CPA/CFF credential holder request Inactive Status?
    • What is the effect of being on Inactive Status?
    • How do you restore Active Status after being on Inactive Status?
    • How do you determine if continuing professional education (CPE) is related?
    • When does the initial three-year period for recertification begin?

    Use of the CPA/CFF Credential
    • What is the correct use of the CPA/CFF credential?
    • May I use the credential CFF by itself behind my name?
    • Can a firm include the credential "Certified in Financial Forensics" or "CPA/CFF" on its letterhead and in marketing materials?
    • If I am no longer a member of the AICPA, can I still use the CPA/CFF credential?

    Eligibility

    Do I have to be a member of the AICPA to apply for the credential?

    Yes. Only members in good standing with the AICPA can use the CPA/CFF credential. The CPA/CFF credential is granted exclusively by the AICPA.

    Do I need an active CPA license to practice public accounting to become a CPA/CFF?

    No. You must hold a valid and unrevoked CPA certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority and meet other prescribed requirements. You do not need to have an active CPA license.

    Do I need to be an FVS Section member in order to apply to become a CPA/CFF credential holder?

    No. You need to be an AICPA member in good standing and meet the valid and unrevoked CPA certificate requirement. CPA/CFF credential holders receive complimentary FVS Section membership.

    If I don’t meet the requirements to become a CPA/CFF credential holder, is there another way to get information about forensic accounting?

    Yes. You may join the FVS Section – the only requirement is AICPA membership in good standing.

    What is the initial pricing for the CPA/CFF credential?

    The standard initial pricing for the CPA/CFF credential is $360 unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed below:
    • If the job code in your AICPA profile is “Government”, then the initial price is $260.
    • If you hold the CPA/ABV credential, then the initial price is $150.
    • If you hold another AICPA credential, then the initial price is $260 (unless category #4 below applies with a lower price)
    • If you are a member of the FVS Section, then you will receive a credit for a pro rata portion of your remaining annual FVS membership fee. (The actual cost will be somewhere between the $360 standard price and $160 depending on the number of months remaining in your annual FVS membership period)

    Forensic Accounting Experience

    What are some examples of qualifying experience?

    As long as forensic accounting services performed by the analyst meet the definition of forensic accounting services described under the Business Experience Requirement section of the CFF Application Kit, the following examples qualify to fulfill the experience requirement:
    • Experience performing forensic accounting services as an employee of a financial services firm that is not an accounting firm (i.e., a consulting firm, litigation support firm, private equity firm, investment bank, etc.)
    • Experience performing forensic accounting services for the purpose of litigation and arbitration (including bankruptcy, commercial litigation, marital dissolution, etc.)
    Does the analysis and work product of the candidate need to be reviewed by a CPA or CPA/CFF (or equivalent credential holder) in order to qualify to fulfill the experience requirement?

    The work product of a sole practitioner, partner, or someone else in a role that does not require the review of a direct supervisor does not need to be reviewed by another qualified CPA/CFF. The candidate would qualify as long as he/she has successfully completed the required level of experience stated in the Business Experience Requirement section of the CFF Application Kit. However, the candidate should be aware that applications are selectively audited to ensure compliance with the CPA/CFF credential requirements.

    CFF Exam

    Can I take the CFF Exam before I complete the education and experience requirements for the CPA/CFF credential?

    Yes. There is no time limit in terms of when you successfully complete the exam and when you apply for the CPA/CFF credential. However, when you do apply, only CPA/CFF-related education and experience in the last 5 years can be used to meet the education and experience requirements for the CPA/CFF credential.

    After I complete the CFF Exam, how long do I have to apply for the credential?

    You can apply for the credential any time after completing the CFF Exam. We would encourage you to apply as soon as you qualify.

    What is the cost of the CFF Exam?

    The CFF Exam fee for new registrants is as follows: $300 for FVS Section members, $400 for AICPA members and $500 for non-AICPA members. “Early bird” registration discounts are available. Should you be required to retake the exam, a $100 fee will be assessed for the second registration process.

    What is the duration of the CFF Exam?

    The CFF Exam is a computer-based examination that lasts a total of 4 hours. The CFF Exam contains two areas of questioning: discrete multiple-choice questions and case studies with accompanying multiple-choice questions. There are a total of 175 questions.

    Will calculators be admitted into the examination room?

    No. There are no questions that involve complex calculations that would require a calculator.

    Do I still receive any credit for having another forensic accounting credential?

    The exam requirement is not waived for a person holding any other credential.

    How do I register and when will I be able to take the exam?

    Registration is available online. Registrants will receive a Notice to Schedule via email. The CFF Exam is administered twice a year during the summer and fall (July and November/December).

    Where are the test centers located for the CFF Exam?

    The CFF Exam is hosted at Kryterion test centers throughout the United States and Canada.

    Do exam results include numerical scores or just pass/fail results?

    Numerical score results are not included in results letters. The CFF Exam is designed to psychometrically assess whether candidates have a sufficient base level comprehension of the CFF Body of Knowledge. Therefore, results are issued as either “Pass” or “Fail” indicating whether the exam taker meets this minimum threshold.

    Failing candidates will receive additional performance indicators which display how well they performed in each of the content areas of the examination in comparison to those that passed the exam. This information is derived by determining the average performance of each passing candidate within the respective section and then performing a comparison of their results to the derived averages. The ‘WEAKER’, ‘COMPARABLE’, and ‘STRONGER’ classifications identify whether performance results were below average, the same as, or above average than the performance results of passing candidates in this area.     

    How long is the grading process and when do exam candidates find out if they passed or failed?

    The CFF Exam grading process begins immediately after the end of each exam window and can take up to two months. Results are distributed by email and US mail upon the conclusion of the grading process.

    What materials are recommended by the AICPA to study for the CFF Exam?

    Our recommendation is that test candidates do not solely rely upon one resource to prepare for the exam and that they utilize the numerous materials prescribed along the CFF Roadmap to become a CPA/CFF credential holder. The following is a list of materials the AICPA recommends exam candidates utilize to fully prepare for the exam. NOTE: The level of preparation may vary by individual based upon the level of education and experience a candidate already has.
    • CFF Examination Review Course – advanced level course available in self or group-study targeting those areas that will be tested in the CFF Exam
    • Candidate Study Plan - The AICPA’s FVS Section has developed a prescribed 4-month study plan for its CFF exam candidates. View the suggested study plan.
    • Fundamentals of Forensic Accounting Certificate Program - This comprehensive online CPE program provides participants with a solid understanding of financial forensics. Covering AICPA's entire body of knowledge on this topic, this program will help you become familiar with the forensic accountants' professional responsibility and provide a fundamental knowledge of: the legal system, gathering information, discovery, reporting, providing expert testimony and more.

    If a candidate only took the CFF Exam Review Course, how prepared would the candidate be to take the exam?

    The AICPA highly recommends that candidates do not rely solely upon the information provided in the CFF Exam Review Course. This review course is meant as a review only and is not a means for candidates to learn the material in the CFF Body of Knowledge. The additional preparation necessary would differ by individual based on prior education and experience.

    What is covered in the live CFF Exam Review Course? Do candidates complete practice tests/questions?

    A full description of the live CFF Exam Review Course can be found on our website. Individuals taking this course will receive a comprehensive overview of business valuation information covering the CFF Exam’s Content Specification Outline (CSO). The course also provides review questions on each section of the CSO.

    General

    If I am a CPA/CFF, do I automatically become a member of the Forensic & Valuation Services Section?

    Yes. All CPA/CFF credential holders are automatically enrolled as an FVS Section member, receiving all the benefits and information updates that membership includes.

    I have applied for the CPA/CFF credential. What happens next?

    Once documentation and payment have been submitted, the AICPA will review and issue a welcome letter if approved. At this time:
    • Individuals may use the CPA/CFF credential in accordance with the rules of the state in which they practice. Members are not authorized to use the credential until they receive this notice.
    • At the applicant’s request, their state society will be notified so the information can be promoted in state society newsletters.
    • A CPA/CFF certificate will be sent to the successful candidate.
    Note: In some cases, applicants may be required to provide additional information in support of their application.

    Does the AICPA audit CPA/CFF applications?

    Yes. A percentage of approved applications are selected for random audit. Any misrepresentations or incorrect information may result in disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of CPA/CFF eligibility and/or credential.

    How does the CPA/CFF credential differ from other forensic accounting credentials?

    The CPA/CFF credential is the only forensic accounting credential that is maintained by the AICPA, the membership organization for CPAs. Individuals holding the CPA certificate are perceived to be highly qualified, ethical, and well-trained professionals within the financial services industry and the overall business community. People who hold both the CPA and the CPA/CFF provide the business and legal community confidence in the services they provide and a perceived advantage over competing valuation credentials.

    Recertification

    What is required to maintain the CPA/CFF credential?

    Credential holders must pay an annual $360 fee and meet CPA/CFF recertification requirements every three years:
    • Maintain AICPA membership in good standing
    • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA certificate or license issued by a legally constituted state authority
    • Obtain at least 60 hours of forensic accounting-related education over the preceding three years (Note: Authoring or publishing articles is limited to 24 hours. Classes taught or lectures given are limited to 36 hours.)
    • Submit electronic intent to comply with all recertification requirements.

    What is the annual renewal price for the CPA/CFF credential?


    Credential renewal pricing is $360 for the first credential and $260 for each subsequent credential held. There are 2 exceptions:
    • If the job code in your AICPA profile is “Government,” then each credential has a renewal price of $260
    • If you hold both the CPA/CFF and CPA/ABV credentials, then the renewal price for the second one is $150 (instead of the standard $260)
      • Multiple credential examples:
      • If you hold the CPA/CFF and CPA/PFS, then your renewal price is $620 ($360 + $260) for both credentials.
      • If you hold the CPA/CFF and CPA/ABV, then your renewal price is $510 ($360 + $150) for both credentials.
      • If you hold the CPA/CFF, CPA/ABV and CPA/CITP, then your renewal price is $770 ($360 + $150 + $260) for all three credentials.

    What happens if my job changes or other professional or personal circumstances preclude me from meeting the recertification requirements in a timely manner?


    If recertification requirements are not met within the specified time period your CPA/CFF certification will be revoked and all initial requirements, excluding the examination, must again be met to regain the credential. Alternatively, credential holders may request to be placed on inactive status. Such a request must be submitted in writing. All requests will be reviewed by the Accreditations Department on a case by case basis and a final determination made.

    Under what conditions may a CPA/CFF credential holder request Inactive Status?

    Following are examples of the conditions under which inactive status may be granted:
    • The credential holder is not working due to retirement, unemployment or a medical condition;
    • The credential holder is no longer providing forensic accounting services, but intends to resume practice in the area at a later date; or
    • Other circumstances as agreed upon by the Accreditations Department and the individual.

    What is the effect of being on Inactive Status?

    Following are effects of being on Inactive Status:
    • Inactive CPA/CFF credential holders need not meet the work experience and continuing education requirements during the period in which their credential is inactive. However, they must maintain a valid state CPA license and be an AICPA member in good standing.
    • Inactive CPA/CFF credential holders cannot hold themselves out as a CPA/CFF credential holder and will not be included in any geographic listing of CPA/CFF holders.
    • Inactive CPA/CFF credential holders will not receive the newsletter, FVS Consulting Digest and other special offers accorded those holding the CPA/CFF credential.

    How do you restore Active Status after being on Inactive Status?

    Inactive CPA/CFF credential holders may restore Active Status by completing and returning the CFF Credential Reinstatement Application. Reinstatement applicants must meet the CPA license/certificate requirement and the education requirement to be reinstated. Reinstatement applicants do not need to re-qualify for the examination and experience requirements. In addition, a reinstatement and application fee of $460 must be paid.

    How do you determine if continuing professional education (CPE) is related?

    Related CPE adds to the credential holder's knowledge, understanding and skills to perform forensic accounting engagements. The CFF Credential Committee requires that the CPE be directly related to the conduct of a forensic accounting engagement and are considered to be part of a section of the body of knowledge as outlined in the CFF Content Specification Outline.

    When does the initial three-year period for recertification begin?

    The period begins at the end of the year you attained the CPA/CFF credential (not the date of the exam). For example, if you received the CPA/CFF credential December 12, 2004, you will need to complete the education, experience, and other recertification requirements by December 31, 2007. You will be required to state your re-certification qualifications online upon e-mail request.

    Use of the CPA/CFF Credential

    What is the correct use of the CPA/CFF credential?

    The use of "CPA/CFF" on letterheads, business cards and other marketing materials is governed by the rules of the board of accountancy in the state(s) in which you practice. The AICPA does not currently have a prescribed format for the credential.

    Most state accountancy laws are currently silent on whether CPAs can use the specialty credential. In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Ibanez case, which held that states couldn't prohibit a CPA from using a specialty credential, such as the CPA/CFF credential, unless there is factual proof of real or potential harm. If you check with your state board and run into a problem in using the credential, e-mail us at cff@aicpa.org.

    May I use the credential CFF by itself behind my name?

    Under the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct, utilizing the credential by itself would not cause a member to be in violation of Rule 102—Integrity and Objectivity (misrepresenting facts) or Rule 502—Advertising or Solicitation. Please check with your state board of accountancy as state accountancy rules may impose other restrictions.

    Can a firm include the credential "Certified in Financial Forensics" or "CPA/CFF" on its letterhead and in marketing materials?

    The CPA/CFF is an individual credential and not a firm credential. However, it is permissible under AICPA Ethics Rule 502 for a firm to hold itself out as Certified in Financial Forensics and to use the CPA/CFF credential on its letterhead and in marketing materials only if all partners or shareholders of the firm currently have the CPA/CFF credential. An individual member who holds the credential may use it after his or her name. Please check with your state board of accountancy as state accountancy rules may impose other restrictions.

    If I am no longer a member of the AICPA, can I still use the CPA/CFF credential?

    No. If your AICPA membership is terminated, you will no longer be able to use the CPA/CFF credential and your CPA/CFF certificate must be returned to the AICPA.



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