On Friday May 4th, Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association hosted its 5th semi-annual Alumni Night with fellow co-sponsors: ZTAX, GBAP, ZWIB, ZGAS, and ZUTS. The night began with great food, refreshments, and dessert. Following the meal was an interesting ice-breaker with 5 winners, each taking home a Starbucks gift card. Attendees continued with open networking, filling the room with light laughter. Participants continued to network long after the event formally ended. Needless to say, it was another successful semi-annual Alumni Night.
By John Chen
W. Valentine Douglas, who currently works as a Senior Forensic Accountant at the New York State Office of Inspector General, spoke with ZFAA on April 19, 2018. He was very articulate, well-informed, and inspiring.
He shared with us the definition of Forensic Accounting, stating that Forensic Accounting involves utilizing accounting skills to investigate financial crimes and preparing the findings for use in legal proceedings. He taught us the history of the field and explained the origin of the phrase “Forensic Accounting.” He emphasized the name of first Forensic Accountant in the US: T-men. Additionally, he spoke about some notable cases with subjects such as Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin, Ringling Brothers, William Fox, and Rubel Coal And Ice Corporation. We found these cases very interesting and insightful.
Furthermore, Valentine tied his knowledge of Forensic Accounting back to his experiences in White Collar Crime, frauds involved public corruption, healthcare, contract, public assistance and housing, labor, social services, education, and inspection services. Since the room was full of aspiring Forensic Accountants, he also shared with us the skill sets we would need to thrive in the field, which include but are not limited to: investigative, accounting, analytic/logical, physiological, communication, organizational, and legal. To wrap up the conversation, we discussed the future of Forensic Accounting. “Crimes are human behaviors that can only be solved by humans,” he quoted. Valentine believes that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot replace humans when it comes to solving problems in this area, but rather, AI can help indicate and point out the problems that need to be resolved.
In the end, we had the opportunity to ask questions. From his answers, in conjunction with his knowledge and experience, he shared during the main part of the event, there is no doubt that the students walked away with valuable insights that would help with their future work in Forensic Accounting.
by Grace Zhang, edited by Crystal Lam, Ginny Gao
On Friday, December 1st, the Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association, along with other graduate associations hosted another Alumni Night. The night was full of good music, great food, and a priceless chance to mingle with Baruch alum.
As people started to gather, they had the chance to help themselves to the delicious food and beautiful desserts while catching up with friends, old and new; meeting former Baruch students who are now working for various companies.
The event kicked off with a brief introduction and a game to get the crowd engaged and socializing.
Items written on paper were posted onto people’s backs and everyone had to go around and try to guess what was written on their back while talking to others.
The decorations and music created a fun atmosphere, but it was the conversations and the relaxed social aspect that made the night so special. There were Baruch graduates from many companies including EY, PwC and PayPal to name a few; it was a wonderful way to meet people who were in our positions and talk to them about their experiences. The whole event was a laid-back way to network with professionals, and not just any professionals, ones that attended Baruch and have gone on to be successful.
The Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association would like to thank all those who participated in the event, from planning and organizing it, to helping set up, and to those who chose to attend. As well as a huge thank you to the alumni who graciously accepted the invitation to come and spend the night with us.
By Stephanie Roberts
On Thursday, November 16, 2017, we welcomed back Cono Fusco as a guest speaker who gave us some insight on successful networking. In additional to the great networking advice, he shared crucial tips on career planning, communicating and taking control of your life and future.
Cono began by talking about his impressive background in accounting; sharing how he started in Grant Thornton when he graduated college and quickly became a partner, excelling in everything he did and moving him down different paths. From the start of his presentation, Cono emphasized the importance of taking risks for future opportunities, a recurring theme throughout his speech.
As far as networking, we learned how to describe ourselves through our aspiration, how to stand out by being interesting, and that we should go into a networking situation with a primary and secondary objective, and always leave with something. The key to success in Cono’s perspective, is in your own hands, you should be knowledgeable and prepared going into any situations and have a plan and to practice before hand; using what you have access to, to your advantage.
Communication was something Cono stressed, he said it is important to “be a quick listener and a slow talker,” that we need to hear people when they talk, listen, understand and respond appropriately. It gives you time to think about your answers and follow up questions while making you look engaged and interested.
Probably the most important and helpful part of Cono’s presentation were his lessons that not only applied to networking, but life and career advancement in general. He started by telling us about his recent trip to Croatia and how he started planning that trip 7 years ago. Cono explained the best way to get things accomplished is to write down our goals, dreams and aspirations on paper, and to cross them off as we achieve them. Plan on what you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now and then ask yourself what you need to do today and tomorrow to get there.
Overall, it was an insightful and interesting presentation informing us of successful tips for our futures.
By Stephanie Roberts, edited by John Chen
Dennis S. Neier, a Director of Litigation at Anchin and a Commercial Litigation Panelist of the American Arbitration Association, educated the audience on the various roles an accountant plays in a litigation and brought the room to life with flashbacks of his own experiences.
Dennis showed that accountants are not limited to litigations involving financials or tax; they play a role in every stage of a case. The purpose of the accountant might change as a case progresses, but the need for an accountant is constant. Dennis told stories of how at one stage, an accountant may try to discredit the opposing expert witness, and at another, he or she may try to mitigate the penalties of the client. After captivating the audience with all the possibilities of the Litigation practice, Dennis explained the qualifications of becoming an Expert Witness and the secrets of his success.
To be an expert witness, you must be educated, trained, certified, or possess the relevant skill or experience. Dennis differentiated an expert witness and a successful expert witness. To be a successful expert witness, you position yourself as an independent expert witness while in court. The wording of the answer you give is crucial and should not be taken lightly. Another word of advice Dennis gave was to answer the question asked, and to never divulge information beyond the scope of the question. Last but certainly not least, to be a successful expert witness, listening is key, especially when the lawyers are talking, be it directly or indirectly to you.
By John Chen, Edited by Crystal Lam
On Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017, the Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association was delighted to present "Forensic Accounting with Michael Schulstad". Michael Schulstad is a recurring speaker and friend of ZFAA and Baruch College, whose 25 years of experience as an FBI special agent and appointment as Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has continued to compel students every semester to consider career paths in law enforcement and forensic accounting.
Michael spoke of his most memorable criminal cases during the 28 years he was an FBI Special Agent. One of the cases involved massive identity and credit card fraud that transcended state lines and led agents to several casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada. The FBI was able to utilize its unique set of resources and authority to coordinate assistance from law enforcement agencies across the country to crack the case. Another case was a lucrative insurance fraud scheme a husband-wife lawyer team managed with the help of bribed witnesses, doctors, and attorneys. Students were encouraged to present their solutions and methods of investigation, as Michael presented the initial issues and details he was given. Michael also presented scenarios where embezzlement happened because of internal interference and intimidation from management. While reviewing multiple ways to track down the culprit, prevention tactics such as contingent procedures and occasional job rotation were also considered.
It should also be noted the forensic accountant is not limited to one specific role. Their responsibilities vary depending on the jobs they assume, some of which include being an expert witness for litigation and divorce cases, an internal/external fraud investigator, and business appraiser. There are many opportunities and career choices that comes with the decision to become a forensic accountant, and one of them happens to be a special agent within the FBI. The road to becoming an FBI special agent is difficult and competitive, but there is no “cookie cutter” ideal for an FBI special agent, as its investigators come from many different backgrounds, each bringing a distinct perspective and set of skills to the organization. However, Michael also noted that candidates interested in joining the FBI as forensic accountants must have a number of years of experience, with knowledge of a second language being a plus.
Michael concluded the presentation with a Q&A session where one of the last questions was “What would you to consider to be the most exciting part of your career?” Without blinking, Michael answered that working with the FBI was the most rewarding and exciting chapter of his ongoing long run as a forensic accountant. While the path was difficult, he considered the exciting cases and enforcement of justice to be the highlights of the job, in addition to the long-term insurance and pension benefits he has received. The path to becoming an FBI special agent involves many obstacles, but with determination, perseverance, and focus, anyone can become one.
By Serena Law, edited by Dara Chen
This past Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 ZFAA hosted another successful event with EY’s Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services (FIDS). Baruch graduate and undergraduate students arrived at 12:30PM, eager to learn about what consists of Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services and why such a profession is in such high demand.
The event started with members from the EY department introducing themselves. The FIDS members discussed their varying day to day work obligations which included:
Insider trading cases (SEC) focusing on litigation on customer harm
Fraud Risk Assessment
Anti Money Laundering Compliance
Anti Bibery & Corruption Assessments.
Upon the completion of their introductory statements, the members of FIDS at EY broke down who they were and what they do. Many if the members present were Baruch College alumni. They explained EY’s Global fids network which had 154 locations in 73 countries (primarily located in North America, South America, Asia & Africa). They have 194 FIDS Partners and 200+ workers which is rapidly expanding.
They continued to elaborate where FIDS stand in the hierarchy of EY’s Services. FIDS is a part of their Assurance Services where they focus on Fraud Investigation, Dispute Services, Insurance and Federal Claims Services, Government Contract Services and Forensic Technology and Discovery Services (FDTS).
After discussing the general overview of their services, the members of FIDS at EY explained the occupational why working at FIDS at EY is such a great opportunity. All the members unanimously agreed on two major reasons why working in FIDS is a great opportunity: (1) it is an occupation where you obtain a great sense of accomplishment in helping prevent fraudulent behavior; (2) working in FIDS provides one with an introduction to a vast array of accounting skills and services.
Upon completion of their presentation, the FIDS members were kind enough to take the rest of their available time to speak and network with students on an individual basis. It was inspiring to see so many students eager to stay around and learn even more about fraud prevention.
ZFAA would like to thank the members of FIDS who came and offered the time out of their busy day to give aspiring students an insight into what they do on a day to day basis. Lastly we would like to thank all the students who showed up to make this another successful ZFAA Event.
By Anthony Policastro, edited by Serena Law
The Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association is proud to conclude the 2017 Spring semester by hosting the 3rd Semi-Annual casual networking event, Alumni Night, last Friday evening, May 5th.
Doors opened at 6:30 p.m. to welcome Baruch students, alumni, and friends of alumni. The event room was filled with festive Mexican music, streams of twinkling lights, and crisp, colorful flowers. The hot, freshly made Mexican food that was present in honor of Cinco de Mayo proved especially popular with attendees, as many had second and third servings of quesadilla, miniature tacos, and chips and guacamole.
As Mardi Gras beads were distributed and gift bags were brought out, ZFAA president Yulia Rozenfeld went on stage and gave the opening speech. She spoke of how Alumni Night started with her predecessor’s–Michelle Qin’s, vision of meaningful and stress-free networking, in parallel to her own desire to continue that tradition and lasting influence. Following Yulia’s speech, the vast array of professionals was called on stage to introduce themselves. They mentioned their names, backgrounds, and careers to allow attending students get an idea of who was relevant to speak about specific professional aspirations.
What followed was a simple yet fun ice breaking game that brought students and professionals together and began conversations. Individuals were given single letters to work with others to piece together a 10-letter word (Spoiler: the word was Graduation!). Conversation prompts were also divided amongst attendees, and they included fun open-ended sentences like “I love…”; “I want to wake up to…”; and “I would want to go to school/work wearing a ___ costume”.
The ice breakers set the stage for the rest of the night, which was centered around casual conversations and networking. It was not long before the room was buzzing with numerous introductions and discussions. The professionals were extremely helpful in providing insight to students. They offered both general and career relevant advice, along with excerpts of their own experiences in school and in the workplace. Even as the event continued past its official end time, there was an energy and liveliness that enveloped the room.
ZFAA is happy to have hosted yet another successful Alumni Night that helped students and introduced professionals to a number of Baruch students who were eager to advance their social networks. We would like to take one last opportunity to thank the professionals who took the time to join our club and fellow students last Friday evening. It means a lot to us that there were individuals who would forgo celebrating Cinco de Mayo and avoiding the pouring weather to come to Baruch and make lasting connections with everyone involved. We look forward to seeing everyone again next semester!
ZFAA would also like to thank and acknowledge the support of the following student organizations in producing this fulfilling event: Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), Graduate Beta Alpha Psi (GBAP), Zicklin Graduate Tax Society (ZGTS), and Zicklin Women in Business (ZWB).
By Serena Law, Anthony Policastro, edited by Serena Law
This past Thursday, April 6th, Ajay Bhatt of Credit Suisse presented an introductory lecture on Securities Pricing to a room packed with students. While we at ZFAA are particularly inclined to inform our fellow students about forensic accounting topics and careers, we also understand that having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of other areas, such as finance, can make one that much stronger of an accountant. For that reason, we invited Ajay, Credit Suisse's Director of Strategy and Governance, come in to teach students about some of the fundamentals of pricing in different financial scenarios.
Ajay started his introduction to Securities Pricing by mentioning that the foundation to most securities pricing lies in the equation for Future Value.
• Future Value = Present Value * (1+r)^t
• r = interest rate
• t = time
He mentioned how this formula could be manipulated to help one understand discounting, which allows one to ascertain what a dollar in the future is worth today. He revealed one can manipulate the equation above to find discount values such as:
• Present Value = Future Value/(1+r)^t
Building on this major concept, Ajay continued to explain the Dollar Discount Factor Formula which is used to determine the future value of a dollar
• $ Discount Factor = $1 / (1+ri/n)^ti
• n = # of periods per year
• i = a period of time
Soon enough, he moved the students from fundamentals to more complex strategies to successfully price the following:
• Vanilla Par Bonds on Issuance as well as in the Secondary Market
• Forward Rate Agreements (an agreement by two parties to enter into an interest rate contract at some point in the future with a set interest rate)
• Foreign Exchange Forwards
• Interest Rate Swaps
• Equity, Interest Rate, and Foreign Exchange Projecting
Ajay's zeal for his work in Securities Pricing for risk management purposes really kept the room alive. His comprehensive explanations and simplified examples allowed students to grasp the concepts and the implications of their importance. ZFAA considers Thursday a success. We look forward to working with him again in the future.
By Anthony Policastro, Edited by Serena Law
In today’s world, where the need for forensic accountants is on the rise, the Zicklin Forensic Accounting Association is proud to hold an event that would inform students about a field in which this profession is increasing in usage and popularity. On March 9th, 2017, ZFAA hosted guest speaker Dennis Neier, a professional with decades of experience in accounting and the United States legal system, to speak about the forensic accountant’s role in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
ADR refers to methods of resolving disputes outside the courtroom and traditional litigation. During the seminar, Mr. Neier reviewed the two major forms of ADR: mediation and arbitration. He discussed the pros and cons of those methods in comparison to courtroom litigation. According to him, forensic accountants are increasingly becoming an integral part of the ADR process and can serve in a variety of roles. In addition to the more common role as consultant or witness expert, an accountant who is qualified can also serve as neutral arbitrator, a member of an arbitration panel, a negotiator or special mediator. The guest, himself, became an arbitrator after testifying as an expert witness in arbitration and being invited to another case to join a panel of arbitrators. He shared examples of arbitrations he took part in and answered questions that arose during the presentation.
Now that the role of forensic accounting is increasing rapidly and more arbitration accountants are specializing in forensics, perhaps it would be wise for students to consider pursuing this career path. Not only would it be highly satisfying to provide aid to other, this career path also has an incentive of high pay, as mentioned by Mr. Neier.
ZFAA is honored to have the opportunity to have Dennis Neier come to Baruch College and enlighten students on the forensic accountant’s increasing role in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
By Justyna Maj, edited by Serena Law