Dr. Richard Riley, the Louis F. Tanner Distinguished Professor of Public Accounting at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, has made accolades. He is a certified public accountant (CPA), a certified fraud examiner (CFE) and is Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF). In 2014, he was named West Virginia Educator of the Year by the West Virginia Society of CPAs.
Now, he has one more to add to the list. He was recently appointed to serve on the West Virginia Board of Accountancy by Governor Jim Justice for a term ending June 30, 2019.
“The State Board of Accountancy promotes quality products and services among CPAs in West Virginia. There are various rules and responsibilities that CPAs take on when they become licensed by the state,” Riley said. “So, our job is to evaluate those rules and responsibilities from time to time to make sure that they are currently applicable. And anytime that there is a potential concern by a client about how they're being handled by their CPA and they form a complaint with the board, we investigate those as well to determine if there’s been any infraction of the responsibilities of the CPAs that would violate the terms and conditions of their licenses.”
The Governor’s Office requested the West Virginia Society of CPAs provide a short list of people to consider for the open seat, and Judy Proctor, CEO of the West Virginia Society of CPAs, contacted Riley.
“With the combinations of his background and skill sets, I thought he was a great candidate. He has experience in industry and academia. He’s been on both sides of the coin, and that makes him a good fit,” Proctor said.
Riley earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from Wheeling Jesuit University, Master of Professional Accountancy from WVU and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. After working in the field and earning his Ph.D., he returned to WVU to teach.
“At the end of the day, I felt like at the time I graduated my greater opportunities were outside of the state particularly to establish myself in my career and to learn. And that's what I did. I went to D.C. for nine years, and I really grew as a professional,” Riley said. “Then, as more of a competent professional, I really appreciate the fact that I was able to get back to the state of West Virginia and hopefully be able to make a positive contribution towards moving the state forward.”
On top of his research efforts and his work to prepare WVU students for their careers in accounting, his recent appointment is another way he hopes to advance his “adopted-home state.”
“I grew up in Ohio but right on the West Virginia border, and I spent a lot of time in my youth on the West Virginia side of the river in Wheeling at Oglebay Park. West Virginia has always had a huge place in my heart and getting back to WVU was really nice that I could be here in sort of my home state,” he said. “I love West Virginia, and I always want to see West Virginia doing better.”
Riley is also the director of research for the Institute of Fraud Prevention (IFP). In 2003-04, when WVU dove into the forensic accounting and fraud examination arena, the accounting expert was at the forefront of the initiative.
“For long-term viability you not only need people teaching it but you need people to be doing the underlying research to understand for example, what are the causes of fraud? Who commits fraud? How do they do it?” he said. “Both WVU and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners recognized early on that the educational environment needed to be supported by solid research, so we started working toward those goals.”
Prior to WVU taking over the Institute and Riley’s direction, there were only three research projects supported by IFP. Now, there are currently more than 100 proposals. More than 65 of those proposals are supported by the Institute for Fraud Prevention and approximately 50 have been completed.
Riley is also the face of B&E’s Forensic and Fraud Examination certification and graduate programs. How did he get into the forensic and investigative side of accounting? Riley attributes that to Dr. Paul Speaker, a B&E associate professor of finance, and Steven McGowan, a former Member at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Charleston, West Virginia, and current general counsel for the Boy Scouts of America in Texas.
“They had a case that involved Enron and needed somebody to crawl around books and records, and Paul Speaker thought of me,” he said. “I found that crawling around through books and records, trying to solve a puzzle was something I was really good at it and really enjoyed. So, I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years or so working in and around fraud and forensic accounting issues, teaching it and researching it. I feel like I have found my calling.”
Riley’s life is not all accounting and fraud examination though. He is also a proud husband and father, as well as a trail runner and a cyclist.
“Last summer I biked with my son and some other friends from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh on the C&O Canal and this summer we’re going to do the Erie Canal,” he said. “Both of those are about 350 miles of biking over multiple days,” he said.