Earlier this year, the SAICA Board and national structures identified key goals and focus areas for the next five to ten years. Our long-term vision is to develop leaders for business, government and communities; a vision underpinned by the three pillars built into the SAICA strategy – value, volume, and stakeholder management.

Value means increased value of SAICA service offerings to our members and trainees. Service offerings range from SAICA’s extensive initiatives to promote the CA(SA) designation to demonstrating to our members and trainees that there is longer term value to being a member of the Institute by the effective provision of various services and products. Services that SAICA offer must enable members to grow their businesses and/or enable members to advance their careers.

Value also means being able to build and maintain a consistent service delivery platform to our members. Organisations need to get the simple things right. For example, we should instantly be in a position to process payment of a subscription invoice or to respond instantly to a telephone query from a member. That’s part of a solid infrastructure; one that talks for and to the whole organisation. SAICA has invested heavily in its infrastructure, including the delivery of a contact centre and a world-class website and, based on member input, will continue so to invest.

Being a member-based organisation, we understand that we operate in a world of rapid change. It is an environment in which SAICA is obliged rapidly to meet the country’s needs. Through the expertise of our people, we aim to generate ground-breaking innovation through thought leadership initiatives, thereby reshaping the profession by taking the lead and influencing agendas, policies and legislation – both nationally and internationally – affecting the profession and our members.

Services to members include actively branding the designation to empower members to command a premium in the market, and to advance their careers a lot more quickly than would otherwise have been possible. Furthermore, continuing professional development is crucial for our members to remain relevant in business and enhance their marketability or their sustainable premium-income-earning potential. Another key element of value lies in maintaining and enhancing the quality of our education and training model, because ultimately that is what has kept our brand as strong as it is.

Volume, our second pillar, SAICA strives to broaden the base of accountants available to the economy – note, accountants and not just chartered accountants. Thus, SAICA recently took a quantum thought leadership leap by commissioning research to determine the magnitude of the skills shortage in the profession, with a view to establishing effective intervention strategies. We are one of the few professions to have taken this initiative and not complained about what government has not done about the skills shortage. We have actively got the funding needed, established projects such as Thuthuka, and we have made it happen.

Stakeholder Management, implying a broader canvas than simply serving our members, is core to our business. It could be people in commerce and industry, large listed organisations and even government. For example, we proactively get involved with SARS to enable both SARS and the end user to understand better the relevant problem issues and then attempt, on a collaborative basis, to resolve them. Ultimately, we want to create a holistic approach to the development of relevant products based on extensive research, and so delight our members and key stakeholders. Not everyone is aware of how best to adapt change to their advantage. To remain a top performer in a randomly changing environment is becoming more of a challenge.

There are nine key strategic issues facing SAICA and the profession:
1. creating more awareness of the CA(SA) brand;
2. developing a strategy that will address specific value propositions per member segment;
3. transforming and growing the pipeline numbers;
4. the relevance of the curriculum, training future CAs(SA); understanding the needs of specific stakeholders, and serving their demands;
5. developing thought leadership capability, and meticulously researching identified topics;
6. bolstering an integrated and holistic communication approach with members, employees and media;
7. effective stakeholder relationship management;
8. ensuring that the profession becomes Pan-African, and
9. effectiveness of governance structures in ensuring valuable decision making.

As one of the world’s leading Institutes, we consider the above-listed strategies as vital to our long-term success. We are determined to embrace them as a means of delighting our members and stakeholders. The institute must be robust, dynamic and flexible, implying that we can restructure and reorganise quickly if we need to respond to changing market conditions or member needs. SAICA should be able to deal seamlessly with issues as and when they arise. With a view to achieving organisational sustainability, SAICA has gone to great lengths to develop delivery structures, among them a project management office and a balanced scorecard to drive outputs and measure them more frequently. The idea is to make things visible to our employees, the management team and the Board – to facilitate active management and drive issues, thereby enabling them to play a much more strategic role in the organisation rather than only dealing with day-to-day operational issues.

As always, we all urge you, our members, to use established structures within SAICA. These structures are there to serve the profession and you, our members. Only through active engagement can we realise our objectives and help the profession retain its standing as the leading business designation in Africa.

Nazeer Wadee CA(SA), is Chief Operations Officer, SAICA.