28 Aug

Why CA (SA) Spells “Success”

The debate on a career path has always been on whether to choose a career path for job satisfaction or for monetary reward. The debate also begs the question: Can I get both monetary reward, as well as job satisfaction and the answer, is a very firm yes. Research revealed that the South African businesses needed 22 000 qualified accountants. Therefore students choosing to study chartered accountancy have a better chance of good achieving better career prospects than any other profession and getting well paid because of the demand.

If you have a flair for numbers, excel in Mathematics and enjoy the business working environment, then job satisfaction as a chartered accountant will be a given.

Perhaps you plan on going into commerce, starting your own business or want to enter a profession that will ensure you always have a great job anywhere in the world. The smart thing to do is become a chartered accountant.

The South African Chartered Accountancy [CA (SA)] qualification is not only highly regarded in South Africa, but throughout the world and currently, there are approximately 6 000 South African chartered accountants who are working abroad. In its 2010/11 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) rated South Africa No.1 in the world for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards – largely thanks to the quality of its chartered accountants.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Senior Executive for Professional Development, Transformation and Growth Chantyl Mulder herself a CA (SA) says that the qualification opens up the world. “With CA (SA) after your name, there are very few business obstacles you can’t conquer. The CA (SA) designation is well thought of and recognised the world over.”

It is easily the most sought-after professional qualification in South African business. A recent survey of the top 200 companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) found that:

  • 11.59% of Directorships held by MBAs are CAs(SA)
  • 32% of Directors of the JSE top 200 are CAs(SA)
  • 75% of CFOs of the JSE top 200 are CAs(SA)
  • 32% of CEOs of the JSE top 40 are CAs(SA)

This shows that there is a demand for chartered accountants in the corporate world. And, this year an independent survey of South African Business leaders found that:

  • 99% knew of the CA (SA) designation.
  • 55% said the CA (SA) designation was the “most admired” business designation.

How do you become a CA(SA)?

•  You’ve got to have that university exemption in the bag (that means you must work hard in your last few years of school).

•  You’ll need at least a C-plus in mathematics (simple maths literacy is a definite no-no).

•  Maybe you did accounting until grade 12 (but that’s a bonus, not an essential)

•  You must hold your own easily when debating in the English language.

Next, you need to apply to study a relevant B.Com degree at a SAICA accredited university. SAICA, as a registered Education and Training Quality Authority (ETQA), only recognises certain universities as having the necessary quality to academically qualify prospective CAs (SA). These universities are rigorously and continuously monitored to promote quality in the content and delivery of the education programme. A list of accredited universities and detailed career information is available at www.nowican.co.za

Once you finish your B.Com degree and then the certificate in theory of accounting (CTA) – an Honours level degree – you will start your three-year internship or ‘articles’ with an accounting firm, in government or in a commercial company. This is called a training contract.

A training contract is tough. You have to hold down a full-time job, study for your various exams — and still find time for some recreation. But it can be done – and more than 33 000 CAs(SA) can testify to this! However, it requires discipline and good time management.

You will be deeply involved with practical issues of real businesses, all the while fine-tuning your academic knowledge. You could possibly work in one or a combination of the following environments:

  • Auditing – express your opinion on financial statements
  • Taxation – Tax Consultant – advise clients on their tax
  • Accounting – lead a team that handles the payroll, VAT returns, tax reports, annual financial statements, cash flow forecasts etc.
  • Business Advisory – business plans, profit improvement advice, investment strategies
  • Forensic Accounting – investigate fraud, high overhead costs
  • Corporate Finance – mergers, acquisitions, disposals
  • Schemed Finance – structured deals, investments and businesses
  • Company Secretarial – Statutory books
  • Wealth Management – estate planning, wills and trusts
  • Entrepreneur – pursue a business of your choice
  • Education – Lecturer

If you do your training contract in one of the large accounting firms, you can specialise fairly early in your training, focusing on specific sectors or industries such as, for example, mining, manufacturing, banking or financial services.

In a small- or medium-sized firm you may find you can move into, or even start, one of the firm’s subsidiary companies that might include corporate governance, internal auditing, IT and recruitment. In government, you might see what makes the economy tick at the National Treasury or guard public spending with the Auditor-General. Regardless of where you serve your training contract, your qualification is the same — the globally recognised and prestigious CA(SA).

While completing your training contract there are two final qualifying exams (QE 1 and 2) that must be passed before you can call yourself a CA(SA) and can practise as a CA(SA) and or as a registered auditor (RA).

You can now work in almost any field of business. For example:

•  You can go into private practice.

•  You can work as a tax advisor or consultant.

•  You can become a forensic accountant.

•  An entrepreneur.

•  A financial manager.

•  A chief financial officer (CFO).

•  A chief executive officer (CEO).

The list goes on, beyond accounting firms.

A CA(SA)’s reputation is built on four pillars:

•  integrity

•  ethics

•  technical excellence

•  training

So, go ahead. Take that big step and become a chartered accountant and put that smart designation after your name — CA(SA). It’s called success.


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