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SPECIAL FEATURE: Transformation Report

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Transformation: An industry snapshot

It’s been 21 years since the birth of our democracy. As we mark National Women’s Day in August, how much cause do we have to celebrate the advancement of women in accounting? By Monique Verduyn

In 2014 the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) was recognised by the World Bank for its efforts to transform the profession through its Thuthuka bursary programme, as well as for upholding high standards in accounting and financial reporting in South Africa.

The World Bank’s report on South Africa’s regulatory system commended the bursary programme as a ‘world first’. Titled Coverage of Standards and Codes: Accounting and Auditing, the report said SAICA had ‘taken decisive steps to transform the profession. The black membership of professional accountancy organisations has increased during the past ten years with the implementation of the Thuthuka programme.

‘Universities are actively increasing their number of black students by participating in the Thuthuka initiative, and by allowing entrance into extended programmes for black students who do not fully meet the admission requirements,’ the report stated.

Indeed, from 1994 to 2007, total student enrolment in higher education had grown from 425 000 students to 761 000 students, with the proportion of Africans growing from 43% in 1998 to 67% in 2007. In 2014, 40,7% of CTA students were black, and more than half of those were female.

‘The gender and racial demographics for Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) students have changed dramatically over the past nine years,’ the report said. ‘In 2003 the number of female CTA students as a percentage of total enrolment was approximately 28% and increased to 50% in 2011. Black students comprised 25,8% of total CTA enrolment in 2003, compared to 38,8% in 2011.’

Chantyl Mulder, executive director nation-building at SAICA, is passionate about the work SAICA is doing to transform the profession through the Thuthuka Bursary Fund. ‘The programme is dependent on the partnerships we have with universities, but its success is also driven by the fact that CAs(SA) are actively involved in promoting the accounting profession,’ she says.

‘I believe that nation-building can be vastly enhanced if we increase the number of CAs(SA) in the country. There is a great need for more CAs(SA) at government level as this would help to professionalise the public sector. CAs(SA) are bound by a code of ethics that includes dedication, accountability, diligence, professionalism and integrity. We need to build these types of leaders, who are not only successful, but also add value to society as a whole.’

THE PROGRESS OF WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA’S TOP ACCOUNTING FIRMS

While The Black Management Forum and the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (ABASA) have expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of transformation in the accountancy profession, there seems little doubt that big strides have been made.

The country has certainly come a long way since Nonkululeko Gobodo, one of the original founders of SizweNtsalubaGobodo, became the first black female CA(SA) in the 1980s. Today, SizweNtsalubaGobodo is the largest black-owned accounting firm in southern Africa and was recently recognised by Abasa as the firm with the highest number of successful black accounting candidates amongst black professional services firms in Gauteng for the 2014 Qualifying Examinations. The firm’s management is just under 40% female, with 18% female representation at board level.

‘We are delighted that the investment we continue making into our people is showing positive results,’ says Victor Sekese, CEO of SizweNtsalubaGobodo. ‘It is our intention that we continue to successfully change the face of the accounting profession in the country, as our founding members set out to do three decades ago.’

However, women, particularly black women, remain under-represented in the profession, says Lindani Dhlamini, CEO of SekelaXabiso, the second-largest black-managed auditing and accounting company.

‘For us, transformation and the empowerment of women are business imperatives,’ says Dhlamini. ‘We pride ourselves on being a black-owned organisation that has predominantly black staff. Our Level 1 BEE status bears testimony to our commitment to transformation. It is company policy that there should be at least 50% female representation at all levels in our firm and we have successfully achieved this. We have also made progress in achieving equal representation of males and females at all levels in the business. Our board of directors has seven members, four of whom are female. Of our 13 directors, six are women.’

SekelaXabiso supports several transformation initiatives. Internally, the firm’s Imbokodo Women’s Forum develops, supports and encourages up-and-coming female leaders. For a number of years the firm has supported SAICA’s Thuthuka programme, and is also a supporter of AWCA.

COMMITMENT TO TRANSFORMATION IN THE PROFESSION

At Grant Thornton, 32% of senior management positions are held by female executives and 54% of its employees are female. ‘The increasing number of females entering the profession can clearly be seen in Grant Thornton’s annual intake of trainee accountants which is now dominated by women nationwide,’says Lee-Anne Bac, director advisory services at Grant Thornton. ‘The accounting profession has become an attractive choice for females and it bodes well for creating opportunities for women in leadership positions. The CA(SA) qualification has proved to be a good choice for potential CEOs, FDs and most certainly for future audit partners.’

Grant Thornton contributes to the implementation and improvement of all seven elements of the B-BBEE scorecard. The firm has in place an active learnership programme and provides financial assistance, by means of bursaries, to students who are studying towards becoming CAs(SA). The firm is also involved in an enterprise development initiative through SAICA, and gives money and time to a broad range of recognised socio-economic development initiatives.

Contributing towards transformation of the profession forms an integral part of Grant Thornton’s growth strategy to 2018. The firm is committed to the upliftment and empowerment of previously disadvantaged individuals and the transformation process in the firm and ultimately the profession. ‘Our recent merger with TIS/Fintis and Rebahale, two black-owned professional services firms, demonstrates our commitment to black economic empowerment and to transforming Grant Thornton into a truly South African firm with black representation in leadership and ownership,’ says Bac.

Grant Thornton has committed to working with the Thuthuka fund for years to come, to help alleviate the skills shortage in our country, and particularly in the professional services industry. The firm also supports 40 bursary students across the four years of the CA(SA) qualification.

‘Contributing towards transformation of the profession forms an integral part of Grant Thornton’s growth strategy to 2018,’ says Bac. ‘We are committed to the upliftment and empowerment of previously disadvantaged individuals. We plan to continue to recruit as many female accountants as possible.’

CHALLENGES TO BE CONFRONTED

Considering the rate at which the profession is transforming, says Justine Mazzocco, Africa talent & transformation managing partner, Deloitte, it’s not doing too badly, but there remain challenges that need to be overcome.

‘SAICA statistics from more than a year ago indicate that while the number of CAs(SA) (auditors) in public practice grew by a relatively small percentage over the last few years, the total number of CAs(SA) in South Africa grew by more than 20%,’ she says. ‘Findings from a 2014 SAICA survey conducted with all JSE-listed companies indicate that the CA(SA) is the most predominant business qualification represented. At CFO or FD level, CAs(SA) constituted 74,3% – and 21% of CEOs and MDs are CAs(SA). In addition, the survey indicated that while on average CAs(SA) make up 23,8% of the directors, there is a higher percentage of CAs(SA) among female directors (28%) than among males (22%). This, coupled with the fact that slightly more female CAs(SA) than male CAs(SA) are produced every year, is indicative of a profession that is transforming at a healthy pace.’

The challenge, says Mazzocco, is to continue on this growth trajectory. The current profile of the profession in terms of race and gender still has a long way to go and there is still much work to be done.

‘Organisations and companies that are in public practice and, in particular, the larger professional services firms, contribute significantly to this growth rate. The profession is a holistic developer and contributor of CAs(SA) to the economy as a whole. Of course, while we may not be able to retain all the CAs(SA) in the profession for a variety of reasons, we are certainly transforming the landscape in South Africa.’

Deloitte Africa admitted new partners and directors in June, half of whom were women, bumping up the level of female ownership to 27%. Mazzocco says the advancement of women into senior leadership positions remains a priority for the firm and its goal is to achieve at least 40% female ownership by 2020.

‘There is an explicit link between a company’s bottom line and the return an empowered and diverse talent pool can offer,’ Mazzocco stresses. ‘Research has shown that companies that have women well-represented at senior levels in the organisation, perform better than those who do not. This builds the case that women make a significant and invaluable contribution at the leadership table – provided that they get to the table.’

Findings from Deloitte’s recent survey Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective indicate that South Africa is making headway in appointing females to chair boards and ranks fourth highest in the world. Italy at 22,2% and Norway at 18,2% take the two top spots, and South Africa’s 7,8% female-held board appointments is just behind third-placed Austria, where 9,1% of board chairs are women.

‘This is an important achievement, as the global average is only 4% for board chairs and we are also above the 5% average for the Europe, Middle East and Africa grouping,’ says Mazzocco. ‘There is still a long way to go, but we are making progress we can be proud of. South Africa, at 17,5%, is in ninth place for the percentage of total board seats occupied by women. The countries ahead of South Africa are all European.’

As the averages in the survey show, the world is still a long way from closing the traditional gender gaps. But it tells a story of how South Africa is encouraging change and striving for diversity.

‘Gender diversity is a business imperative,’ Mazzocco says. ‘Different perspectives can result in less risky and enhanced decision-making, and a better representation of stakeholders’ interests. There is no doubt that a gender diverse team produces a better result. CEOs need to use the same motivational techniques to promote gender diversity in top positions as they do to promote any other elements that make their business successful.’

IMPROVING EDUCATION TO GROW THE NUMBERS

One of the key challenges to transforming the profession is education. ‘If we grant our children access to a quality education from the first day they enter school, we will not only ensure that more of them reach matric level, but we will also provide more of them with an opportunity to pursue tertiary education,’ says Mazzocco. ‘There should be a specific focus on maths and literacy throughout the learner’s school career, as these two competencies form the foundation for ongoing learning, particularly for those who wish to pursue a career in chartered accountancy.’

Financial investment in education is one way to do this, but funding needs to be optimally utilised. Deloitte has a long history of partnering with organisations who are involved in the socio-economic upliftment of communities.

Some examples include the longstanding partnership between LEAP and Deloitte, where the firm provides financial and non-financial support to the school. The Sci-Bono Satellite Mathematics Project is another example. It involves delivering high-quality maths teaching to learners at priority schools serving disadvantaged communities. Deloitte committed to providing financial support to this project, which provides schools with access to additional, high-quality maths teaching.

In its simplest form, Teach South Africa’s goal is to help alleviate poverty and provide the economy with much needed skills by recruiting and deploying exceptional university graduates into positions as effective and inspirational teachers and leaders.

Deloitte has made progress towards achieving its transformation target which is to be 51% black owned by 2020. The firm currently has 60% black representation at board level and 55% black representation on its executive committee. In 2004, 16% of its partners were black. This has increased to 32% in 2015.

‘Deloitte has always been committed to a skilled and transformed South African CA(SA) workforce,’ says Mazzocco. ‘Over the last 13 years, we have contributed 21% of the African black CAs(SA) in the market. Our strategy is focused on organic growth, building a strong pipeline of graduates, using targeted programmes to attract and retain top black talent, and partnering with various industry bodies that have programmes in place to drive the development of black talent.’

Nana Madikane, PwC diversity and inclusion leader for South Africa, is pleased with the progress being made at PwC: ‘56% of our new intake is female,’ she says. ‘We have a Diversity & Inclusion Board, globally and locally, and our focus is on creating an even more inclusive environment. This is a measured programme and proof of its value is that 50% of the partners admitted to the firm in July were female. On the management committee in South Africa, 33% are female. In Africa, we have female leaders in Rwanda, Kenya and Namibia. Our East Africa practice is also led by a woman, and Shirley Machaba, the chair of PwC’s South Africa governing board, is also a global board member.

WHAT THE FEMALE MILLENNIAL WANTS

PwC recently did a study on the female millennial and how the firm could adapt to ensure that CAs(SA) stay within the profession. ‘Our research shows that when it comes to the female millennial, we really are talking about a new era of talent,’ says Madikane. ‘Female millennials are more highly educated and are entering the workforce in larger numbers than any of their previous generations. But this is not the only thing that has changed. They also enter the workforce with a different career mind-set.

‘The research also dispels some significant myths, for example that women leave work to have families,’ she adds. ‘The female millennial is least likely to have left a former employer because she was starting a family, and most likely to do so due to a lack of career opportunities. Employers must commit to inclusive cultures and talent strategies that lean in to the confidence and ambition of the female millennial from day one of their career.’

A WORKPLACE THAT APPEALS TO ALL

The general consensus when it comes to creating a workplace that respects and values the diversity brought by both women and men, is that that it’s important to offer flexible working arrangements to all employees, to ensure they can meet their personal or family commitments and be productive and happy in the workplace.

Madikane says PwC has flexible working arrangements in place which appeal to both male and female employees. ‘Our focus is on inclusion and ensuring our policies are as gender neutral as possible. We have also implemented mandatory unconscious bias awareness training.’

In addition to offering flexible working arrangements, Deloitte Women in Leadership (DWIL) offers female employees a number of benefits that address personal wellbeing and career aspirations, including a maternity transition programme, mothers’ rooms, work-life integration evets, career planning conversations with senior female leaders, and role model campaigns. The firm is also launching a talent growth programme that creates accountability on the part of business leaders to grow their female talent and make a measurable impact on their career progress.

Grant Thornton offers equal benefits and opportunities to both males and females.  Flexible working solutions are available to all staff. With a large portion of South Africa’s workforce living far from central office locations and with the high level of single-parent families in the country, flexible working hours certainly go a long way to solving some of the challenges women face.

The firm also offers an online health and wellness programme for its staff.  The services include personalised emails, a comprehensive health website, a medical encyclopaedia, monthly health newsletters, and access to a panel of experts. Its Johannesburg office provides a ‘concièrge’ service which assists all employees in tackling personal chores such as dry-cleaning. In addition, the Johannesburg office now offers a subsidised canteen which provides cost-effective meals and can even prepare school lunch-boxes, which makes life easier for working parents.

As a woman-led organisation, SekelaXabiso is cognisant of the additional family demands that are put on women.  ‘Our management style is not focused on managing people but on managing outputs,’ says Dhlamini. ‘Flexible working hours are part of our DNA. Through our Imbokodo Women’s Forum we give additional support to female employees by ensuring that they appropriately mentored and guided to succeed and progress to leadership positions within the firm.’

As Mulder notes, the commitment of the accounting and auditing sector to transforming the demographics of the profession to match the country’s demographic profile is exemplary. ‘The pace of transformation can only be accelerated by driving up the number of young black people who choose to become CAs(SA), and that can only be achieved by creating a more enabling environment at grassroots level.’

 A WORD FROM INDUSTRY BODIES

As the country faces a shortage of accounting professionals, both in the private and public sector, the heat is on to attract more women into a profession that can contribute to a brighter future for all.

There has been a great improvement in the past 13 years in the number of women qualifying as CAs(SA), with the overall number of black (African, Coloured, Indian) women CAs(SA) increasing from 407 in 2002 to 4 249 in June 2015.

‘Women in the profession are doing amazing work to help young, female trainee accountants,’ says Chantyl Mulder, executive director nation-building at SAICA. ‘One of the most important ways to contribute is for successful black CAs(SA) to engage with their communities, and with school governing bodies to spread the word about accounting.’

THE MATHS PROBLEM

The biggest impediment to transformation, however, is the quality of maths education in the country. A recent parliamentary response by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that at least one in four schools around the country does not offer mathematics for Grades 10 to 12. According to these figures from the annual school survey in 2013, the worst statistics were in Mpumalanga, where 56,3% of schools did not offer the subject.

‘In 2014, a total of just 19 000 black learners passed maths,’ says Mulder. ‘What is interesting is that between 30% and 40% of children who pass maths enter the accounting profession. However, while we get the lion’s share, this is by no means enough to meet the severe shortage of accounting skills in the country. This is why interventions are critical, through programmes like Thuthuka and by organisations like African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA), which is doing exceptional work. It’s also important for industry bodies to work together so that we do not duplicate initiatives unnecessarily.’

BEYOND SEVEN-YEAR THINKING

Lesego Sennelo, the president of AWCA, says she encouraged by the progress in transforming the profession, but there is more to be achieved. ‘Black women CAs(SA) make up about 10% of the total number of qualified CAs(SA) in South Africa, which is a long way from reflecting the demographics of the country.’

Tantaswa Fubu, president of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (ABASA), says the pace of transformation must be accelerated. ‘Currently 79% of CAs(SA) come from 10% of the population. We must all concede that we have not done nearly enough.’

For ABASA, she says, it’s not just about the number of new CAs(SA). ‘It’s about growing the numbers of people choosing to stay in the profession and becoming owners, and thus decision-makers. Blacks in total form about 21% of the CA(SA) population, with black African women making up just 4%. We can justify the slow pace of transformation by saying that it takes seven years to make a CA(SA), or we can choose to have a multipronged, dynamic and revolutionary approach to ensure that in each seven-year period, we produce substantially more black CAs(SA) in general, and women in particular.’

ABASA’s set of initiatives starts with school visits and tutoring, and include programmes with student chapters to ensure that people who complete their studies are well rounded and ready to tackle the work environment.

Awca has adopted a three-tier strategy for transformation:

  • Identify and develop young girls who aspire to be CAs(SA)s for entry into universities to pursue a degree that will allow for them to enter into the profession.
  • Nurture and train black women who are completing their articles as well as newly qualified black women CAs(SA).
  • Encourage leadership development for black women CAs(SA) to groom them to hold key decision-making positions in the corporate and public sectors.

AWCA also has a number of initiatives to drive female enrolment.

  • School interventions: Members visit schools to create awareness about the CA(SA) profession and they participate in career days.
  • Bursary fund: The AWCA bursary fund has focussed on funding black women CTA students, as a lack of finance is a key reason why students are not able to complete the qualification requirements. AWCA has funded 68 students since inception.
  • Student chapters: The launch of AWCA student chapters was born out of a power tea held in September 2009 following  which a Rhodes University student launched a chapter to provide support. There are now nine student chapters with more than 1 000 student members.

’One of our key focus areas is to  develop a legion of well-rounded, ethical and dynamic African women CA(SA) leaders who contribute to the economic growth of the country,’ says Sennelo. ‘AWCA will continue to run initiatives that contribute to transformation of the profession.’

She says she is encouraged by the fact that more and more women are being inducted into leadership roles, with accounting firms aiming for female representation of 35% on their executive committees.

Author: Monique Verduyn

 

TROUBLE IS COMING!

So often we forget about an ailment when its symptoms abate, only for it to come back with a vengeance. Are we sure South Africa has been cured of xenophobia, asks Tendai Matore

I write this article in the wake of the recent xenophobia attacks. We call them recent, but xenophobia has been going on for a long time; only the violent outbursts are recent. I hope that the policymakers and public realise that the problem is far from over and will get worse in the short term unless brave and drastic action is taken by all.

What is the problem? The media and the angry man in the street have mentioned criminality and stealing of women by illegal immigrants. Some government officials have jumped on the bandwagon in calling out against these foreigners! The media does not help by specifying the nationalities of criminal immigrants without doing the same for local criminals. This imprints in society’s psyche that all foreigners are bad.

But criminality knows no nationality. Yes, you will find (illegal) immigrants involved in criminality, as you would find local citizens. You will also find South Africans who have emigrated elsewhere involved in criminality, as you are likely to find citizens of any country. We have enough international drug trafficking cases to drive this point.

It cannot be the presence of immigrants, illegal or otherwise, as there are other countries that house greater immigrant populations than South Africa. If this problem is not unique to South Africa, why are the response and reaction so different? What is the problem?

It could be a breakdown in policing and the rule of law. Weak control at the ports of entry allows an influx of illegal immigrants. This may be a starting point but there’s more to the story. What about the legal immigrants? There is ineffective policing in bringing to book the criminal elements that kill, torture or encourage the killing and torture of foreign nationals. Their prison sentences, like those incurred by any violent crime, should be swift, stiff and painful. Not only that, these should be publicised as a deterrent to would-be criminals.

Xenophobia could be ascribed to intolerance within communities – the violent attacks are evidence of this. However, these generally occur in low-income housing areas. One can then posit that the violence is not linked to intolerance but the quality of life of the locals in these communities, coupled with the lack of opportunities and hope to escape their lowly circumstances that manifest in violent attacks on immigrants.

I have noticed at first-hand intolerance at the corporate level too. Large corporate clients terminating immigrants’ contracts as the immigrant pool is deemed too large. This after said companies hired the same immigrants in the first place. This intolerance is made even worse by BEE.

The concept of BEE as an instrument of redress is a good one; it may not be perfect but it is still good. However, BEE should not be but has been seen and utilised as a means of entitlement. It should be seen as conferring responsibility for the improvement and advancement of a people and a country to its participants. It is not an entitlement to riches.

But to look at xenophobia only within the borders of South Africa will not deliver any valuable, comprehensive solution, for this is a wicked problem. Failure by the continent, its leaders, and the people being led to stimulate economic growth, peace and stability will lead to people gravitating to the few economies that offer hope – like South Africa.

So what does the future look like? Grim! Trouble is coming. The socio-economic problems in the country are festering under the surface and will erupt again – more powerfully and more violently. Unemployment rates appear to worsen, and the power crisis will not be addressed in the short term. Given our bureaucracy and inability to build major capital projects on time and within budget, it will take a long time to build additional capacity to drive economic growth. Meanwhile, the water infrastructure is reaching a breaking point and will provide challenges. There is no meaningful progress in economic development and stability north of the border and no real cooperation between governments to improve these either. Prospects are grim if we continue on the same path. We can and need to work extremely hard to improve prospects for the future.

So what needs to be done?

As a start, government needs to tighten control at the ports of entry and improve efficiency at immigration offices in refusing or approving permits.

Criminal elements should be punished swiftly and prohibitively to send a message to the community that people should not take the law into their hands. The government needs innovative and bold ways to discuss and teach communities about tolerance. They have to target the affected areas and not hold indabas at five-star venues or pay a lot of money to celebrities who do not share the plight of the affected communities.

South Africa and Africa as a continent will need to cooperate to stimulate and grow their economies, provide jobs, and improve standards of living.

Expats should understand that when development in their own countries lag behind, South Africa runs the risk of being overwhelmed and deteriorating to the same standard as their countries of origin. Expat communities in South Africa can do more to help and assist local communities and bring a realisation that immigrants do not just take, but can work with and help communities. We should not leave everything to the politicians; even in private enterprise employees are encouraged to take the initiative and not wait for the CEO to act.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate that not every South African is xenophobic, but the silence of the majority and ineffective responses of policymakers allow the criminal few to destroy our society. Government is faced by a lot of other problems that require immediate attention, and it will be foolhardy to think the violent eruptions of xenophobia will not return.

AUTHOR:  Tendai Matore CA(SA) is a director at MatBusiness Consulting

 

NATION-BUILDING

Build national pride using education as a tool, suggests Yuven Gounden

‘Nation-building is the process whereby a society with diverse origins, histories, languages, cultures and religions come together within the boundaries of a sovereign state with a unified constitutional and legal dispensation, a national public education system, an integrated national economy, shared symbols and values, as equals, to work towards eradicating the divisions and injustices of the past; to foster unity; and to promote a countrywide conscious sense of being proudly South African, committed to the country and open to the continent and the world.’

The definition above as enunciated by the Department of Arts and Culture encapsulates broadly what SAICA sees as an ideal in the nation-building unit. The key tenet is ‘empowering the nation through education’.

We have various projects in place that are aimed at having an impact on nation-building. Our members, the CAs(SA, are our superheroes. We call upon them to help us with the essential bricklaying and the creation of strong foundations so that the construction process is seamless, yet effective.

Our superheroes are more than willing to assist in many areas of need. For instance, SAICA saw a need to support school governing bodies (SGBs) to manage their finances better. The Gauteng Department of Education’s SGB project in Gauteng, in partnership with SAICA, which commenced in 2014, aims to ensure that schools adhere to proper financial management and governance that will benefit both the learner and the community at large in the public schools in Gauteng province. There were 15 schools in the pilot phase, and an additional 40 schools will be included in 2015. Our CAs(SA) were willing to assist SGBs with budgeting, investing, financial statements and training on the South African School Administration and Management System (SASAMS).

In order to fill the gap as far as technical skills are concerned, the Minister of Higher Education and Training did his best to promote the avenue of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. SAICA members once again offered their services to assist these colleges with managing their dire financial situation. Retired members of SAICA heeded the call to ‘do their magic’ on these colleges and have managed to successfully turn the situation around by using hawk-eyed governance practices and applying strict financial management measures. SAICA also provides a home for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), and the South African chapter [AAT(SA)] is a part of the SAICA structure. AAT(SA) works closely with partners such as Bankseta to provide the country with critical financial skills using TVET colleges as a base.  SAICA as a professional body also hold a broad view of what the desired impact or outcome of the profession should be. If SAICA chooses to focus on the profession solely, the scope for evolution and making a difference will not be discernible. This can lead to stunted growth and members who tend to be ‘robotic’. In order to create strong and responsible leaders within the profession, there is a need to contextualise the status of the country and encourage them to create cutting-edge solutions.

How does SAICA remain relevant to the people of the country? It is no secret that South Africans and debt seem to be synonymous. SAICA is embarking on a project called ‘Street Finance’. We aim to create awareness of matters financial through a suite of guidelines such as personal budgets, saving, debt management, hire purchase and related matters. Of course, our members will provide valuable input to such a project.

It is also clear that Members of Parliament (MPs) require deeper knowledge of financial matters so that their debates and discussions will be better informed. Plans are afoot to familiarise MPs with financial statements and help them become au fait with financial matters – not only to stimulate robust debate in Parliament, but also where it really counts: improving the quality of lives of South Africans!

In order for the country to rid itself of the culture of protests – especially service delivery protests – it is clear that more work needs to be done at municipal level. People who enjoy a good quality of life are more productive people. It was with this in mind that SAICA commenced work on building capacity among CFOs at municipalities. Unqualified audits in municipalities would indicate that there was judicious and responsible use of funds, which should translate into better service provision.

We at SAICA also think of unfortunate children such as those in orphanages. What happens to them once they complete their schooling? What career guidance services can they access? SAICA supports the Department of Social Development to assist youngsters from orphanages with career guidance, access to bursaries and funding, and other such initiatives.

Parents are an essential component within the education machinery. We partnered with the Eastern Cape Department of Education and invited parents to a career seminar. The purpose of the initiative is to get parents involved in the subject choices and career paths that are available to their children. The focus will be on studying core mathematics as opposed to mathematics literacy.

One of the pillars of SAICA is responsible leadership, and we intend harvesting strong and responsible leaders continually. It is clear that SAICA, with the support and dedication of its members, will make a marked difference to South Africa. Equipping people with the requisite skills, especially skills relating to good governance and responsible financial management, is bound to have an impact on the fabric of our society. I must thank the Institute and its valued members for supporting the SAICA nation-building initiative. Contribute to nation-building. Create a brighter future for all!

In the ensuing weeks, we shall unpack some of these key projects and give you an insight into the impact these projects have on the beneficiaries.

AUTHOR: Yuven Gounden is Project Manager: Communication and Marketing at SAICA

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