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What is the CFF credential?

The Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF®) credential is a strategic way to distinguish yourself as an expert in bankruptcy, insolvency, litigation support, family law support services and more — and is the fastest-growing specialty area for forensic professionals.

Why is the CFF credential valuable?

Financial forensics is one of the fastest-growing specialty areas for accounting and finance professionals — and credentialed forensic practitioners are in demand. Whether examining fraudulent activity or serving as an expert witness, as a CFF credential holder, you will be held in high regard for executing litigation and investigative support services.

Why is the CFF credential valuable?

Financial forensics is one of the fastest-growing specialty areas for accounting and finance professionals — and credentialed forensic practitioners are in demand. Whether examining fraudulent activity or serving as an expert witness, as a CFF credential holder, you will be held in high regard for executing litigation and investigative support services.

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There are four pathways for obtaining the CFF® credential: The CFF Standard Pathway, the CFF Certificate Pathway, the CFF Experienced Pathway and the CFF Reinstatement Pathway.

2

You’ll have opportunities to purchase the educational materials and exam products for the pathway you selected.

3

Requirements include completing the education, passing the exam(s) and achieving the experience.

4

When you apply for the credential and if you are not an AICPA member, you’ll be prompted to include the appropriate type of membership.

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There are four pathways for obtaining the CFF® credential: The CFF Standard Pathway, the CFF Certificate Pathway, the CFF Experienced Pathway and the CFF Reinstatement Pathway.

2

You’ll have opportunities to purchase the educational materials and exam products for the pathway you selected.

3

Requirements include completing the education, passing the exam(s) and achieving the experience.

4

When you apply for the credential and if you are not an AICPA member, you’ll be prompted to include the appropriate type of membership.

CFF Body of Knowledge

The CFF credential program is built around the following content areas:

  • Core knowledge, information and skills

  • Core practice areas

The CFF Body of Knowledge is a great starting point to assess your CFF knowledge and experience.

Which pathway for the CFF credential is best for you?

CFF Standard Pathway

Global Standard CFF Pathway

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The CFF® credential positions you for success with the growing demand for accounting expertise in litigation and investigative services.

The CFF credential demonstrates your expertise in:

  • Fraud detection, prevention and response
  • Financial statement misrepresentation
  • Digital forensics
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency
  • Damages calculations and dispute resolution
  • Expert witness services
  • Investigations
  • Family law services

If these areas of expertise appeal to you, earning the CFF credential is a strategic way to distinguish yourself.

Requirements:

  • Maintain AICPA membership in good standing
  • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license or certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority
  • Pass the CFF examination
  • Attest to meeting the minimum business experience and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

Once requirements are met, you’re ready to apply online for the credential.

The CFF credential positions you as an expert and can lead to greater revenue opportunities. In addition to the prestige that comes along with obtaining this credential, you’ll have access to valuable tools and resources:

From $199 /yr

Apply For Global Standard CFF Pathway

CFF Reinstatement pathway

Certificate CFF Pathway

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The CFF® credential positions you for success with the growing demand for accounting expertise in litigation and investigative services.

The CFF credential demonstrates your expertise in:

  • Fraud detection, prevention and response
  • Financial statement misrepresentation
  • Digital forensics
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency
  • Damages calculations and dispute resolution
  • Expert witness services
  • Investigations
  • Family law services

If these areas of expertise appeal to you, earning the CFF credential is a strategic way to distinguish yourself.

Requirements:

  • Maintain AICPA membership in good standing
  • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license or certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority
  • Pass the CFF examination
  • Attest to meeting the minimum business experience and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

Once requirements are met, you’re ready to apply online for the credential.

The CFF credential positions you as an expert and can lead to greater revenue opportunities. In addition to the prestige that comes along with obtaining this credential, you’ll have access to valuable tools and resources:

From $199 /yr

Apply For Certificate CFF Pathway

CFF Experienced Pathway

Experienced CFF Pathway

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The CFF® credential positions you for success with the growing demand for accounting expertise in litigation and investigative services.

The CFF credential demonstrates your expertise in:

  • Fraud detection, prevention and response
  • Financial statement misrepresentation
  • Digital forensics
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency
  • Damages calculations and dispute resolution
  • Expert witness services
  • Investigations
  • Family law services

If these areas of expertise appeal to you, earning the CFF credential is a strategic way to distinguish yourself.

Requirements:

  • Maintain AICPA membership in good standing
  • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license or certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority
  • Pass the CFF examination
  • Attest to meeting the minimum business experience and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

Once requirements are met, you’re ready to apply online for the credential.

The CFF credential positions you as an expert and can lead to greater revenue opportunities. In addition to the prestige that comes along with obtaining this credential, you’ll have access to valuable tools and resources:

From $199 /yr

Apply For Experienced CFF Pathway

CFF reinstatement pathway

Reinstatement CFF Pathway

Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)

The CFF® credential positions you for success with the growing demand for accounting expertise in litigation and investigative services.

The CFF credential demonstrates your expertise in:

  • Fraud detection, prevention and response
  • Financial statement misrepresentation
  • Digital forensics
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency
  • Damages calculations and dispute resolution
  • Expert witness services
  • Investigations
  • Family law services

If these areas of expertise appeal to you, earning the CFF credential is a strategic way to distinguish yourself.

Requirements:

  • Maintain AICPA membership in good standing
  • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA license or certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority
  • Pass the CFF examination
  • Attest to meeting the minimum business experience and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

Once requirements are met, you’re ready to apply online for the credential.

The CFF credential positions you as an expert and can lead to greater revenue opportunities. In addition to the prestige that comes along with obtaining this credential, you’ll have access to valuable tools and resources:

From $199 /yr

Apply For Reinstatement CFF Pathway

Benefits of obtaining the CFF credential

The CFF® credential recognizes your knowledge, skills and experience in forensic accounting, and you’ll gain access to additional benefits.

Professional recognition

Designatory letters highlight that you are a certified expert in your field


Professional recognition

Designatory letters highlight that you are a certified expert in your field

Demonstrated expertise

Your achievement and commitment to professional development elevates your status


Demonstrated expertise

Your achievement and commitment to professional development elevates your status

Credential marketing toolkit

Resources and tips for marketing yourself in a competitive environment


Credential marketing toolkit

Resources and tips for marketing yourself in a competitive environment

Digital badge

Visual representation to showcase your significant achievement on online platforms


Digital badge

Visual representation to showcase your significant achievement on online platforms

Inclusion in the Membership and Credential Holder Directory

Your name will be listed in the public’s No. 1 tool to search for credential holders


Inclusion in the Membership and Credential Holder Directory

Your name will be listed in the public’s No. 1 tool to search for credential holders

Extensive network and community

A community of peers and a wealth of networking opportunities with leaders


Extensive network and community

A community of peers and a wealth of networking opportunities with leaders

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

Do I have to be an AICPA member to apply for the credential?
Yes. Members in good standing can only use the CFF credential, which the AICPA exclusively grants.

Do I need an active CPA license to practice public accounting to become a 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.

You do not need to have an active CPA license. You must hold a valid and unrevoked CPA certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority and meet prescribed requirements.

Do I need to be an FVS Section member to apply to become a CFF credential holder?
No. You need to be an AICPA member in good standing and meet the valid and unrevoked CPA certificate requirement. CFF credential holders receive complimentary FVS Section membership.

If I don’t meet the requirements to become a 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 CFF credential?
Current pricing is listed on the membership dues page.

Forensic accounting experience

What are some examples of qualifying experience?
Forensic accounting services as described under the Business Experience Requirement section of the CFF Handbook.

The following examples qualify to fulfill the experience requirement:

  • Experience performing forensic accounting services as an employee of an accounting or financial services firm (i.e., a consulting firm, litigation support firm, private equity firm, investment bank, government agency, business and industry, etc.)

  • Experience performing forensic accounting services for litigation and arbitration (including bankruptcy, commercial litigation, marital dissolution, etc.)

Does a CPA or CFF (or equivalent credential holder) need to review the analysis and work product of the candidate need 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 CFF. The candidate qualifies if they have completed the required level of experience stated in the Business Experience Requirement section of the CFF Handbook.

Note: candidates should be aware that applications are selectively audited to ensure compliance with the CFF credential requirements.

CFF Exam

Can I take the CFF Exam before I complete the education and experience requirements for the CFF credential?
Yes. There is no time limit in terms of when you complete the exam and when you apply for the CFF credential. However, when you do apply, only /CFF-related education and experience in the last five years can be used to meet the education and experience requirements for the 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.

Will calculators be admitted into the examination room?
No. There are no complex questions that require calculators.

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 continuously throughout the year either online or at Kryterion test centers throughout the United States and Canada.

Where are the test centers located for the CFF Exam?
The CFF Exam is hosted online or 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. Results are issued as either “pass” or “fail,” indicating whether the exam-taker meets this minimum threshold.

The CFF Exam is designed to psychometrically assess whether candidates have a sufficient base level comprehension of the CFF Body of Knowledge.

How long is the grading process and when do exam candidates find out if they passed or failed?
The CFF Exam results are available immediately upon completion of the exam.

What materials does the AICPA recommend to study for the CFF Exam?
Our recommendation is that test candidates do not solely rely on one resource to prepare for the exam and that they use the numerous materials prescribed along the CFF Roadmap to become a CPA/CFF credential holder. Here is a list of materials the AICPA recommends exam candidates use to fully prepare for the exam.

  • CFF Exam Content Specification Outline — Provides the full forensic body of knowledge and the resources the exam questions are based upon

  • CFF Examination Review Course — Advanced level course available in self-study targeting those areas that will be tested in the CFF Exam

  • 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 fundamental knowledge of the legal system, gathering information, discovery, reporting, providing expert testimony and more.

  • The Core and Specialized Forensic Accounting Certificate Programs – These may be taken separately to obtain knowledge about particular topics, or they may be taken together in satisfaction of the 75 hours of forensic accounting CPE required for CFF credential application.

Note: the level of preparation may vary by individual based upon the level of education and experience a candidate already has.

If a candidate only took the CFF Exam Review Course, how prepared would the candidate be to take the exam?
The AICPA highly recommends candidates not rely solely on information the CFF Exam Review Course provides. 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.

General

If I am a CFF, do I automatically become a Forensic & Valuation Services Section member?
No. The FVS section and the CFF credential section are now separate memberships.

I have applied for the CPA/CFF credential. What happens next?
Please allow up to two weeks for your CFF application to be reviewed. Once the application has been approved and payment has been accepted, our new CFF members are issued a welcome letter with instructions for accessing your digital/printable CFF Credential.

Currently:

  • Members are not authorized to use the CFF credential until they receive notice of the rules of the state in which they practice.

  • At the applicant’s request, their state society will be notified so the information can be promoted in state society newsletters.

  • Information will be sent to the successful candidate about a digital badge that can be used and instructions on how to download and print a certificate.

Note: in some cases, applicants may be required to provide additional information in support of their application.

Does the AICPA audit CFF applications?
All approved applications are subject to random audit at any time. False or incorrect applications may result in suspension or revocation of CFF eligibility and/or credential.

How does the CFF credential differ from other forensic accounting credentials?
The 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 CFF offer 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 CFF credential?
Credential holders must pay the annual fee and meet annual CFF recertification requirements (prices are subject to change):

  • Hold an AICPA membership in good standing.

  • Hold a valid and unrevoked CPA permit, certificate or license issued by a legally constituted state authority or other recognized equivalent.

  • 20 hours of CPD related to the CFF body of knowledge*

  • Submission of a signed Statement of Intent to comply with all recertification requirements. CFF credential holders will be instructed to report their recertification requirements at the appropriate time.

*A resource page on this topic is at aicpa.org/credsupport. This webpage includes important details related to continuing professional development, credential recertification requirements, a glossary of terms and an FAQ. For questions specific to recertification requirements, you may email our staff at: credsupport@aicpa.org.

What happens if my job changes or other professional or personal circumstances precludes me from meeting the recertification requirements promptly?
Credential holders may request in writing to be placed on inactive status. The Accreditations Department will review all requests on a case-by-case basis and a final determination made.

Under what conditions may a 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 later

  • Or other circumstances as agreed upon by the Accreditations Department and the individual.

Your CFF certification will be revoked if recertification requirements are not met within the specified time period. This excludes the examination that must be met again to regain the credential.

Credential holders may request to be placed on inactive status. Such a request must be submitted in writing. The Accreditations Department will review all requests on a case-by-case basis and a final determination made.

What is the effect of being on Inactive Status?
Following are the effects of being on Inactive Status:

  • Inactive 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 CFF credential holders cannot hold themselves out as a CFF credential holder and will not be included in any geographic listing of CFF holders.

  • Inactive CFF credential holders will not receive special offers accorded those holding the CFF credential.

How do you restore Active Status after being on Inactive Status?
Inactive 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, reinstatement and application fees 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 CFF credential (not the date of the exam).

For example, if you received the CFF credential Dec. 12, 2021, you would need to complete the continuing education and membership renewal requirements by Dec 31, 2022. You will be required to attest to your re-certification qualifications when renewing annually online.

Use of the CFF credential

What is the correct use of the CFF credential?
The use of 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 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 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, email 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 violate 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 CFF on its letterhead and in marketing materials?
The CFF is an individual credential and not a firm credential. It is permissible under AICPA Ethics Rule 502 for a firm to hold itself out as Certified in Financial Forensics and to use the CFF credential on its letterhead and in marketing materials only if all partners or shareholders of the firm have the CFF credential.

An individual member who holds the credential may use it after his or her name. CPA firms, please check with your state board of accountancy as state accountancy rules may impose other restrictions (if applicable).

If I am no longer a member of the AICPA, can I still use the CFF credential?
No. If your AICPA membership is terminated, you will no longer be able to use the CFF credential.

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