By Cecily Raiborn, Ph.D., CFE, CPA, CMA
Austin Chapter President
When Jim Ratley announced his upcoming retirement at the Austin ACFE Chapter networking event on February 5, 2018, a great many of us were extremely surprised and even shocked. It seemed way too soon for Jim to leave the institution he co-founded with Dr. Joseph T. Wells and nurtured for years. While we all know the ACFE will be in great hands with Bruce Dorris, the change felt like the end of an era.
I moved to the Austin area from New Orleans in mid-2006 after Hurricane Katrina. Soon thereafter, I began teaching the graduate fraud prevention and detection course at Texas State University. I felt incredibly fortunate to have the ACFE headquarters in my backyard and who would have guessed that Jim Ratley would be one of the first speakers I’d have in my class? I’d never had the opportunity to listen to Jim before he came to my class. I say that emphatically because I could not have forgotten that booming voice, captivating Texas drawl, broad smile or terrific sense of humor. As a speaker, he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
After introducing himself as someone who was asked to leave the very university we were at because of what he would describe as “less than desirable grades,” Jim indicated that he did “get his act together” and earned his bachelor of business administration degree at UT-Dallas. He began to recount for the students his time on the Dallas Police Force and his fraud investigations at Wells & Associates. Each of his tales involved bad guys and bad actions but, more importantly, each had the same ending moral, one that Jim has spent his career living: fraud is an evil that needs to be found and destroyed.
Jim’s awards are numerous: the 2005 ACFE Cressey Award; one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today in 2012, 2013 and 2014; the 2014 Outstanding Contributor for his article in the June 2013 issue of Internal Auditor; and one of Security magazine’s Most Influential Security Executives in 2010. But you’d never know that Jim had so many honors under his belt. He is as down-to-earth a person as you could ever meet.
Upon hearing about his upcoming retirement, Dr. Carolyn Conn (an Austin Chapter CFE and Texas State colleague) suggested that the Austin Chapter do something special, such as get a proclamation from Mayor Steve Adler to honor Jim. The entire group of Austin Chapter Officers and board thought that was a wonderful idea and we were off to the races. After getting in touch with the right department in the city and obtaining assurance that we could get a proclamation for James D. Ratley Day, the only problem was that I was told to “considerably abridge” the laudatory remarks that I had sent to fit in the proclamation format. Hmmm…how does one condense Jim’s life to fit to a couple of sentences under four Whereas statements? It was difficult and, of course, so many of Jim’s valuable achievements and personal traits ended up missing from the proclamation. But, in a nutshell, here’s what we ended up with:
Be it known that
Mr. James D. Ratley is the co-founder, President, and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the premier global anti-fraud organization; and
Mr. Ratley was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting; and
Mr. Ratley has been certified as a Master Peace Officer by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education; and
Mr. Ratley has dedicated his career to detecting and deterring fraud as well as protecting citizens from, and educating individuals about, fraud;
I, Steve Adler, Mayor of the City of Austin, Texas,
do hereby proclaim
March 31th, 2018
James D. Ratley Day
In witness whereof, I have hereunto
set my hand and caused the seal of the City
of Austin to be affixed this 10th Day of
January in the Year Two Thousand Eighteen
The Austin Chapter wishes Jim a well-deserved retirement. We all know that, while he is now President Emeritus at the ACFE, he will be an ever-present part of our organization. And, as he pilots his plane from here to there, he will likely continue to keep an eagle’s watch for those who might try to engage in wrongful activities. Stepping away from the controls at the ACFE headquarters won’t change Jim’s life-long pursuit of the triumph of right over wrong.