Rachel Buse
 
 
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Rachel Buse

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Management Consulting & Business Valuation Manager

Eide Bailly LLP

Sioux Falls, SD

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CPAs Certified in Financial Forensics

Q&A with Rachel Buse, CPA/ABV/CFF

Snooping, sleuthing and scrutinizing. When you deal in financial forensics, it’s all in a day’s work. Find out what it’s really like to go undercover, testify in a court of law and catch fiscal rascals from Rachel Buse, a CPA who knows all about sniffing out financial fishiness.


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ThisWayToCPA:  Hello everyone. Our panelist, Rachel Buse will join us shortly. We will get started right around 2 p.m. Feel free to start submitting your questions.

Thursday September 15, 2011 01:54

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hello everyone and thanks for joining our chat today! I'm excited to be here!

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:00

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ThisWayToCPA:  Thanks for joining us, Rachel! Rachel Buse is a CPA who is Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF). This means she is a licensed expert who searches though financial statements to see if someone is cooking the books. Testifying in court and catching the culprits is part of the day-to-day life for this CPA. Rachel, tell us a little about your background.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:00

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  I started in our audit department and did that for a few years until I had the opportunity to transition to our Forensics and Valuation department - and I have been full-steam ahead ever since.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:01

Question

Victoria:  What are your day to day duties like?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:02

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Victoria! That is a great question and one I really don't have a definite answer to. My duties vary day to day based on my case load. One day I could be in Court or at a deposition; one day I could be speaking to a group of attorneys; one day could be spent in meetings with clients or potential clients; and one day could be spent doing work or reviewing work my associates have done. I love it because there is so much variety!

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:04

Question

Victoria:  What kind of cases do you typically have?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:05

What's your major or perspective major?

Accounting/public accounting
( 50% )
Business administration
( 40% )
Forensic accounting
( 10% )
Economics
( 0% )
Other
( 0% )

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:06

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Again a great question. I focus on both business valuation and forensics and much of my case load has to do with family law. This means that I perform business valuations and testify as to their value and I also do many investigative cases where I research marital assets to make sure one spouse isn't hiding assets. I also get involved in embezzlement cases and economic damages cases. During busy season, I do work with our audit staff on SAS 99 and goodwill impairment testing.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:08

Question

Lucy:  What do you do when you are at court?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:09

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ThisWayToCPA:  Curious about what a day in the life of a Valuation and Forensics Services Manager would be like? Check out Rachel’s hour by hour on her AICPA profile: http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/profession/profiles/rachel-buse/

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:10

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the question Lucy! Typically if a case makes it to Court I am there as an expert witness and called to testify about a report that I have written. There are many times also when I may be asked to attend the testimony of the opposing expert witness so I can help the attorney who has hired me ask intelligent cross exam questions or provide other expert insight.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:11

Question

Kelsen:  Hi Rachel, I would like to know the difference between the CFF & the CFE. It almost sounds the same.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:11

Will you pursue a career in accounting forensics and valuation?

Who wouldn’t want to catch the bad guys?
( 85% )
I’m not sure. I don’t know that much about it
( 14% )
I’m just trying to pass my classes and then the exam.
( 0% )
It’s really not my thing.
( 0% )

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:13

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Kelsen and that is a great question! I currently have the CFF designation and I am working on my CFE designation now. The credentials are very similar; however, to obtain the CFF credential through the AICPA you first need to be a licensed CPA. Thus a major difference between the two credentials is that a CFF will necessarily have an accounting background while a CFE does not always meet the same requirement. Additionally, the CFF credential focuses on a wide range of areas, such as economic damages, bankruptcy, family law in addition to the traditional forensics areas of prevention, detection, and deterrance. The CFE focuses primarily on these three traditional forensics areas. Both credentials are very good and have their pros and cons. If you are not an accounting major and do not intend to obtain your CPA, the CFE credential may be a better career choice for you. Just remember with any designation or credential you obtain, it is important to make sure it requires a test/exam and continuing education requirements and is more than just an application you filled out.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:16

Question

Charles:  Do you think it's important to have other certifications (outside of the CPA) when you're a forensic accountant?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:16

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ThisWayToCPA:  On your way to becoming Certified in Financial Forensics? Make sure you know the requirements: http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/ForensicAndValuation/Membership/Pages/Overview%20Certified%20in%20Financial%20Forensics%20Credential.aspx

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:18

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the question Charles, and yes I do think it is important to have other certifications outside of the CPA license when practicing as a forensic accountant. The primary reason for this is that the CPA exam and materials do not focus on valuation or forensics and thus just obtaining your CPA license does not mean you have the education or experience in this specialized area. I would encourage additional education and credentials that can provide a much better background or information on fraud prevention/detection techniques or on valuation/finance that are over and above what a traditional CPA is expected to know. The Courts and the IRS have become much more competent of the education required of a CPA and that obtained when having other credentials, and in many cases it is almost becoming a requirement to have a forensic or valuation credential if you want to be viewed as an expert in Court.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:21

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ThisWayToCPA:  Interested in working in financial forensics? Get your feet wet and earn $10,000 in this year’s 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition. Hurry, because submissions are due on September 30th! https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/accounting-competition/2011/

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:21

Question

Ruth:  What's your favorite part of being in fraud and forensics?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:22

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ThisWayToCPA:  Fraud and forensics stories are always in the news. Check out this link from CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2011/BUSINESS/09/15/switzerland.bank.lost/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:24

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Ruth! I love your question because I really enjoy what I do....and I'm not sure I can name one favorite part! I love the diversity of the cases that I work on and also that each case presents a new challenge or something new to learn. I also enjoy that I can manage my case load and can make most of my work days flexible so I can accomodate time with my family. And, of course, there is always a bit of a thrill when you find that piece of evidence that can really make or break the case!!

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:24

Question

Aggie:  What are the qualities of job candidate forensic company is usually looking for?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:25

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ThisWayToCPA:  Now is a good time to go forensic: From 2006-2009, the number of reported corporate fraud cases rose 175%. Somebody has to fight this rising trend. Source: Journal of Accountancy

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:27

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Aggie and I love your question. I don't know if I can speak for all forensic accounting firms, but I can at least tell a little bit about the people we like to hire and interview at mine. You need to have very good oral and written communication skills, be self-motivated, and have excellent critical thinking and professional skepticism skills. The main thing is to be able to think big picture and be able to explain complex ideas to an audience that does not aways have your background. We also like to see some sort of finance or accounting background - and for me personally I love to hire people who are internally motivated to succeed.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:28

Question

Amy:  Did your audit experience help a lot with your transition to forensic accounting? Do you recommend a solid audit background before jumping to forensic?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:28

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ThisWayToCPA:  Read more on how to make yourself an attractive job candidate here:
http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/career-tools/jobs-internships/what-accounting-employers-want/

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:31

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Amy and thanks for the great question. Yes, I feel my audit experience helped me immensely with my transition to forensic and valuation services. I was familiar with financial statements and assessing risk for companies, and it really gave me the big picture background to be able to focus on areas of fraud risk for our clients. Personally, I think it is a major help to anyone interested in fraud or forensics to have had some experience in audit or tax, or working in industry in an accounting department. This can give you insight into how a company works and where the primary areas of risk are, but it also helps you understand financial statements and what affects them, which is really important.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:32

Question

Charles:  Are there specific regions that forensic accounting jobs are more available?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:33

• A big part of Rachel’s job is to keep herself on the radar with local attorneys, CPAs and other professionals for referrals. What are you all doing to network?

Attending career fairs
( 0% )
Participating in professional clubs and organizations
( 80% )
Joining student activity groups
( 20% )
I’m not worried about networking right now, just trying to pass my classes
( 0% )

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:33

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ThisWayToCPA:  Obtaining the most highly prized skills and certifications can get expensive, but you may be able to get help paying for it – from your Uncle Sam. See more in Training Grants and You: A White Paper for Employers and Job Seekers. http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/elements/media/files/training-grants-and-you-expansion-through-career-development.pdf

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:35

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the question Charles! I'm not sure if I have a specific answer for you as to regions where jobs may be more available, but overall I do know that the ACFE did research and it is estimated that 5% of annual company revenue goes to fraud losses (and for 2010 this fraud loss for the US would have been $735 billion). Thus the demand for forensic accountants is in the rise, especially with SAS 99 and Sarbanes-Oxley, a country that is inclined to litigation, and a down economy usually gives employees additional reasons to commit fraud. My company did some research of 100 fraud cases we were involved in during 2010, the area with the most fraud losses was the South West and South Central Regions.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:37

Question

Jacob:  Is the work requirement very heavy? Do you still have time to have a personal life of sorts?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:38

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Thursday September 15, 2011 02:39

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Jacob and thanks for the question.....although maybe my husband and kids should be here to answer it as I'm sure they'd have an opinion! :) There are times when a court or discovery deadline may keep you in the office and there are times when I travel for several days at a time. Other than that, I have found ways to manage my schedule and case load so that I can also enjoy having a personal life.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:41

Question

Andrew:  I'm an accounting major, and most of my professors are recommending that I get a Masters in Accounting before taking the CPA exam and trying to find a job. Do you think that a Masters in Accounting is becoming a requirement to get a good job in today's market?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:42

Are you planning to participate in this year’s 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition?

Absolutely! I was the first to sign up
( 0% )
Why not? I could use $10k!
( 0% )
Maybe… I’m not sure who would be on my team
( 66% )
What is the 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition?
( 33% )

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:42

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ThisWayToCPA:  The 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition asks college students to flex their fraud and forensic skills in advising a client on a major overseas expansion. The top three teams strut their stuff in Washington D.C., and the one that does the best job keeping the project on track — and on the right side of the law — gets a very legal $10,000.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:45

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi Andrew and another great question! I personally do not have the MPA and actually went back to school to get my MBA after obtaining my CPA license - but I also had enough credit hours to sit for the exam without have the graduate level of education. I think today's job market is becoming much more competitive and I myself believe in being continually educated or learning something new. Personally, I feel that having some actual experience (i.e. an internship or actual work experience) in public accounting is probably one of the best prep areas for the CPA exam and for obtaining a career in today's market. I don't know if I have a definite answer for you: we do have several people in our firm who have their MPA, but also many who don't and it really didn't impact their decision to be interviewed or hired.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:46

Question

Amy:  You've mentioned that your work days can be flexible which allows you to accommodate family time. Did you see a huge improvement over your work-life balance while you were in audit? Do you personally think that forensic offers more for individuals with families?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:47

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Thursday September 15, 2011 02:48

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ThisWayToCPA:  Check out more at: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/accounting-competition/2011/

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:49

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the question Amy! I did see an improvement in my work-life balance over audit as my "busy" time and travel are more spread out throughout the year rather than being condensed into a 3-4 month period. However, on the other side I am very busy year round (which I enjoy) and sometimes in audit you get to enjoy a little bit of "down time" during certain months of the year depending on the firm you work for. I think that you can make any career in public accounting work for you and your family - personally working in forensics and valuation is individually rewarding for me and allows me flexibility so it was a good choice for me.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:49

Question

Charles:  You mentioned how Sarbanes-Oxley affected the forensic accounting profession. Do you think IFRS will also have an impact?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:50

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  You are just coming up with all kinds of great questions today Charles! Yes, I do think the IFRS will have an impact on forensic accounting as it will affect the financial statements and the procedures required by auditors. Overall, I think we have seen increased demand on the use of forensic accountants to be involved in audit procedures and I don't think that will go away any time soon.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:52

Question

Guest:  I just got started in accounting, it has come easy to me so far. When did it get to be challenging for you in school?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:53

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the question! Accounting was one of those areas that came naturally to me - which is why I switched majors as I was originally a nursing student. I think the most challenging area is actually applying what you know. Learning theories is one thing, but actually being able to apply them to a situation or an audit or tax engagement is entirely different.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:54

Question

Amy:  Thanks for the previous responses! I plan to register for the Graduate Forensic Certificate offered by Golden Gate University/SF after I graduate next year. Do you think that I should concentrate in reviewing for CPA exam first or would forensic classes help in some ways as well?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:55

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks for the questions Amy. The answer to this question really depends on what your ultimate career goal is. The nice thing about the CPA exam structure now is that you can take one piece at a time. However, your forensics classes will probably not help you with any of that review since not much of the CPA exam material covers forensic services.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:57

Question

James:  Are your investigations ever dangerous?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:57

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ThisWayToCPA:  Our chat time is coming to an end. Thanks for all your great questions. You can read more about Rachel and the day-to-day world of fraud and forensics here: http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/profession/profiles/rachel-buse/

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:58

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Hi James and great question.......but the answer to that one is a no. Since I deal more with financial documents I don't really get put into dangerous situations. There have been a few questionable situations and there are times when we go undercover on-stie to a client to view how the employees handle their jobs responsibilities/cash/clients, etc. but I have never felt as though I was in harm's way.

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:59

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ThisWayToCPA:  Interested in working in financial forensics? Get your feet wet and earn $10,000 in this year’s 2011 AICPA Accounting Competition. Hurry, because submissions are due on September 30th! https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/accounting-competition/2011/?

Thursday September 15, 2011 02:59

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ThisWayToCPA:  Rachel, thank you so much for your time and insights. Thanks again to everyone who posted questions. Feel free to post additional questions about forensic accounting on our wall. Thanks everyone!

Thursday September 15, 2011 03:01

Question

Charles:  Thanks so much for your answers, Rachel!

Thursday September 15, 2011 03:01

Question

Lucy:  Thank you, Rachel! I'm excited about getting into forensic accounting :)

Thursday September 15, 2011 03:01

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Rachel Buse-Flaskey:  Thanks everyone for the great questions!

Thursday September 15, 2011 03:01

Question

Bret:  Thanks, Rachel

Thursday September 15, 2011 03:01