Home Articles QEII Results: The cream of the QEII 2012 crop

QEII Results: The cream of the QEII 2012 crop


The cream of the QEII 2012 crop

Keren Swanson, Allan Gray, trainee.

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I always wanted to be in the corporate sphere. There are few other degrees that come close to the opportunities that present themselves once you obtain your CA(SA) designation. Many business leaders are CAs(SA) and one immediately gains a certain level of respect when people know you are a CA(SA). The degree and training provide an extremely solid base from which to work in business and elicit a certain way of thinking, making you suitable for a great variety of careers.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I drew up an achievable and detailed timetable in terms of what needs to be completed each day. Once you have a plan, it is less likely that you will procrastinate and fall behind. I study more than 8 hours a day on average, splitting it into two major sessions (morning and evening) with short 15 minute breaks in between. The break that I take at midday is long enough to feel revitalised for the next session.

During this break I either sleep or leave the house to exercise or see friends. As I did past papers during the course before the QEII, I summarized some of the answers that I thought might come up again into a book, grouping similar topics together.

This book formed the base of my theoretical studying. When Board studying started, I first went through my book to get a solid theoretical base. Once I’d gone through the theory, I did as many past papers as possible, trying my best to stick to time limits. This allowed me to get used to the way in which they asked questions and provided excellent practise for the actual Board exam.

What support did you get from your company?
We received a few weeks of study leave and they had an external company come in to practise some of the techniques that you may use in the Board paper.

Advice to other candidates preparing for the QE Exams.

Stay focused during this time of study and maintain a good balance of studying and social activities so that you are refreshed and focused. Work hard for these few weeks, it is definitely worth every minute spent studying when you finally hear those sweet words that you passed.

2. Leanne Hackner, Investec, currently in Capital Markets.

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I always knew I wanted to go ‘into business’ and the CA(SA) route was an option that kept a lot of doors open. How did you prepare for the exams? Throughout university, I studied with a group of close friends, and we kept this study group throughout Board 1 and 2. During study leave, we all met and sat around a table doing past exam papers and discussing the solutions.

How will this achievement change your life?
Being qualified will give me the freedom to move forward with my career. All the hard work has now paid off. Your message to other candidates preparing for the QE II Exams. It’s the last stretch guys – just push through. Finding friends to study with makes the time spent learning more bearable.

3. Andiswa Mjuleka, Standard Bank, trainee acountant (3rd year).

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I believe that the CA(SA) route would equip me with both technical and professional skills that will enable me to become a well-rounded and influential business leader. In addition, the CA(SA) designation is well recognised globally and will expose me to many global and local opportunities.

How did you prepare for the exams?
APT afforded me an opportunity to revise technical skills and knowledge. I also attempted past exam papers under exam conditions while attending Atcor classes. In this way, I was able to improve my exam technique. Rotating between various areas in the Standard Bank Group gained practical experience that became very valuable when answering questions. I did my best to keep up-to-date with both local and global economic and business news, and I used this valuable knowledge as and when it became relevant. Above all, the grace of my Lord made it possible for the studying to go well according to plan.

How will this achievement change your life?
Coming third will definitely change my perspective on how to approach other challenges that lie ahead.

Advice to other candidates preparing for the QE II Exams.
As Ben Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Preparation is vitally important. Seek to learn and understand from all the mistakes and errors that you make while preparing for the exam. Know which study methods work well for you.

4. Anton Friedlander, Investec.

Why you chose the CA(SA) route? I have always known that one day I want to be a business leader, and so it
seemed logical to pursue a qualification which is widely regarded as the best foundation for business. The CA(SA) degree develops an approach to understanding and interpreting financial information, and has left me feeling well equipped
to enter the business world.

How did you prepare for the exams? By the time a student in the CA(SA) route has reached the second board exam, the technical aptitude is there. The focus for me was therefore largely on exam technique, which is improved by practising exams under exam conditions.

What support did you get from your company?
Investec is extremely supportive of any type of study. They provided technical and technique training, as well as designating a more than sufficient period of study leave.

How will this achievement change your life?
I have no delusions or expectations that this achievement has defined my path. Obviously doing well in a qualifying exam can be a boost in the right direction and for one’s confidence, but it is now that the real work begins. The platform has been built and now it should be sensibly used.

Advice to other candidates preparing for the QE II Exams.
By QE II, you are so unbelievably close to reaching the end goal. Maintain your discipline and keep your eye on the prize. Practise as many past exam papers as you can and try to improve your exam technique.

5. Blake Musgrove, Investec Bank.

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I believe the CA(SA) qualification to be one of the best launching pads into business. It equips you with a well-rounded education and the broad set of skills necessary to be a business leader – this is evidenced by the vast representation of CAs(SA) on many
JSE listed company boards, as well as CAs running businesses in the private sector. The CA(SA) qualification enables you to grasp the backbone of business and provides dynamic and exciting career opportunities.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I put a lot of effort into preparing for the APT course – I viewed this to be the core of my technical preparation for the board exam.
The APT course was an extremely valuable tool for isolating any weaknesses, both technically and with regard to exam technique.

What support did you get from your company? Investec was extremely supportive to all its trainees through the APT and QEII process. Practical and simulated exposure to the subject matter through the rotations on the Investec CA programme assisted in preparation for QEII. The CA(SA) programme team equipped us with all the tools necessary to succeed, including a day dedicated purely to exam technique, which contributed to the excellent results achieved by the Investec trainees in the 2012 QEII.

How do you think this achievement will change your life?
The letters ‘CA(SA)’ add credibility behind one’s name and the qualification is a passport to local and international business opportunities. I believe becoming a CA(SA) has set me on the path to becoming a future business leader where I hope to be able to help manage, lead and grow businesses for the benefit of society and the economy at large. Passing the QEII also opens the door to join a community of respected and influential professionals.

8. Candace Stuhler, Nedbank

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
My father is a CA(SA) and provided essential guidance to help me make my decision. He helped me realise that the CA(SA) designation is highly valued throughout the world and will ensure that I have a multitude of career options available to me.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I prepared for the exam by studying the notes that were provided in the APT lectures as well as my own notes that I had made during CTA.Once prepared, I completed all of the past papers under test conditions and marked them critically. I made sure that I had a very strict timetable in place, which not only ensured that I could complete all of my studying, but also allowed ample time to relax, move house and continue planning my wedding.

What support did you get from your company?
The CA trainee management team was always available to offer us guidance as well as motivation. It made a huge difference knowing that we had a team of supporters behind us.

How will this achievement change your life?
It has reassured me that I have chosen the correct career path for myself by following the CA(SA) route.

Your message to other candidates preparing for the QE II Exams.
Do all that you can but do not overdo it. An imperative part of being able to pass the exam is the mental state that you go into it with; therefore it is critical that you feel as relaxed and calm as possible.

8. Chris von der Heyden, Standard Bank

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
It is one of the most highly recognised financial qualifications in South Africa as well as being very highly regarded overseas. I was always interested in numbers and finance since an early age, making the CA(SA) qualification the most appealing to me.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I took a holiday first in order to fully recharge my batteries before putting in the effort for this final hurdle. I then spent my time in the
library slowly working through all the previous QE papers. By doing the past papers I was continually improving my exam technique and learnt how the examiners like the questions to be answered.

What support did you get from your company?
Standard Bank supported me financially by paying for APT as well as QE2. They also sent us on a pre-board course which focused on exam technique. The study leave they granted us was also very generous and gave us sufficient time to prepare adequately for the exams.

How will this achievement change your life?
It should open even more doors for me than I had initially anticipated.

Your message to other candidates preparing for the QE II Exams.
Don’t spend too much time focusing on theory, APT is for that! Rather take some time off to prepare yourself physically and mentally and then spend your time constructively by working through the past papers thoroughly.

10. Robert Peche, Nedbank.

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I was always interested in business and money, and the CA(SA) route seemed like the most challenging option in the business field. I knew it would give me a broad foundation to take on the world.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I looked for key themes tested in previous years and tried to create a set of frameworks to use in answering those themes so that I would put together well structured answers in the exam. I also found that watching Dragons Den on BBC actually helped a great deal with understanding how extremely successful entrepreneurs think, and the QE II exam tests this practical understanding.

What support did you get from your company?
Nedbank was extremely generous with the leave given to trainees for both QE II and APT. I had also worked in challenging rotations in Capital Finance, Equity Derivatives and Prime Broking, so I had been exposed to front office and accounting environments. I had a great body of knowledge and a strong support base going into the exam.

10. Jacqui Pott, Investec Bank

Why you chose the CA(SA) route?
I wanted something challenging, job security and acknowledgement – and something recognised globally. The CA(SA) filled all of the requirements I had envisioned, and what’s more – it allowed me to follow my passion of problem solving and puzzles.

How did you prepare for the exams?
I completed the Gauteng APT course before writing the exam and ensured that I applied my mind to all the assignments and tutorials provided.

What support did you get from your company?
They held a full day revision workshop at the office where we were given the opportunity to discuss “hot topics”, as well as revising prior year papers. We were also given study leave and, if needed, moral support and guidance.

How is this achievement going to change your life?
Passing QE II has put me another step closer to my goal of becoming a CA(SA), after which I believe a multitude of work opportunities will become available to me. Also, achieving a result in the top 10 of the country will serve as recognition of my hard work and dedication, as well as an affirmation of my abilities.


The 2012 QEII

SAICA is delighted in the overall performance achieved in the recent Part II Financial Management Examination (QEII). An overall pass rate of 78% was achieved in the November 2012 examination, although a slight decline over the previous year’s 83%. The pass rate for first-time candidates was 81% compared to 88% in the previous year. Repeat candidates did not fare as well, with a 59% pass rate compared to last year’s 71% pass rate.
The South African chartered accountancy profession has seen a steady increase in the number of aspiring black chartered accountants passing its QEII examinations. 141 candidates passed the exam this year, compared to 96 candidates three years ago.

Black candidates comprised 65% of those passing the 2012 QEII, which is consistent with theprior year. Commenting on the results, Mandi Olivier, SAICA’s Senior Executive: Professional Development, congratulated the candidates on the excellent pass rate: “This is an immensely impressive achievement requiring talent and great commitment. It is even more pleasing to see the gender transformation of the profession as evidenced by the top three candidates being women and the female pass rate being 80%” she said. QEII is the final examination for trainee CAs(SA) and is the culmination of what should be at least seven years of studying and training. There are currently 34 778 CAs(SA) registered with SAICA, of whom 2 521 are African, 973 are Coloured, 3505 Indian and 27 779 White. Olivier is upbeat about the progress in transforming the profession, stating that there has been a significant increase in the number of black chartered accountants entering the CA(SA) pipeline. The pass rate among African candidates improved significantly between 2009 and 2012 from 49% to 64%.
“The growth in the pass rate of African Black candidates is a positive manifestation that our transformation programmes are bearing fruit, with higher numbers of black candidates emerging,” she adds.


Four of the top ten candidates achieved honours (75% or higher) in the QE II, an immensely impressive achievement requiring talent and great commitment. One of the ‘Top 10’ candidates is black.


1.1 Objective
In view of the primary objective of Part II of the Qualifying Examination (Financial Management), namely to test the integrated application of practical knowledge, candidates are tested on their ability to:

• Apply the knowledge specified in the subject areas set out in the prescribed syllabus
• Identify, define and rank problems and issues
• Analyse information
• Address problems in an integrative manner
• Exercise professional judgement
• Evaluate alternatives and propose practical solutions that respond to user needs
• Communicate clearly and effectively.

1.2. Topics examined
Question 1 (100 marks)
Foodage Ltd is a restaurant franchisor catering to the lower income market offering affordable healthy food. The group diversified by opening its own Indian restaurant chain, wine bars and expanding offshore. Foodage also supplies sauces and other condiments to group restaurants and retail chains


Question 2 (100 marks)
Zimrod (Pty) Ltd is a supplier of corporate clothing and gifts. The company is considering securing the exclusive rights to distribute branded apparel and setting up a new division for this purpose. Zimrod is also in need of a capital injection and is in discussions with a potential investor.


2. Specific comments
2.1. Question 1
Question 1 was the more difficult of the two questions in the exam. Candidates generally struggled with the analysis and discussion of the effectiveness of Foodage’s share buyback programme.

2.2. Question 2
Question 2 was a fair question. It was pleasing to note that the general knowledge and application of the cost of capital has improved in recent years. This question’s strategy and risk management section is generally considered a challenge, although the candidates performed commendably in 2012.

3. General coments
From a review of candidate answers to the two examination questions for the November 2012 examination, the following basic deficiencies were identified. This affected the overall performance of candidates, and it is a matter of concern that candidates annually make the same mistakes. Although certain aspects would appear to be common sense, candidates who pay attention to these areas may even improve their marks to the point of passing.

3.1. Layout and presentation
General layout and presentation has improved since prior years. Candidates should allocate time to planning, layout and presentation of their answers before committing thought to paper, as the presentation marks account for 5 to 10% of the total
available marks.

Very often, candidates start to write without planning their answers properly, which invariably leads to, for example, parts of the same question being answered in several places, or a restatement of facts in different parts. Candidates should be reminded that repeating information given in the question does not earn any marks. Marks are awarded for appropriate presentation and candidates should answer questions in the required format, such as a letter, memorandum or report.

3.2. Irrelevancy
Marks are awarded for quality, not quantity. Verbosity is no substitute for clear, concise, logical thinking and good presentation. Candidates should bear in mind that a display of irrelevant knowledge, however sound, will gain no marks.

3.3. Workings
It is essential that candidates show their workings and supply detailed computations to support the figures in their answers. Marks are reserved for methodology, but can only be awarded for what is shown.

Please start preparing for next year’s examination in good time – sufficient preparation and a review of the basics, together with your training, will stand you in good stead for the November 2013 examination!


SAICA will be changing the format of the Part II Qualifying Examination to a competence-based assessment. The revised assessment of professional competence will be called the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).The APC replaces the two separate discipline exams (Auditing and Financial Management.) The APC will focus on the strategic and managerial aspects of the broader accountancy discipline, with its primary objective being to assess the professional competence developed during the combination of academic, professional and training programmes. The APC will be written for the first time in November 2014.

The process of qualification as a CA(SA) remains unchanged, and only the nature of the assessment of professional competence will change. In the table below are the key changes. For queries email us at apc@saica.co.za.

Author: Helen Bimbassis CA(SA) is Project Director: Education at SAICA.


QEII being replaced by the APC exam

Dr ‘Blade’ Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, noted that: “It is important to create linkages across post-school
institutions and to ensure that all learners get appropriate work experience.” Saica seeks to tackle the critical shortage of accountancy skills in line with the strategic mandate of the country.

Chartered Accountants (SA) are highly sought after because of their technical competence and ability to resolve a variety of complex and unstructured problems. This competence is developed through combining a four year academic
programme with a one year ‘hands-on’ training programme, through which aspiring CAs(SA) apply academic theory in practical ‘real life’ scenarios.

Aspiring CAs(SA) will soon be writing the APC, designed to be more relevant in the modern era than the venerable QEII.
The CA(SA) brand is directly linked to the high standard and rigour of its qualification process, built on the three key components of education, training and assessment. South Africa’s CA(SA) qualification is recognised for its excellence, both locally and

To maintain this exceptional CA(SA) standard and ensure that qualifying for it remains relevant and competitive, it is vital to periodically review how CAs(SA) qualify. A complete review of the qualification process was undertaken in 2007, although small and incremental changes to the programme have been made over the years.

Saica has recognised a need for additional support, innovation and creativity in how we engage and support our
aspiring CAs(SA). In reviewing its qualification process, Saica explored education delivery models that offer the flexibility to
meet the individual needs of learners, while still enabling them to gain appropriate skills for working in a variety of roles after qualifying.

The review of the qualification process has resulted in:

• The adoption of a competency framework that outlines the competencies (knowledge, skills and attributes) required of entry level CAs(SA) (2009)
• A revised training model (adopted in 2010)
• A revised Part I exam – now the Initial Test of Competence (ITC), which assesses technical competence
• The development of a new final assessment, which will be called the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and will be written for the first time in November 2014. The APC replaces two separate exams (Auditing and Financial Management), which currently serve as the final assessment before qualifying as a CA(SA).

The primary objective of the APC is to assess professional competence developed during CA(SA) academic, professional
and training programmes. While the objective of the final assessment does not differ substantially from the current exam,
there are several changes to the way the assessment will be undertaken.

These changes are:

• The APC will take the form of a single integrated case study based on a real-life scenario
• It will also be an integrated multidisciplinary case study, which will cover a broad range of competency areas
• All candidates will be examined on the same case study, irrespective of their individual training contracts
• Contextual material will be pre-released to all candidates five days before the assessment is to be written to allow candidates to undertake appropriate research and refresh the relevant technical knowledge related to the scenarioprovided. The information provided should not enable the candidates to predict with any degree of reliability what will actually be required on the day of the assessment
• Additional information and the required tasks will be provided to the candidates on the day
• Candidates will be assessed based on their competence.

The above changes have been made to emulate accountancy practice in the real world and assess the professional competence of aspiring CAs(SA), such as their ability to apply important skills such as problem solving, judgement, research and communication, to a real life case study.

The purpose of the APC is not to re-assess all technical knowledge at the same level as in the ITC, but aims to assess the candidate’s ability to apply technical knowledge and skills in demonstrating that he/she can assimilate information, differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information, identify and solve problems – all in an effectively communicated manner.

This approach will more accurately assess the competencies that candidate CAs(SA) have gained through practice in the
workplace during their training contracts. Qualifying through the APC will ensure that CAs(SA) remain relevant and continue to be sought after for their skills and insight.

For further information please refer to www.saica.com or contact apc@saica.co.za

Author: Helen Bimbassis CA(SA) is Project Director: Education at SAICA.