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Cover Story: Let’s get technical

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A department headed up by a highly energetic and proactive team stands a great chance of being effective.
As a hive of activity, the Standards Department of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is the technical engine room for the whole organisation and all its members. Its prime objective – to influence legislation and technical standards and ensure all members are well-informed of any changes made in the profession. In this industry there’s no room for confusion and misinformation.

As a group of specialists who always need to be one step ahead of the competition, the team focuses on seven core competencies: Assurance, Ethics and Members Advice, Financial Reporting, Financial Services, Governance and Non-IFRS Reporting, Public Sector and Africa, Sustainability and Integrated Reporting, and Taxation.

To keep abreast of all technical industry changes, regular interaction takes place with other departments within the SAICA, as well as external stakeholders.
Vital responsibilities include design, development and the quality approval of all technical SAICA seminars and events, influencing standards and legislation by managing key stakeholder relationships, and ensuring high-quality technical submissions and/or contributions into external processes through various committees within the Standards Department.

Constant communication around technical issues must take place with members to keep them informed. Various platforms are used for this purpose, including media, weekly Standards & Legislation e-mails, website content and regular presentations at road shows. Online technical guidance is also made available for small- and medium-sized practitioners and members in businesses. Additionally, guides and circulars are issued to assist members who require clarity.

In light of this, and housed within the Standards Department, is the SAICA’s recently launched Tax Suite. The Tax Suite offering enhances the current tax facility available to SAICA members, and also extends to non-members on an annual subscription basis.

The suite is primarily, but not solely, aimed at tax practitioners, so just about anyone who is impacted by tax issues will benefit from a subscription. The Tax Suite business objective is to offer comprehensive tax information via a single electronic portal, thereby
increasing the number of users interacting with it. This is achieved by offering specialised tax information, tools and services, in one central place.

Now, let’s meet the specialists…

MUNEER HASSAN CA(SA)
The words of Nelson Mandela inspire Muneer Hassan, Senior Executive of Standards at SAICA: –
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Hassan’s ambition in life has always been to make a difference. As a child, looking up to his dad and elder brothers (all within the accountancy profession), he dreamed of qualifying as a CA and making a contribution in the business world. His
dream has come true.

In November 2007 Muneer Hassan began his tenure at SAICA as Project Director for Tax. He was promoted to his current role in March 2012. As Senior Executive, his main objective is to ensure that the SAICA continues to play a leading role in shaping the regulatory environment and governance framework of the profession. This is to be achieved through managing key stakeholder relationships, ensuring high-quality technical contributions into external processes, technical communication and services to SAICA members.

Prior to joining SAICA, Hassan was a technical tax advisor at the South African Revenue Service. He holds certificates in Capital Gains Tax as well as Advanced Taxation. Ewald Müller, former Senior Executive: Standards at the SAICA, is his mentor. Müller has prepared Mr. Hassan for his current role at the SAICA!

Ashley Vandiar CA(SA)
Ashley Vandiar is a man who prefers his actions and accomplishments to describe his character. Quoting Shakespeare, “Talkers are no good doers; be assured we come to use our hands and not our tongues.” As Project Director for Assurance and Members’ Advice, he need say no more. As an audit specialist, Vandiar is responsible for all technical audit and assurance-related matters affecting SAICA members as well as the public. He liaises with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) to influence legislation affecting the assurance profession. He also acts as SAICA members’ representative in discussions with professional bodies.

A desire he nurtures for the profession is to be the first to move beyond broad-based black economic empowerment, and to focus on class rather than race. He explains, “While the current practice has its merits in addressing unfairness created by apartheid,
I believe that 20 years post democracy has changed the economic landscape … in order to eradicate poverty and inequality, we need to look beyond the … skin colour of individuals, and rather focus on their economic and financial class.” Vandiar is also responsible for ethics relating to SAICA members, for the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct, the management of SAICA’s query system, and the provision of ad hoc audit lectures for 3rdand Honour-year students at certain universities.

“I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who gives me inner strength. That is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” Says Vandiar.

Bongeka Nodada CA(SA)
Nodada always wanted to achieve great things in life, but wasn’t sure how to go about it: “I knew that I wanted to be successful… throughout my high school years I did my research, and it was through that process that I became aware of the chartered
accountancy profession,” she says.

“My career choice was informed by the things that I am passionate about, and those are working with figures and accounting,” explains Bongeka Nodada CA(SA), Project Director for Financial Reporting Standards.

After completing her articles with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nodada joined SAICA as a Project Manager and was later promoted to Project Director. Nodada currently manages the financial reporting function at SAICA, along with juggling commentary on financial reporting pronouncements, managing relationships with key stakeholders, and keeping members informed of latest developments in the financial reporting arena. Diligent, ambitious and down to earth, Bongeka Nodada believes in, “The choices we make dictate the life we lead.”

Juanita Stenekamp CA(SA)
Inspired by a love for people and the fact that each individual is a unique being, Juanita Steenekamp CA(SA) was first motivated to study towards a B.Com degree in Industrial Psychology.

“I had my first child during the time I was studying for my Honours degree, which I failed and then redid the next year. I really believe that was a turning point in my life – it made me believe that a lot is possible with very hard work,” she says. After achieving her Honours in Industrial Psychology, she went to work at Eskom. “I worked in human resources as a recruitment specialist, and after five years in that role I was looking for a new challenge.”

And the new challenge was set. Six months pregnant with her second child, she wrote her final exam, and at the age of 34 she qualified as a CA(SA). After completing her articles, she worked as a financial advisor in the financial reporting department at Eskom.

Mrs. Steenekamp is now Project Director for Governance and Non-IFRS Reporting and provides advice and services to SAICA members. She deals with legislation, primarily the Companies and Close Corporations Acts. She also coordinates submissions
to the the dti and other state entities. Steenekamp was part of the group that compiled the SAICA Companies Act guide. Additionally, her responsibilities include providing a secretariat function to the Legal Compliance Committee. Spending time with her children is important to her, and when relaxing, she enjoys reading crime novels.

Leigh Roberts CA(SA)
Leigh Roberts CA(SA), Project Director of Sustainability and Integrated reporting at SAICA, is also an ex-financial journalist who has worked in both print and television media. Roberts admits that it’s the fact that it’s an internationally transportable qualification that influenced her decision to pursue a career as a CA(SA). Studying at the University of Natal, she went on to complete her articles with Ernst & Young.

In early 2009, she joined SAICA, pursuing her interest in environmental matters. She is deeply involved in the development of integrated reporting. Roberts is a member of the Working Group of the Integrated Reporting Committee in South Africa as well as a member of the Technical Task Force of the International Integrated Reporting Council. She is also the current chairperson of the FASSET audit committee, and a technical advisor to members of the International Federation of Accountants’ (IFAC) International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB). She previously served as a member of the FASSET management board. FASSET is the Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services.

Recognising the need for a perspective beyond just the financial, Leigh says that the financial is influenced by the non-financial and vice versa. Leigh comments: “Accountants have the power to change the world. Making business decisions in the context of not only the financial, but also considering the resultant social and environmental impacts.” Unsurprisingly, Leigh also enjoys watching
business television interviews that are entertaining, informative and insightful.

Mohamed Lorgat CA(SA)
Describing himself as optimistic and cheerful, Mohammed Ebrahim Lorgat, Director for Public Sector and Africa, is also a hard worker and someone who does not shy away from a challenge. All the technical aspects related to the Public Sector communicated to SAICA’s members and the public fall under Mr. Lorgat’s responsibilities.

He explains: “I am there to remind them that Government also has an important role to play in the standards space. Also, because my role is linked to a sector rather than a subject, I deal with various aspects (accounting, audit, legislation and governance), so I get to interact more regularly with my colleagues who are the experts with regard to private sector matters.”

An accomplishment he would like to see realized for the profession is to have more entry points into it. He says, “Currently the system excludes potential entrants to the profession due to sole reliance on the academic route.” As part of his portfolio, he also provides a secretariat function to the National Public Sector Committee and co-ordinates all SAICA’s submissions on Public Sector technical matters.

Mr. Lorgat represents SAICA on the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) in a technical capacity. Prior to joining SAICA, he was senior audit manager at the Auditor-General South Africa. When he’s not hard at work he’s a die-hard Liverpool and Orlando Pirates fan.

Piet Nel CA(SA) *
Piet Nel CA(SA), Project Director for Tax, is a man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He says, “I am always trying to understand things or to be in the know. For example, when new information (such as a court case) in my field becomes available I would want to read it.”

He excelled at Mathematics in school, and his parents insisted that he study further. It’s fortunate they did, because he now has a B.Com (Hons) (Accounting), M.Com (Taxation), as well as his CA(SA) qualification. In 2012 he joined SAICA to head up the newly established Tax Suite. Previously, he was a senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria with extensive experience in taxation issues. Nel is also a former member of SAICA’s National Tax Committee.

He has written and reviewed technical learning material (based on local and foreign tax law), as well as having facilitated technical learning seminars for tax practitioners .As a compulsive reader, Piet has great respect for a good author.

Somaya Khaki CA(SA) *
Before joining SAICA in 2012 as the Project Director of Tax Suite, Somaya Khaki was a senior tax manager at Deloitte, specialising in corporate and employees’ tax. She worked there for seven years and gained a wealth of experience in different types of taxes.

She has consulted on a variety of interesting and complex transactions across different industries, involving some of the biggest manufacturing, telecommunications, construction, agricultural and mining companies in South Africa.

As project director for Tax Suite, the subscriber based website that offers complete and up-to-date information on tax issues in the country, she says, “The skills and knowledge I gained over the years are now helping me to provide technical input to
our Tax Suite subscribers, coming from a position of first-hand experience with issues faced by various taxpayers. Tax is an ever-changing subject, but having gained the ability to identify the issues and find the solutions will stand me in good stead in my
current role.”

Ranking high on her long list of interests is reading: “I have been known to stay awake most of the night reading an interesting book, when I have the opportunity. I’m fortunate in that I married someone who also used to sit up all night reading when he was a child, so it looks like we’ll have a family of avid readers!”

Family and religion are very important to Khaki, and she works hard to excel in her career while maintaining balance in her personal life.

Sue Ludolph, CA(SA)
Across the globe and in various industries, Sue Ludolph CA(SA), SAICA’s Project Director for Financial Reporting, is well-renowned and respected for her outstanding technical knowledge of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as well as her practical insights into their impact on businesses.

Starting her career as National Recruitment Manager for Deloitte, she was later promoted to the role of National Recruitment Partner. At one stage she was also employed by Educor Limited as Dean of the Commerce Faculty at their Midrand Campus.
Ludolph assumes the vital financial reporting function at SAICA, which includes ensuring that the financial reporting process and accounting technical process of SAICA is functioning properly.

Ludolph also liaises with the JSE Limited in managing the Financial Reporting Investigations Panel (FRIP) that investigates non-compliance with IFRS. She interacts with key international and national stakeholders who are affected by accounting and financial reporting issues and whom SAICA wants to influence in this area.

She ensures that members are informed of latest developments in the accounting and financial reporting arena through the appropriate communication channels of SAICA. In 2011, Ludolph played an instrumental role in establishing a Chief Financial Officer forum to contribute positively toward the development of South Africa’s policy and practice on financial matters that affect business.

Tshegofaco Rametsi CA(SA)
It was Tshegofaco Rametsi’s late orthopaedic surgeon father who planted the seed in her mind to become a CA(SA).
She explains, “He introduced me to CAs (SA). I spent time with them, learning about the profession, and I fell in love with the designation. I wanted to be a doctor like my father but changed my mind after a hospital visit to his patients.” At one point in her
life Rametsi even wanted to be an astronaut working for NASA. However, now she cannot imagine herself doing anything else.

Rametsi began her tenure at SAICA in December 2010, and is now Project Manager for Financial Services. Prior to joining SAICA, she was Scheme Financial Manager at Eternity Private Health Fund Administrators (now Sanlam Health).

Rametsi supports the Project Director in leading the financial services technical, regulatory and assurance function within the Standards Division. Her responsibilities also include management of key stakeholders and the development and delivery of
service offerings. She’s actively involved in mentoring others, especially those who wish to follow the profession:
“I make them aware of support structures presented by SAICA to aspiring CAs(SA), adding that the designation is a gateway to an exciting career that has great earning potential.” In her spare time, she says, “I’m an avid runner – totally addicted.”

Yusuf Dukander CA(SA)
Yusuf Dukander’s childhood dream was to become a pilot, but always being commended for his incredible mathematics and accounting skills in school, and often participating in Olympiads, makes it clear why he chose to pursue a career as a CA(SA) instead.

Mr. Dukander began his CA(SA) career as an External Audit Manager at KPMG Inc. Today he is Project Director: Financial Services at SAICA. Among his responsibilities is leading industry-specific accounting, auditing and regulatory projects, including commenting on relevant legislation and standards for the finance sector.

He also provides a Secretarial function in the management of project groups for the banking, exchange control, investment management, long-term insurance, medical schemes, retirement funds and short-term insurance industries. Of great significance is
the time he has dedicated to Stakeholder Relationship Management with the various regulatory authorities.

According to Dukander, a challenge facing the profession is that the regulatory landscape has changed and supervisory authorities are going to place more reliance on the assurance function. This ties in with the combined-assurance model that organisations need to familiarise themselves with.

By being a brand ambassador for CA(SAs), it is his aim to spark interest among the youth to join the chartered accountancy profession. When asked which quote has inspired him in life, he says: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Dukander regards passing both his Board examinations on the first attempt as highlights of his career. In addition to being an avid car fan, he has taken up gym and enjoys watching doccies.

Author: Lynn Grala
Venue: The Maslow Hotel, Photography: BrightLiquidLight
Piet Nel and Somaya Khaki is not present on the photograph*