Tiffany Couch is CEO/Founder at Acuity Forensics, a nationally recognized forensic accounting firm based in the Pacific Northwest. She has more than 24 years of experience in the field of accounting with the last 17 years focused on forensic accounting related engagements. Her expertise is in matters involving fraud investigation, forensic accounting, contract and regulatory compliance, internal control risk assessment, and complex litigation. Professional background and experience include audit, tax, and business consulting services for nonprofit, government, and privately held business entities in a range of industries.
She has provided expertise as a source to the New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. She is also a regular contributor to multiple industry publications and has been interviewed by regional, national and international broadcast news stations.
Ms. Couch is the winner of the 2014 James R. Baker Speaker of the Year, presented by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) to honor an individual who has demonstrated the true spirit of leadership in communication, presentation, and quality instruction. She also serves as a faculty member for the ACFE. With almost 75,000 members worldwide, the ACFE is the world’s largest anti fraud organization and the premier provider of anti-fraud training and education.
Tiffany Couch is the author of The Thief in Your Company, available at Amazon.com and other online retailers.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
I am a Certified Public Accountant by trade, but no longer do "traditional" accounting work. For the last 17 years I have focused my career on forensic accounting engagements (fraud investigation, contractual disputes, criminal defense, etc.). I started Acuity 14 years ago.
Currently, I like to say that I’m a “recovering workaholic.”
Q: What motivated you to get started with Acuity Forensics?
I worked for a great firm, but had a terrible boss. In fact, I blew the whistle on him when I realized he wasn’t being truthful in his client billings. They offered me a job as an auditor, but I knew that being a forensic accountant was my calling. I realized that fraud was a problem all companies had and that there was nowhere for small business or individuals to go without having to pay for “big firm” rates. I started my own firm (Acuity Forenscis) knowing that I could fill that market niche.
Q: How have you attracted clients and grown your firm?
This is a relationship business. I have built relationships over the years and maintained them. The primary way I used to market was public speaking engagements (I can get up and talk to a group of people but cold calling was terrifying! Go figure…). I was always willing to speak to any business group, lawyer group, Rotary club, etc. in order to teach them about fraud risk. I have ended up being able to make a nice additional income from my speaking engagements and that brings in clients to this day.
Once I retain a client, our motto is to do great work. Taking pride in one’s work leads to great joy and also, word gets around!! We have very little need for traditional marketing these days.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
I intend to write more books. However, not on the topic of forensic accounting, but more along the lines of money and how our pasts and our emotions play into our relationship with money. So many of the heartbreaking stories I’ve seen start with this concept. It’s not something very many people talk about, and I want to bring it into the light!
I have recently been teaching professionals on the concept of intuition, discernment, ego, etc. and am loving that. I intend to explore these concepts more – especially in light of the analytical/business mindset that so many of us work in.
I intend to speak and write and travel the country with my husband.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
I grew up with a difficult mother. She hated herself. And in turn, she hated me. Growing up, one internalizes that as there being something “wrong with them.” I used it as my drive to be successful (“maybe if I’m successful, my mother will finally love me/like me.”). I’ve done an extraordinary amount of work to unburden myself with that concept.
I would say that I have also overcome the “feminist” mindset. I loved the success and money and power and accolades I received in my business and in my profession (see Point #1 above!). However, all of that fame, fortune, and success came at a hefty price. I lost so much time with my precious boys and I nearly lost my marriage. Finding a way to let go of my need for worldly success and finding incredible success in my marriage and our family looked impossible a few years ago and is now my greatest joy.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Seriously think (and feel!) through what you want your life to look like and don’t underestimate your ego’s need to be “fulfilled” and “rich.” I found that while what I said I wanted was more time with my family and my kids, I fed my ego’s need for “success” instead.
I cannot get back the firsts that I missed, the ball games I missed, the time with my husband, etc. They will never have memories of their mother being there. Those years with them are gone and they are grown now. You have your whole life to make money and be “successful.” If family is part of your plan, make them the priority. You will never regret it….I promise! And once they are grown, you’ll have plenty of time to “make it big” – I promise you that, too!! xoxo