Next steps for experienced writers – thoughts and perspective from an experienced CFE instructor and coach

This post is sponsored by The Zane Group

CFE RESULTS DAY – A day you have looked forward to since those warmer September days. You worked hard to get to this stage. You are looking forward to the celebration with your family, friends and peers. Then again, you may be one of those candidates who cannot wait to get it all over it, hoping to just have passed. Any CPA,CA or CPA,CMA or CPA, CGA or newly minted Canadian CPA will tell you: getting over the hurdle of passing the national examination is a major stepping stone in one’s professional career.

For some, as you anticipate the possibilities and scenarios, you get the ‘notice’:

CFE from September 2016 was not successful 🙁

This is not something anyone wants to see. You may have had a mix of these emotions in the last several hours: anger, disappointment, loss of confidence and self-worth are among many thoughts that one may go through when there is an unsuccessful CFE result. It’s a terrible event to go through – some unsuccessful candidates have told me over the years this is the lowest point in their lives and it isn’t fair. Unfortunately, not everyone can pass the final national exam.

Fortunately, it is NOT the end of the world. Your personal and professional life will move on, and you can bounce back and re-focus. There is an ample time from now until the next CFE in Fall 2017 to achieve a successful result.

Below is a list of 2 things that an unsuccessful CFE candidate needs to consider following the receipt of their 2016 CFE result:

(1) Reflect on the CFE process and the importance of the Canadian CPA designation

There may be a number of reasons why the September 2016 CFE did not work out. It is possible that you were not focused enough, had the wrong study buddy or group, had a bad day at the exam or simply had too much pressure, whether from yourself or others. Whatever the reason(s) may be, it is important to have an honest assessment of what went right and what went wrong. This is the first important step in order to achieve success on the CFE in 2017. Moreover, it is also important to also remind yourself why you did the CFE in the first place: to obtain the Canadian CPA designation – a very valuable, prestigious and respected designation in all aspects of the accounting and finance sphere.

 (2) Consider obtaining personalized one-on-one CFE coaching from an experienced and knowledgeable CFE instructor

Here is a very tricky part of my post: as a CFE instructor and coach, I am an advocate that most candidates should get specialized coaching during the CFE process. By default you have already done this to some degree: speaking to CPAs and/or successful CPA candidates who have gone through the process, university professors giving you advice, firm assisted prep programs, etc. The reality is that most candidates can benefit from experienced coaching for this exam as long as one very important condition is met: your CFE coach must be experienced and knowledgeable with the ‘challenging game’ known as the CFE so they may serve as a value added resource to your CFE process and help lead you to a successful result.

A successful CFE writer or experienced CPA does not necessarily equate to a valuable CFE mentor. Most of the time, once the exam process is over, a CPA/successful CFE candidate will never look at the process again. This point cannot be emphasized enough considering how new the CFE process is, with the first exam sitting in September 2015, and how much it has changed from the prior CA, CMA and CGA exam processes.


Over the years, I’ve had candidates tell me about the added benefits of my coaching and mentoring – a list that stays the same year after year after year, whether it was for the CA process or the new CPA process:

  • Keep candidates focused, motivated and on the right track;
  • Eliminating bad habits (constructive feedback);
  • Strengthening good habits through extensive marking of cases and coaching sessions (positive reinforcement and critical value-added feedback) ; and
  • Able to communicate with me whenever something was not going well with the process and they needed assistance and benefit from expert advice (here I emphasize my availability to meet my candidates needs and address their most pressing concerns)

There are many steps to obtaining a successful CFE result. Individualized coaching and mentoring can be one of them, but so is the right study buddy/group, prep course, attitude, focus as well as what is going on with your life apart from the exam. Questions in this regard? You can email me and see a glimpse of the special consulting session offer below.

Special Consulting Session Offer:

For a limited time, I will be having special one-on-one fee based consulting sessions with students who did not pass the 2016 CFE. The session is designed to help you figure out what went wrong during the 2016 CFE process and what can be done to help you achieve success for the CFE in Fall 2017. You will need to email me your 2016 CFE result pages from days 1, 2 and 3 of the exam.

Candidates who go forward with this session will be eligible for special pricing on the following services:

  • study schedule
  • PAR review analysis (as applicable)
  • customized case marking and coaching packages
  • coaching/mentoring sessions: reading/planning, outlining, ranking issues, writing skills for sufficient depth, time management, stress management, technical competency map review and overall case based strategies

Should you be interested, please email and mention this CFEBlog post


The first FIVE candidates who email me at and mention this CFEBlog post will have a consulting session personally with me for FREE. The session will be limited to 40 minutes in length. In your email to me you must provide a brief background of your 2016 CFE journey and when available your 2016 CFE result from days 1, 2 and 3. These FIVE candidates will be eligible for the same special pricing on services which will be offered for 2017 CFE prep. Offer valid on a first come basis when the emails are received. Scheduling of the session will be arranged at a time to be agreed upon. Special bonus offer will expire December 31, 2016.

To sum up, it may be a very difficult day but it is not the end of the world. Just like prior professional accounting exams before it, the CFE is an exam which can be passed.

I am here to help you in the best coaching methods for the CFE process – do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have coached and mentored hundreds of students over the years and I continue to do so because I love teaching and coaching candidates from across Canada. Candidates have given me the privilege to champion them throughout these exam processes and for that I am happy to share this knowledge with the future generation of Canadian CPAs.

For those who have passed the CFE in 2016 and are reading this post, I would like to congratulate you. Remember that some candidates may not have been so fortunate, so do not forget to send words of encouragement their way.

To end my post, I would like to share a quote which may be appropriate for any candidate doubting their abilities or purpose with the CPA process after an unsuccessful result on the CFE:

 ‘Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction’ – JFK



Charles Zane is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) residing in Montreal, Quebec. Specializing in CA (UFE 2010-2015) and CPA (CFE 2014-present)  teaching, coaching, and marking since 2010, Charles has worked with a variety of organizations to help students achieve success at various levels of the Canadian CA and CPA processes. Charles’ experiences include teaching with the leading external prep provider as a course lecturer with Densmore Consulting Inc. as well as involvement with two very successful university programs: McGill University as a course instructor and Concordia University as a specialized coach. Last and certainly not least, Charles has extensively worked one-on-one with candidates from across Canada to help achieve success on the national exams.  Deeply committed to the success of candidates, Charles has successfully prepared hundreds of students over the years to pass the final national exam from the CA and CPA processes, through one-on-one coaching sessions across Canada, teaching at the McGill University in Montreal  or teaching several hundred candidates as a Densmore instructor in Ontario.

To better serve the needs of CPA candidates, a new corporate structure was formed in 2014. After the initial success experienced, The Zane Group was launched in 2015. As managing director and lead consultant and instructor of The Zane Group, Charles works on developing skills for candidates in reading/planning, outlining, ranking issues, writing skills for sufficient depth, time management, stress management, technical competency map review and overall case-based strategies. Evaluation of candidates’ strengths & weaknesses, study schedules and PAR reviews are other areas in which Charles has assisted candidates.

Charles has also completed his US CPA designation (registered with the State of Illinois) and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario. He is a member of CPA Quebec (formerly Quebec Order of Chartered Accountants) and CPA Ontario (formerly ICAO – Institute Chartered Accountants of Ontario). Apart from the CPA world of teaching and mentoring, Charles works as a commercial banker with a focus on financial analysis and credit risk management at one of the Big Six Banks in Canada.

For CPA and CFE coaching information, please contact Charles at and mention CFE Blog!

Material contained in this blog post are of the opinion of Charles Zane, MBA, CPA, CA and The Zane Group



Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company, which is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with CFE Blog, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of regular posts produced by CFE Blog are never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way.

One comment

  1. Whatever you do with one-on-one coaching, make sure that person has signed the confidentiality agreement with CPA so you can share your Capstone 2 materials and case-writing results with them. In my experience, it’s useless to have a coach that cannot have access to how you are doing in Capstone 2 and build on that work.

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I love open conversations. Casual is fine, professional is fine, but this is a community so anything abusive, demeaning or annoying will be removed at my discretion. Below is a guide to help keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. 1. Use a name or alias. I understand wanting to keep your name personal, so make something clever up and stick to it. We can't tell each other apart if everybody is "Anon".
  2. 2. Remember the point. This is a community to discuss, debate and assist each other to pass the CFE or discuss other CPA things. Let's act like we're all the intelligent professionals that we are supposed to be.
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  4. 4. Don't be obnoxious. You should be proud if you are the next honour roll writer or work for a prestigious firm but don't be obnoxious by using it to feel better than others.


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