KPMG CEO calls for strengthening of South Africa’s CA pipeline
KPMG South Africa CEO Ignatius Sehoole has called for more vigilance than ever in South Africa’s accounting sector, as the Covid-19 crisis poses a unique challenge to the business environment. He calls on the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) to aid with the process.
The crisis has brought with it devastating economic consequences, which paves the way for high risk activity that borders on financial malpractice. According to Sehoole, South Africa was already in a precarious situation before the crisis, and the accounting sector must work extra hard to preserve integrity in the current period.
“Let us not forget that Covid-19 came to us at a very difficult time for South Africa. When it hit, we had just been downgraded to junk status, and as such we already had a huge task ahead of us to pull ourselves back up to investment level,” said Sehoole.
For him, the efforts should extend beyond those currently in the accounting profession, all the way through the chartered accountancy pipeline. Emphasising the role of SAICA, he stated that the education and proper selection of chartered accountants (CAs) was of crucial importance.
Beyond this, he called upon schools and universities to embibe principles of integrity in the CA profession, given its importance in maintaining financial stability South Africa’s business environment. “We all need to work together to ensure the pipeline does not collapse, as if it does, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot, not only as a profession, but as a country.”
Sehoole – who has been vocal in calling for accounting reform – is well positioned to comment on the importance of quality accounting, currently in charge of a mammoth turnaround at Big Four accounting and advisory firm KPMG. Following involvement with the Gupta scandal in 2017, the firm fell out of favour amongst regulators and businesses alike, and it has taken consolidated restructuring and reputation building under Sehoole to restore some stability at the firm.
A number of accounting scandals in the same year were devastating for South Africa’s economy as a whole. The country is now contending with a slow economy combined with a global health crisis, and Sehoole urges the financial sector to remain strong through this period. “This is important if we want to take our country out of junk status, take it to investment level and improve the lives of all South Africans,” he said.