Chris Freiermuth, CFSA
AVP, Quality Assurance Manager, U.S. Bank
Member, Northern Ohio - Cincinnati
1. What prompted you to become a Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)?
The CFSA expanded my knowledge of the financial services industry while educating me on standard audit techniques. I wanted to use this certification as a means to focus my career on assurance-related activities. The CFSA study materials give you access to information about auditing across the banking, insurance, and securities disciplines, so it was helpful to gain a broad basic knowledge of audit techniques and guidance in those areas.
2. In addition to the CFSA, do you hold other IIA certification(s) and why did you choose to pursue the CFSA and possibly others? Do you plan to pursue other IIA certifications and if so, which ones and why?
I do not currently hold any other IIA certification, but do hold the CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) designation. However, I am studying for the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification and would like to pursue the Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership (QIAL) in the future. I think the CIA certification will allow me to sharpen my skills as an audit professional, while the QIAL will give me the ability to demonstrate the leadership skills necessary to take the next step in my career.
3. How does having the CFSA certification set you apart from your non-certified financial services peers?
Having the CFSA really sets a foundation which you can build upon. By having a general knowledge of audit practices across different areas, you don’t silo yourself into one specific area. The CFSA allows you to understand audit practices from commercial banking to investment banking in a short time frame, which is helpful if you have never worked in those areas before. In today’s environment, having an understanding of how things work in different areas and applying those techniques in your own area to make improvements is valuable. Non-certified individuals may not get that experience.
4. How has your CFSA and other designations helped your career?
Much like a college degree, I think it shows employers or other individuals in your own company you are willing to take additional steps to further your own education and knowledge. I don’t think I would be in the position I am in now without the two certifications I have obtained. The certifications are an investment in yourself. Sometimes the dividends are paid quickly and sometimes it takes time, but in the end, it’s worth the investment.
5. Has earning the CFSA enhanced your skill level?
Definitely. Understanding The IIA’s practice advisories and guidance will help anyone increase their skill levels. Studying for the CFSA gives you the opportunity to review valuable information from The IIA.
6. What advice do you have for others who are considering obtaining a CFSA or other IIA certification?
Do it. The best thing you can do is invest in yourself. Obtaining the knowledge through The IIA’s certification process is invaluable and the ongoing requirements for continuing education ensure that the individual stays up-to-date on what is happening in the industry.
7. How does career planning and development play a part in your growth?
Have a goal and then plan to achieve that goal. The plan to achieve the goal sometimes requires an update or change in your skills, and sometimes the best way to demonstrate those newly acquired skills is by obtaining a certification.
8. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
I didn’t receive it personally but Warren Buffett said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." This goes along with what my parents always told me growing up, “Do the right thing and work hard.”
Chris Freiermuth is a quality assurance manager at U.S. Bank where he started his career as a teller in 2001. He has held several positions within U.S. Bank ranging across various business lines, and is now focused on quality assurance testing related to the Bank Secrecy Act, Anti-Money Laundering, and Office of Foreign Assets Control. Freiermuth has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and provides audit consulting services for local non-profits in his community.