By Laura J. Tucholski, CFE, CPA, CIA
(Editor's Note: Tucholski is the training director for the Maryland Chapter. The chapter holds several seminars each year in addition to an annual conference that draws more than 500 attendees.)
The ACFE Maryland Chapter promotes fraud prevention and detection through various seminars and an annual conference with acclaimed speakers from around the globe. Attendees of these events are able to earn CPE credits that can be used to maintain their CFE credentials; however a large number of our attendees also hold CPA licenses that require CPE as well.
The CPE credit awarded to CPAs in the U.S. is regulated by the each state’s respective Board of Accountancy. To ensure the uniformly high quality of CPE for CPAs, some state boards require CPE providers to comply with CPE standards set by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). (To determine the specific requirements for CPE providers in your state, including whether they must comply with NASBA standards, please check directly with your State Board of Accountancy.) In the past, our local chapter used ACFE Global’s NASBA provider number for reporting purposes. But, due to recent changes in NASBA standards, local chapters that want to offer NASBA-compliant CPE must obtain their own NASBA provider number if they wish for CPAs to be able to earn credit at their events.
Because numerous CPAs from many different states attend our events, we decided to pursue our own NASBA sponsor number. We had little knowledge of the NASBA requirements prior to filling out the application. We were performing most of the requirements informally, but we lacked documentation supporting compliance. During the application process, we learned a few things about compliance with NASBA:
1. Document, document, document. There must be a formal policy for each of the following: document retention (records of attendance, dates and location of events, instructor bios, evaluations, program materials and marketing materials), refunds and cancelations and course reviews. In addition, several specific items (e.g., the learning objectives, prerequisites, program level) must be included in all course advertisements.
2. Not all State Boards of Accountancy require training organizations to provide a NASBA provider number. Some State Boards of Accountancy do not require training providers to have NASBA numbers; however, if you are targeting out-of-state attendees, check the requirements of those states as well. In our situation, even though Maryland does not require a NASBA number for CPE providers, surrounding states do. We wanted our members to be able to use our training credits for reporting purposes.
3. At least one CPA’s participation is required in development of every program in accounting and auditing. Even though all of our board members and speakers are CPAs, CFEs and/or CIAs, not all are CPAs. If the speaker for an accounting or auditing course is not a CPA, NASBA requires the program sponsor to designate a CPA as the “reviewer” of course material to ensure quality training.
4. NASBA sponsorship costs money. However, the money is well worth it because you will be able to target a larger group of CPAs looking for quality training. As a local chapter, we wanted to be able to provide training to surrounding-area CPAs and, in the end, felt the benefit outweighed the cost of sponsorship.
5. You are the CPE watchdog. As a board, we previously took the stance that our members are professionals, and we should be able to rely on them to stay for an entire course. However, under NASBA’s rules, we must now monitor member attendance. This can consist of designating one person to watch and verify attendance or possibly having the instructors randomly give out passwords, which the participants must submit at the end of the course to verify attendance.
By obtaining our NASBA sponsorship, we now provide higher-quality training events for our members that not only provide information about the latest anti-fraud topics, but also fill their needs for continuing education to maintain their CPA licenses. While the process does take time and money, for our chapter the benefit outweighed these costs.