How Long Does Financial Examiner School Take?

Financial examiners are integral to the health of the country’s financial and banking systems. They look at the loan practices of banks and financial institutions to ensure that they are following the standards set forth by the government. They also see to it that the bank’s cash reserves are enough to handle unforeseen losses. The work involves scrutinizing balance sheets, reviewing bank management practices and preparing reports that detail the results of their evaluation.

If a career as a financial examiner sounds appealing to you then you’ll have to be ready to spend at least four years in college to obtain your bachelor’s degree. The Society of Financial Examiners (SOFE), the organization that certifies financial examiners and sets standards of professional conduct among its members, requires a bachelors’ degree in accounting as the educational preparation for those who wish to gain the Accredited Financial Examiner designation. However, it is still possible for those with a different degree in another field to sit for the exams. They will just have to complete six semester hours of accounting fundamentals, six semester hours of intermediate accounting, three semester hours of general auditing and six semester hours of business law courses.

The length of time it takes to finish a bachelor’s degree in accounting is four years if you study fulltime. If you want to hit two birds with one stone, you can opt to enroll in a combined accountancy program that awards both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree after five years. One way to shorten the length of time to obtain your undergraduate degree is to take your accounting degree from online schools which have an average completion time of 36 to 48 months. You can also finish the program earlier if you take more courses in the summer.

Obtaining the Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) designation will attest to your professionalism and will help you in your quest to look for a better job or get promoted. In addition to meeting the educational requirements, you also need to pass four AFE exams. The first is on Life and Health Insurance Fundamentals, the second is on Property and Liability Insurance Fundamentals, the third is on Life and Health Insurance Accounting and the final exam covers Property and Liability Insurance Accounting. These tests need not be taken all at once but the SOFE website explains, “A candidate who passes any test of the AFE will earn conditional credit for that test. This conditional credit expires 36 months after the testing date. If a candidate does not successfully pass the remaining tests within the 36 months, the test associated with the conditional credit must be retaken.”

The other requirements include work experience in the field and general membership in the Society of Financial Examiners. Approval of the designation after the application has been submitted takes six to eight weeks. However, applicants should submit their applications showing that they have completed all the designation requirements “within thirty-eight months following the month in which the applicant passed his/her first exam for that designation track.”

After getting the AFE designation, you can also obtain the Certified Financial Examiner (CFE) designation. Both designations can be granted on the same day if the application is done concurrently but the AFE designation is typically given first. The requirements for a CFE designation include three semester hours of a management course, passing three tests, obtaining work experience and membership in the SOFE.

Career Spotlight: Financial Examiner

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