SOFE offers three professional designations, which may be earned by completing extensive requirements including the successful completion of a series of examinations administered by the Society. The designations are Accredited Financial Examiner, Certified Financial Examiner, and Automated Examination Specialist.
Effective Date and Sunset Date:
- Effective Date: These new AFE/CFE designation application requirements are effective July 2, 2020.
- Sunset Date of Prior Requirements: Applicants for AFE/CFE designations under the prior guidelines must submit their AFE or CFE application no later than December 31, 2020.
- Note: During the transition period of July 2020 to December 2020, the applicant must select only one set of guidelines (i.e., the applicant cannot “mix-and-match” the separate provisions of the prior and new guidelines.)
SOFE's Continuing Education Program has been established to enhance your professional standing and assist you to remain qualified as an AFE, CFE or AES. Efforts by you to comply with the requirements of the program will be fully supported by SOFE officers and state chairs through their assistance and positive reinforcement of the program on both a state and national level.
CRE Reporting is Now Online: See CRE Reporting guide (PDF)
By continuing their professional education, members of the Society of Financial Examiners (SOFE) can better fulfill their obligation to competently serve the public interest. Accordingly, SOFE maintains the following continuing education program in order to assist its members in remaining current with the technical advancements and fundamental changes occurring in the operations and management of the companies they regulate.
CRE Credit Requirements
After a member earns either the Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) or the Automated Examination Specialist (AES) designation awarded by SOFE, they must begin to earn Continuing Regulatory Education (CRE) credits effective the first day of the month following the month in which they receive the designation. If the member goes on to earn the Certified Financial Examiner (CFE) designation, the reporting requirements do not change.
Credits must be earned in SOFE-defined three-year periods. The three-year periods are the same for all designees; therefore, when an individual earns a designation, required credits must be prorated for the first three-year period as explained in the CRE reporting section below.
|Three-year reporting periods||Three-year reporting deadlines|
|January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016||January 31, 2017|
|January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019||January 31, 2020|
|January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022||January 31, 2023|
Two (2) credits annually of the currently required CRE credits for the AFE, CFE and AES designations must be in ethics.
Beginning in 2017, and annually thereafter, those holding AFE, CFE and AES designations shall attend the NAIC Financial Condition Examiners Handbook training or the NAIC Financial Analysis Handbook training webinars, or live presentations, depending on the designation holder's primary job function. This training will count as part of the required CRE credits earned annually by SOFE designation holders. The CRE value for the Handbook training will vary each year based on what is published by the NAIC.
AFE/CFE Requirements—Members holding the AFE or CFE designation must earn a minimum of 20 CRE credits each year with a total of 120 CRE credits over each defined three-year period.
AES Requirements—Members holding the AES designation must earn a minimum of 20 CRE credits each year with a total of 120 CRE credits over each defined three-year period.
For each year the AES is required to earn a minimum of twenty (20) CRE credits, twelve (12) must be IT related*, six (6) must be financial examination related (including the NAIC Financial Condition Examiners Handbook training), and two (2) must be in ethics.
For each defined three-year reporting period the AES is required to earn 120 CRE credits, ninety (90) must be IT related*, twenty-four (24) must be financial examination related (including the NAIC Financial Condition Examiners Handbook training annually), and six (6) must be in ethics.
*An IT related course is defined as a course which contributes to the advancement of the AES's knowledge in the performance of IT examination tasks.
Prorating Required Hours (New Designees) — Individuals initially receiving their AFE, CFE or AES designation need only attain CRE credit from the first day of the month following the date they received their designation until the end of the current reporting period. For example, an examiner becoming an AFE in April 2018 would be required to have a minimum of 66.5 CRE credits by December 31, 2019 (20/36 months = 55 % x 120 hours = 66.5 hours) in order to meet the CRE requirement. Proration of the 20 CRE minimum annual requirement also occurs in the year the designation is earned. If there are any questions regarding prorating hours, please contact SOFE for further guidance. See the sample proration guide.
Please note that, in exception to the general policy, the Ethics and Handbook requirement is not prorated. Members attaining their designation after July 1 will be required to attain 1 CRE credit in ethics and to attend the NAIC Financial Condition Examiners Handbook training or the NAIC Financial Analysis Handbook Training webinars or live presentations, depending on the designation holder’s primary job function.
Due to the exception noted for the Ethics and Handbook requirement, Members that have satisfied the Ethics and Handbook requirement at any point in the calendar year in which they obtain their designation may submit their documentation for credit even if it precedes the date on which they received their designation.
Carry Forward of Excess CRE Credits — The program provides that up to 40 hours of excess credits earned during a reporting period may be carried forward to the following three-year reporting period for all designees. The hours carried forward may not be used to meet annual required minimums. Although the hours from additional ethics and Handbook training can carry over from year to year, the requirement for 2 hours of CRE in ethics and ther requirement for NAIC Financial Condition Examiners Handbook or NAIC Financial Analysis Handbook training must be met on an annual basis.
Active Duty Members — CRE requirements for members with designations who have been called to active duty are waived. A request for this waiver with supporting documentation must be filed with SOFE.
Recommended Programs and Credits
It is the responsibility of the member to ensure appropriate CRE courses are taken and complete records are maintained. Programs and courses for continuing education shall be directly related to the management, operation, or regulation of insurance companies or related to the financial reporting of the operations thereof and have a direct correlation to the discipline in which an examiner has earned a professional designation. While not intended to be overly restrictive, programs and courses that are merely designed to improve general core competencies (such as learning enhanced features of Microsoft Word or Excel) would not be acceptable. Nevertheless, programs and courses that do have a direct correlation to a member's job responsibilities may be considered. Topics that may be acceptable could include management skills, delegation, organization and development of personnel. Nevertheless, it is th responsibility of the member to provide support that the programs or courses for which CRE credits are being requeste meet these criteria.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy NASBA (www.nasba.org) maintains a National Registry of approved CPE sponsors, many of which provide acceptable CRE courses. In addition, a list of previously approved CRE Providers is available on the SOFE website.
Credit Calculation — One hour of attendance and participation will equal one hour of CRE credit. Hours will not be given for introductory remarks, breaks, business meetings (e.g., elections, approval of minutes, financial statements, etc.), meals, or speakers of a general, non-financial or non-insurance nature. Seminars, classes and sessions must meet at least 50 minutes in order to receive one hour of credit. Half hours will be granted if the session exceeds 25 minutes after the hour.
Continuing Education Activities Typically Accepted By SOFE
- Attendance at a meeting of a state chapter of the Society or by a regulatory agency with an organized educational program, designed to provide knowledge beneficial to the examiner in conducting his/her job duties. State chairs or agencies are expected to maintain records of attendance including the exact number of instructional hours.
- Attendance at a seminar organized by a state chapter of the Society or by a regulatory agency, where videotapes from educational seminars sponsored by the Society are viewed and, followed by at least a thirty (30) minute discussion period for each subject.
- Serving as a speaker or course instructor at an approved educational program. Speaker and course instructor credit hours will be determined by doubling participation credit hours. Credit is only allowed for the topic once per year.
- Attendance at educational sessions offered during the annual Career Development Seminar (CDS) of the Society. Credit will be given for the time in actual attendance of a CDS session; partial credit will be allowed only if a participant has remained in attendance of any given session for at least 25 minutes. Certificates with CRE hours awarded are issued following CDS.
- Authorship of a technical article which is published in the Society's EXAMINER magazine (6 CREs per article; 10 CREs for the article receiving "Editor's Choice Award").
- Attendance at seminars sponsored by the Society.
- 45 CREs are given for the successful completion of a CFE exam.
- Two CRE credits may be earned for the successful completion of any one quarterly EXAMINER CRE Reading Program Test on the SOFE website. NOTE: SOFE's CRE Reading Quiz credits are recognized by SOFE, but not by NASBA.
- Sources for ethics education requirement: In addition to ethics credits offered to those attending the SOFE CDS, one credit can be earned by viewing and passing the test on the SOFE Code of Ethical Conduct recorded presentation that appears in the Member only area of the website. Other sources include Western CPE self-study ethics courses which are state specific courses for several states requiring that, as well as a course for those in other states. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has online self study courses such as this one, among several others listed under 'Ethics ' at their self study page. The AICPA also offers an online course in ethics. To do a quick check if a sponsor is NASBA approved, look up the course sponsor's name and their approved course delivery format at this link. A partial list of ethics courses offered by NASBA sponsors can also be found at this link (use "ethics" in the "Search" field). See section under "Course Approval " below for further information on CRE credit sources.
- Other Programs and Credits- The following provides information and guidance on CRE allowances for other programs:
- 45 CRE's are given for the successful completion of self-study courses given by nationally recognized organizations and that must be completed for professional certification. Successful completion should be documented by evidence that the candidate has passed the accompanying examination of the self-study course and has received a certificate of completion for that course. Examples of self-study courses that would qualify for 45 CRE credits are LOMA courses (i.e., LOMA 280-Principles of Insurance), CPCU courses (i.e., CPCU 551-Commercial Property Risk Management and Insurance), ARM courses (i.e., ARM 54-Risk Management Principles & Practices), and courses for other similar professional certification programs. The organization must be approved by SOFE or recognized by NASBA.
- 15 CRE's for each semester college credit and 10 CRE's for each quarter college credit will be awarded upon successful completion.
- Up to 30 CRE's for instructing each semester college credit and up to 20 CRE's for instructing each quarter college credit will be awarded on an annual basis. CRE credit cannot be taken more than once for the same material. As CRE is meant for the continuing education of the member, SOFE will only allow 40 CRE's for instructing college courses over a three-year period.
No CRE will be allowed for NAIC committee work. However, to see NAIC's NASBA approved online courses offering credit, go to this link.
It is the responsibility of the member to determine if an individual course or seminar meets the requirements for CRE recognition by SOFE. If a course is not directly related to the management, operation, or regulation of insurance companies or related to the financial reporting of the operations therof or does not have a direct correlation to the discipline in which an examiner has earned a professional designation, the member risks not receiving approval or full credit. The member is responsible to maintain evidence that an individual course or seminar meets SOFE requirements. Such information should be presented to SOFE upon audit or as requested.
Training providers may be added to SOFE's list of CRE providers if the organization is one that is recognized as an organization that sponsors training to meet the course requirements for SOFE CRE and will be providing training to SOFE membership on a regular, ongoing basis. Members may request approval of a provider not listed by NASBA by completing and submitting a CRE Provider Approval form. These forms are reviewed and approved by the Education Committee. A list of such previously approved organizations is linked on the SOFE member web page.
If you have any questions or need additional information, contact SOFE headquarters at the "Contact Us" link below for assistance. Issues that cannot be readily answered are referred to the Vice President of Education for review and response.
NASBA Requirements for SOFE Sponsored Training
SOFE is an approved National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Sponsor (www.nasba.org) and undergoes an annual process for qualifying the annual Career Development Seminar (CDS), along with other SOFE educational programs, as NASBA Continuing Professional Education (CPE) learning activities. The Education Committee performs an annual review of NASBA CPE Categories to be apprised of changes that should be made to upcoming CPE opportunities.
State Chapters seeking to issue CPE credits for their sponsored program event/learning activities in accounting and auditing and in the field of study of taxes that qualify under the NASBA should contact SOFE Headquarters to obtain a review of the program to ensure it will meet NASBA standards. At the conclusion of their training, the State Chapter should submit details on their training to SOFE Headquarters so it will be included with the annual submission to NASBA.
Presentations meeting Standard No. 5 require the participation of at least one licensed CPA (in good standing and holding an active license or the equivalent of an “active” CPA license in a U.S. jurisdiction) in the development of every program. (https://www.nasbaregistry.org/__media/Documents/Others/Statement_on_Standards_for_CPE_Programs-2016.pdf)
Please review the Tips on Conducting a Regional or State Seminar located in the Members-Only Area of the SOFE website at https://sofe.org/members-only/login.html that can be viewed via the link on the Leadership Manual Section 2. We encourage SOFE State Chapters to consider the NASBA standards for the benefit of members seeking CPEs in addition to CREs.
Sample Course Evaluation for State Chapter Seminars (Coming Soon)
CRE Reporting, Recordkeeping and Audits
CRE Reporting Due Date — CRE credit hours must be reported online annually no later than January 31 (11:59 PM EST) of the following year as evidenced by the dispatch date of the submission. However, it is recommended CRE be reported as it is earned throughout the year in which the credits are earned. CRE credits are to be reported online CRE reporting is accomplished in the Current Year CRE Detail area of each Member's Profile in the Member- Only area of the SOFE website. See instructions here.
Requests for Extension — Use of extensions should be minimal. Members are expected to obtain and report their CRE credits timely. Members who have failed to obtain the required minimum annual or three-year CRE credits must submit to the SOFE Education Committee for review and approval a written explanation of why their report was not timely or why their minimum requirement was not met and their proposed plan to meet the requirement(s). This request must be received by SOFE before January 31 along with a $50 extension fee. If the extension is granted, the CRE report must be received by SOFE by March 31 as evidenced by the dispatch date of the submission. All extended filings will be audited.
Late Reports — If a member files a late (after January 31, 11:59 PM EST) CRE report to SOFE, the member will be charged a $75 administrative charge for the processing of the late filing. All late reports will be audited. Any member who does not submit their CRE report by March 31 will lose their designation unless waived for good cause by the Executive Committee. The member may be eligible for reinstatement by following SOFE's reinstatement process, which also entails payment of a $100 reinstatement fee. See "Reinstatement," below.
Record Keeping and CRE Audits — CRE reporting is accomplished in the Current Year CRE Detail area accessed via the member's Profile link in the Member Only area of this website. It is recommended that CRE credit be reported as it is earned throughout the year. NASBA should be selected as the provider for any course provided by NASBA organizations with the appropriate NASBA number entered in the applicable area for reference purposes. This site also includes the names of previously recognized CRE providers not currently listed by NASBA. Members are allowed to obtain CRE credit from other sources, but it is up to the member to ensure the course meets SOFE guidelines and requirements and to submit an application for the source to become an approved provider. Instructions for input are maintained on the website as well.
CRE reports are audited annually per SOFE's CRE Audit Procedures. In preparing for the annual CRE audit, it is suggested that members prepare a professional file containing all documents, course material and certificates of completion for ready reference. These will be required to be submitted to SOFE in a timely manner if a member is selected for CRE audit. CRE records should be maintained for a period of four years at a minimum. The designation of a member who fails to pass the CRE audit is subject to suspension.
Requirements for Designees Who Have Left Regulation or Retired
An application for change in membership must be submitted and approved for any change in membership status. All designees, including those who have left regulation, will be required to earn 120 CRE hours every triennial period. Retired status designees who are not gainfully employed directly or indirectly in regulation may continue to use their designation without meeting any CRE requirements. Forms with instructions for inactive or retiring members are at the "Forms" link at the top of this website (under "Resources").
An application for change in membership must be submitted and approved for any change in membership status. Members who fail to maintain the required number of CRE credits will be ineligible to hold or display their designation. Such individuals will remain members at the prescribed fee for general membership. Members may apply for reinstatement of their designation within five years of losing said designation by showing that they have earned the necessary continuing education credits and by paying the difference, if any, between the applicable dues payable and the general membership dues paid. In addition, a $100 processing fee will be assessed upon reinstatement. Any reinstated member will be required to meet all current continuing educational requirements of members in good standing. Members who return to regulation may continue to use their AFE, CFE or AES designation provided they meet the current CRE requirements and pay the appropriate fees. See form for instructions and fees.