What level should students be at for the Intermediate
ABL Auditing class?
We prefer students to be have at least 6
months of real audit experience or account officer experience. Skill
levels for each course are also stated in our marketing materials. We
don't offer a beginner's course that is taught publicly, but we do offer an
introductory examination school that can be taught at your location for newer
hires with less experience.
What is your schedule for next Spring / Fall / Winter?
We are no longer hosting courses in major cities. Most of our
courses are now on-line with
The live courses are still available at your location for in-house training.
Do I need a computer for the classes?
For ABLTrain.com you do.
For the live classes, it depends on the course, but Intermediate / Advanced ABL
Auditing requires a computer for day one for the DATA analysis portion.
After that, only a calculator. The
Intermediate Course uses instructor led discussions and case studies.
The DATA Course
(now day one of Intermediate ABL) and the
courses require a PC and Excel.
Can the courses be taught at our location?
Absolutely, we routinely teach at major lending institutions.
How small are the classes?
We never want to teach classes as large as some of the other national
providers. We stress quality and not quantity. To promote
individual attention and class participation, the classes are limited to 15
students, less than half of what other courses allow. One seminar promoter
is using the words "small classes," in their literature, they mean 35-40 people
(please ask them).
Do the courses qualify for CPE?
YES, Clear Choice Seminars, Inc. is NASBA approved and is listed on the national
Registry of CPE Sponsors. Please see the
We checked around and talked to some people that took other courses
and your course. We were impressed with what we were hearing about your
courses. What would you say the key differences are?
That is a lot to answer. First, we are original and creative.
We don't copy other people (although it seems that they copy us and our
materials in some cases). We [instructors] all have passion for ABL, but
some instructors are more passionate than others. I would say that Joe is
highly passionate about ABL. The biggest difference might be the original
materials. Clear Choice Seminars spent almost one year writing
Intermediate ABL Audit. That is no quick compile of data and slides, it
was research and due care. Our competition spends about 1/10th the time
that we do on preparation of materials. Some of our slides take more than
10 hours to prepare (yes, just one slide) and some of our cases about the same.
We have outstanding materials. The ABL-Help industry reference is another
piece that we alone offer. It includes some of our reference materials,
but mostly things that you can learn on your own and there are hundreds of hours
invested into the materials and the technology. Another area is rewrites
of older materials. We change things as needed and update the materials
all of the time. This keeps it current and fresh. We also update our
presentation software, slides, delivery methods and overall look as the
What makes Intermediate ABL different than a beginners course?
There are dozens of key differences, but here are a few: Our
course is intermediate to advanced. Beginners are learning the business
and learning the language of the business. Can those basic skills and
tests find fraud and problems? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, but I
wouldn't trust a new deal for $25,000M to a new hire, unless I could afford the
hit. Intermediate ABL helps students to gain the skills to assess when
more testing is needed and how to document findings to prove or disprove a
hypothesis on the existence of a collateral or credit threat. The so
called "industry standard" ABL procedures for turnover, dilution,
reconciliations, etc. are designed to catalogue business trends, but an
assessment is usually done by the Senior Auditors, Audit Manager and Credit
Officers. We know (and you probably do too) that it takes 2-3 years to
become expert enough to get AR stats done quickly. We show people how to
get the numbers faster, read the numbers, get numbers summarized into analysis
more quickly and make sense out of the trends to diagnose situations that don't
make sense. Our students are smart and have common sense; we show
them what makes sense and that makes it easier to spot fraud and other
situations that are threatening from a collateral or business standpoint.
We discourage beginners from taking Intermediate ABL because the "industry
standards" are learned in the first 6 months and beginners need to develop the
hands-on street smart accounting and technical skills to move to the diagnostic
phase. Joe has a saying: "It's like rock and roll, you can read
about it, but you've got to hear it to understand it." Intermediate and
Senior examiners often handle new business, work-outs and complex deals that
require experience and skills to master, we accelerate that process.
Intermediate ABL Auditing also includes other areas such as dealing with
computers on the road, professional skills, legal concerns, work-out situations,
hidden offsets, and skills that are needed to step through to more senior levels
of the ABL profession. Finally, the course is updated after each class for
new ideas, emerging issues, better examples, etc. and because it is taught so
frequently, it is constantly improving with age.
What other course are you working on?
We are always working on something new, but don't
disclose that information until the release of the
We hear great things about Intermediate ABL Auditing, who's the
Joe Caplan started in ABL in
1985 and has been in the ABL business as an auditor, back-office administrator,
software developer and seminar instructor (all ABL related!) ever since.
He has been noted as one of the leading authorities on ABL auditing techniques
and computer based reports, often writing and speaking on the two subjects.
Up until 2003, her routinely handled 25-30 field examinations per year, helping
him to stay current and he has personally completed over 550 ABL Examinations.
He still gets into the field a few times per year. As a CPA and the
Managing Director of FinSoft, LLC, his deep knowledge of ABL auditing and
hands-on computer programming skills have helped to develop the most complete
ABL auditing package ever created. Don't take our word for it, hear
what students are saying about the class.
What is ABL-Help,
I keep hearing that I should get it?
In late 1998, we introduced ABL-Help as a Windows .HLP file, later
converted to HTML Help and then an executable program. The concept grew
from a class in Chicago where some of the students were professional educators
and they suggested a glossary of terms and other reference materials.
Since we did not teach a beginners course at that time and we have lots of
experience with Windows Help files, it was a logical "fit" to put the glossary
and resources into a Windows Help file. In brief, the concept of ABL-Help
was to provide reference materials that are covered in the classes and that are
basic enough to be not covered in the classes. That grew and grew over the
years to become more of a reference of ineligibles, formulas and turnover
diagnostics. We started with (I seem to recall), 42 ineligible items.
Students, friends and professional associates contributed the rest of the
ineligibles and it continues to grow each year (now at 185 ineligible items).
That file now includes hundreds of hours of work, explanations and diagnostics
for turnover, math formulas, ineligibles, a glossary, basic audit risks and
more. A newer version, introduced for 2012 and named ABL-Help Pro includes
fraud alert topics, more formulas and additional resources for
underwriting. We modernized the interface to create an EXE program that
can be licensed per user. All proceeds go to charities. Learn more
Do you update ABL Help?
Yes we do. ABL-Help was updated 5 times in 1999 (its first year) and 5
times in 2000, 4 times in 2001, 3 times in 2002, 2 times in 2003, 2 timed in
2004 and 2 times in 2005, 3 times in 2006, 2 times in 2007, once in 2008, once
in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. The file was renamed to ABL-Help 2000 on
12/15/99 and the name is updated for the current year, with a decimal signifying
the release number for that year. We have gotten lots of ideas and
implement them as time permits. ABL-Help Classic or ABL-Help Pro are
included in most of our courses. Once we have
your e-mail and general information for our mailing list, we send out updates
with our on-line newsletters. To leverage some new technology, the
ABL-Help file became ABL-Help Free, ABL-Help Classic and ABL-Help Pro in 2012.
for more details.
Does Joe Caplan own and run FinSoft (AssetWriter and AssetReader)?
Yes. However, for integrity, FinSoft's products are
used, marketed or sold in the courses (except of course for the seminars on
Using AssetWriter or Using AssetReader, taught to new users of those
products). ABL course examples may include spreadsheet examples,
generally with Excel and simple workpaper examples that illustrate complex
We hear that the Intermediate ABL Auditing class is "Hi-Tech," what's
We consider our courses to be state-of the art and the DATA course was
indeed ground breaking for the industry. The courses have been using
multimedia training concepts (projectors, animation, sound, etc.) since Windows
3.1 and 386 computers. We're on our 8th generation of training software,
third projector, fourth travel bag and sixth computer. Unfortunately for
us, this has meant large amounts of time and capital reinvestment for course
development, course programming, instructor training, and troubleshooting
experience. Fortunately we're connected with a bleeding edge technology
company to bring it all together and make it look easy on the road.
Hi-tech, no (probably words from a no-tech competitor).
Joe, What's the worst thing that ever happened to you on the road
Two memorable moments: First Story: I had a class of 13 in
Dallas and I got delayed in Houston due to mechanical problems. I missed
the flight to Dallas and got to the Hotel at @1:00am. Got up at 4:00am to
catch a 6:10am flight to Dallas, leaving me with only 50 minutes to make the
8:00 am start. My cab driver was familiar with the back streets and we
"zoomed" to the Doubletree at Lincoln Center. I left a message at the
hotel. When I arrived, I was the second person there because everyone else
was stuck in traffic! Second story: Airport security in Boston
copped my projector cable at security by accident and I was teaching a class the
next day at Disneyworld in Florida. We simply followed the lesson plan
until FedEx delivered a new cable the next day by 10:00am ($130.00 with
freight). One more story: I was in Los Angeles to present a lunch
speech on "Audit Technology" to the
California Finance Association and my hard drive went down. I was there a
day early and had time to get a new hard drive: I installed all 8 programs
needed for the presentation (a real Boy Scout to have all backups handy!) and
stayed up until 4:00 am getting it to go. I arrived at the luncheon site
by 8:00 am and continued to get it going until 11:30 am. It went
flawlessly. "Don't worry" and "Stay Calm" are the motto's of the trainer.
We know of a lending training provider that had a sprinkler system go off at a
[high priced] hotel, but we know they responded professionally and continued
with the course.
Joe, what would or does your business screen saver say?
"Get the Spectators off the Field!" This has always been my
favorite business saying.
"You can stand me up at the gates of hell -- but I won't back down"
(Tom Petty) This the attitude.
Since 09/11/2001 "Enjoy what you have while you're striving for what you want"
How often are the classes updated?
See the How Current Page link
Why Asset Based Lending?
"Because it's the Greatest Profession on Earth."
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