In February 2020, Old Mutual launched OM CA(Libre) – a programme aimed at building a community around the more than 250 chartered accountants employed across Old Mutual Limited − to enhance their sense of belonging and to build a shared purpose, values and identity. Built on the foundations of a long and admirable focus on diverse and transformed growth and with ongoing learning at its core, it is a superb example of the new SAICA CPD principles at work in one of South Africa’s largest corporate environments.
In true Old Mutual style, the name OM CA(Libre) − hinting at Old Mutual’s calibre of chartered accountants and Libre meaning ‘free’ − was voted for by community members in a competition held on launch day.
Casper Troskie, Old Mutual Limited CFO, who joined the group in 2018, is passionate about not just attracting aspiring chartered accountants to complete their training contracts on the Old Mutual Chartered Accountant Training Programme (OMCAT) but also ensuring that there is active support of chartered accountants throughout their careers. This includes continuous learning, personal growth and guidance on ‘what next?’ once their training contracts are completed. Casper joined forces with Nazrien Kader, recently appointed Old Mutual Limited Head of Tax, and Nic Loggenberg, an Old Mutual veteran who has shepherded the Old Mutual chartered accountants training programme for many years. Together they brainstormed and scripted the vision for the space that Old Mutual needs to take up in the careers of all chartered accountants employed at Old Mutual – for the good of their personal career trajectories and that of the transformation of the profession in the South African context.
‘The world is evolving quickly and constantly, and we need to keep up,’ Casper says. ‘Few career paths in financial services offer as many opportunities as chartered accounting does, and qualified members need to be ready to seize these as and when they arise. We believe Old Mutual is unique in many respects, offering an incredibly diverse business environment filled with exciting opportunities – from insurance through to investments, asset management, banking and social and community support. Through its commitment to developing young black chartered accountants and exposing them to the full spectrum of “life at Old Mutual”, our focus enhances their skill-set and leverages the institutional knowledge of those who have been employed at Old Mutual for longer. We believe we are making a strong contribution as chartered accountants to Old Mutual’s 175-year legacy in Africa by making a meaningful contribution to the lives of South Africans.’
Old Mutual has built a strong CA(SA) network over the years. Casper notes that few leave Old Mutual. In instances where they choose other pastures, they often return and almost always stay in touch.
‘OM CA(Libre) is intensely focused on the Old Mutual experience of all chartered accountants, including those no longer at Old Mutual,’ comments Nazrien Kader, who has been actively engaged in the accounting profession. Having previously served on the board of SAICA, Nazrien was also a member of the board of SAICA’s Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund and served as a member of the executive committee of one of South Africa’s largest professional services firms, where she worked for over 24 years. ‘Old Mutual’s CA(Libre) programme is different – our focus is not just on technical training. For me, the difference lies in our focus on the experiences that our chartered accountants have at Old Mutual. We believe that sense of belonging and shared purpose not only comes when we work together, but also when we laugh together and grow together. The mandate of the CA(Libre) programme therefore includes being totally serious about fun – we make it our business, despite lockdown constraints, to have fun. This often means that our chartered accountant community gets together just for the sake of it! We have also designed a leadership mobility programme with a twist. We actively encourage and support our chartered accountants, particularly our young black CAs who have graduated through our training programme, to take the plunge and write their story at Old Mutual. Our leaders at Old Mutual, responsible for our diverse businesses, are committed to giving our chartered accountants a flavour of the experience they can have if they choose to move around Old Mutual through our leadership mobility programme, which will formally launch later this year,’ says Nazrien.
‘OM CA(Libre) prides itself on being inclusive. At the OM CA(Libre) launch in February 2020, Old Mutual not only rounded up role models to young CAs within Old Mutual, but also reached out to CAs who left Old Mutual and have since achieved enormous success at other South African corporate giants. Old Mutual’s chartered accountant alumni and those within the Old Mutual family are thrilled to be a part of the CA(Libre) community.’
Working alongside Casper and Nazrien, Nic Loggenberg has been instrumental in driving and monitoring Old Mutual’s student and graduate programmes for aspiring chartered accountants. Old Mutual has always been engaged in attracting, supporting, developing and retaining young CAs(SA), starting at school level and continuing throughout their careers. Through the OMCAT programme, 46 CAs (classified EE, of which 26 are African black and 29 are female) have graduated to date with the support of Old Mutual’s comprehensive infrastructure. Old Mutual currently supports 14 accounting bursary students and have 11 trainee accountants on the OMCAT programme, completing their training contracts. These trainees have the opportunity to develop, by rotating through the diverse businesses and gathering skills and experience as they work on the completion of their exams and achieving their CA(SA) qualification.
‘We are very proud of all our graduates – we are continually inspired by their growth and progress,’ says Nic. ‘The high calibre (CA(Libre) pun intended) of our graduates consistently makes them targets for other companies and, in the isolated instances where we bid them farewell, we feel good that we have sent well trained, highly experienced CAs out into the world, to do great things in corporate South Africa. After a difficult few years for the CA(SA) designation, we remain committed to assisting SAICA to rebuild the trust in our profession.’
At Old Mutual, it is a strongly held belief that learning is a never-ending pursuit, and that this responsibility is shared by individuals and the organisation.
With this top of mind, OM CA(Libre) seeks to actively drive interactions with its community of more than 250 chartered accountants – ensuring that they are kept abreast of industry trends, are able to access and learn from senior leaders, and can have fun while doing so.
‘As we unveiled the themes and focus areas for the 2020 year and beyond at the CA(Libre) launch, the audience was left in no doubt that our focus is firmly future forward – moving a step ahead and staying there. With a full CPD briefing by Mandi Olivier already under its belt, the OM CA(Libre) community is looking forward to leadership round tables over the coming months. A digital fluency bootcamp is scheduled for September and a CA flash mob in November – and these are just a few of the 2020 highlights. While COVID-19 has continued to place new and unusual conditions on gatherings, the OM CA(Libre) planning has steamed ahead – converting physical events to online successes regardless of the challenges thrown up by the virus,’ added Nazrien.
Casper ends by saying: ‘We are looking forward to piloting the leadership mobility programme that will allow Old Mutual-wide “matchmaking” between those young chartered accountants wanting broader experience and the areas of our business that are eager to retain their skills. The breadth and depth of knowledge that CA trainees gain at Old Mutual is invaluable to us and Old Mutual is ready to offer unprecedented levels of cross-pollination to those who want it.’
Notes Nic: ‘We have also aligned the basics of our internal training initiatives and programmes with the requirements of the new SAICA CPD policy, thereby ensuring that the skills our chartered accountants acquire, both on the job and in the classroom, are noted and contribute effectively to achieving holistic experience and personal development … and, importantly, aligns with SAICA’s output-based CPD process.’
Mandi Olivier, Senior Executive: Professional Development, compliments OML on their fresh approach and commitment to the ongoing learning and development of their staff and for firmly embracing the new SAICA CPD policy effective 1 January 2020, which has shifted from measuring hours to that of embracing lifelong learning and focusing on developing professional competence relevant to one’s specific role. Says Olivier: ‘Commitment to lifelong learning is a critical part of being a professional, in today’s rapidly changing world more so than ever. While a professional is responsible for embracing lifelong learning, support from employers through programmes such as those put in place by OML assists in the skills transformation journey so urgently needed for CAs(SA) to remain relevant.’
Olivier points out that her favourite quote from Alvin Toffler’s 1972 book Future shock says it all: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’