Last year, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa number one for Auditing and Reporting standards for the fifth year in a row. South Africa beat out 148 other countries to the organisation’s top spot in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2014-15.
It seems almost unbelievable that a developing economy like our own has auditing systems that are more respected than first-world countries such as the USA and the UK. But a long history of rigorous auditing policy has led our practices to be seen as a blueprint for other countries to pattern themselves after. As an extension, the South African Chartered Accountant qualification – the highest qualification in the accounting and auditing industry – has become extremely sought-after as well.
“This country’s Chartered Accountant qualification is considered among the best in the world, due to the rigour of the process itself,” said Mandi Olivier, senior executive for Professional Development at South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), in 2012.
A rigorous road to the top
A Chartered Accountant in South Africa is required to complete four years at a university, complete two qualifying examinations, be registered with a professional board and get three years’ practical experience in the workplace. All universities that offer the Chartered Accountant programme in South Africa are required to meet standards set by professional body SAICA. This ensures consistently high standards and a fairly standardised outcome in qualification.
“It is SAICA that ensures universities maintain high standards,” wrote Kim Cloete for leader.co.za. “The programmes need to meet SAICA’s requirements across all levels of learning and teaching, and all accounting departments at SAICA-accredited universities have to complete an annual self-evaluation. Representatives from the organisation visit the universities once in a five-year cycle to ensure that they are sticking to the standards.”
Milton Segal, senior lecturer at Wits, told Cloete that the course is “evolutionary” and changes from year to year. “It’s so different to 20 years ago when students were studying to be auditors. SAICA has introduced and adapted new projects and assignments. Part of the framework we adhere to is to include leadership, management skills and teamwork,” he said.
A local and global favourite
Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa is a process that requires in-depth technical knowledge, a certain amount of innate logical ability, discipline and determination. The result is that Chartered Accountants in South Africa are being sought after world-wide. Chartered Accountants in South Africa are consistently offered positions in countries such as the UK, where the cultures intersect and employers are familiar with the South African work ethic and rigour of the qualification they boast.
And demand stretches further than that: Chartered Accountants in South Africa are also sought after locally.
In 2009, SAICA contracted an independent research company to determine which qualifications were most frequently cited as a prerequisite for a job offering. The result: The CA qualification was held in the highest demand in the country.
“Appointments advertised during October in a weekly financial publication and a daily newspaper disclosed an overwhelming preference for South African chartered accountants,” cited a report in the Business Day.
The research, which scanned job advertisements for a month in these two newspapers, found that 9% singled out the Chartered Accountant designation as a prerequisite for a job, while a whopping 46% of weekly business publication advertisements called for Chartered Accountants in South Africa. The next most popular qualification was the MBA.
Matsobane Matlwa, SAICA’s then executive president, said: “The reason the Chartered Accountant (designation) is the top business designation is the education and training of a Chartered Accountant in South Africa.” These, he said, were subject to standards that met, and in many instances exceeded, those on an international level.
In a global economy that is becoming increasingly open, the Chartered Accountant in South Africa is becoming increasingly eminent. If your company could use the skills that come with a highly qualified, seasoned Chartered Accountant in South Africa, Contact The Finance Team. Our associates provide services ranging from part time finance director to financial managers and financial accountants, according to your needs.
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