Benjamin and Leticia both wanted to grow in their various audit firms and climb up the ranks to partner level, but as no growth was possible, they decided to start their own firm and grow it themselves
In 2011, Leticia du Toit moved from her hometown of Phalaborwa to Pretoria to pursue her aspiration of becoming a CA(SA). She had just turned 20 and was thriving in the big new city life. While enjoying the nightlife that Pretoria had to offer, she met her now husband, Benjamin du Toit. In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they courageously launched their own firm called Bentich.
When Benjamin and Letica met, Benjamin was a BComp Entrepreneurship student at the University of Pretoria, and Leticia’s career choice as a CA(SA) inspired him to pursue it too.
Studying BComp Entrepreneurship gave Benjamin the perception of being a ‘Jack of all trades but a master of none’ and with the CA(SA) route, his career path became clearer.
‘I completed my degree in 2011, started my SAICA articles in 2013 while studying part-time through Unisa, and completed my articles in 2016. I stayed on as an audit manager for a year at this firm. In 2018 I moved to another firm as a senior accountant/audit manager up until October 2020 when we started Bentich,’ says Benjamin.
His career highlights include secondment opportunities and headhunting requests from various directors to operate the accounting function of their businesses. Benjamin is also known for his in-depth knowledge of IFRS.
‘One of the clients I worked on I was able to identify a way for the company to save up to R16 million on tax,’ says Benjamin proudly.
In 2020 the accounting firm that he worked for registered him as an AGA(SA), and he will be writing his APC board exam in December en route to becoming a CA(SA).
Leticia’s journey on becoming a CA(SA) began in 2011. She also started working at a firm in Centurion, but as she was never registered by the firm as a trainee, she decided to move to another audit firm in Pretoria East in 2012.
‘Here I gained great knowledge and exposure to not only audit but also accounting, tax and management accounting engagements with various clients. I was also given the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, as the directors had great faith in me and my work. After completing my articles in 2015, I stayed on as audit manager until September 2020,’ says Leticia.
She did both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies part-time through Unisa and completed both her board exams in 2018. She registered as a CA(SA) in 2019 and is currently in the process of becoming a registered candidate auditor.
Going into business with their significant other.
Benjamin and Leticia both wanted to grow in their various audit firms and climb up the ranks to partner level, but as no growth was possible, they decided to start their own firm and grow it themselves.
‘Going into business with your significant other isn’t always as much fun as one would think. We have different work styles; we know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. In that we complement each other, as it brings growth to the company,’ says Ben.
‘Benjamin is our networking guru for gaining clients. He also loves structure and brings that to the company. I am admin and organised chaos where I love to sort out a mess and working under pressure. He knows legislation and accounting principles very well whereas I am quick to learn and pick up something new,’ says Leticia. ‘What sets us apart from other accounting firms is our transparency, quality and owner interaction. We also try to accommodate our clients within their budget and go the extra mile.’
Advice to those aspiring to start their own practice.
‘Rome wasn’t built in a day. Patience. It takes time to grow, but you will reap the fruits. It is like growing a tree from a seed: for the first few days you won’t see any movement, but just keep trusting and giving it water. Once it sprouted, you will feel the pride and joy. Start with the bare minimum to save costs, like working from home and online accounting software. Once it starts growing, you can think bigger.’
One of the challenges they faced was that of networking, as they couldn’t network like in pre-pandemic days. So they had to rely on social media, branding and word of mouth.
‘It is still a challenge but remember, 1 becomes 2 becomes 4, etc,’ says Leticia.
In five years’ time they hope to have a separate assurance engagement company and expand Bentich’s services. Leticia would love to see them providing, among others, forensic audit services, as this is one of her interests.
A few months ago they were subcontracted to assist in the compliance of PFMA, a state-owned entity, where Benjamin and Leticia each had to manage a team of some 50 consultants, including 10 chartered accountants. This posed a great challenge, but Bentich was praised for its work.