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STRAIGHT SHOOTING: Professional Development Update

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Quality is key in the rigorous process of qualifying as a South African Chartered Accountant. All steps in the qualification process from the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees through to the standard setting Part I examination, the training programme and eventual assessment of professional competence are specifically designed to promote and embrace the standards relating to quality that eventually ensure the delivery of a high quality Chartered Accountant.

SAICA, as the professional body responsible for delivering high quality CAs(SA) continuously reviews the qualification philosophy, content and delivery models related to the qualification of the CA(SA) to ensure that Chartered Accountants maintain and enhance their relevance in the market place.

In the current year, SAICA has launched a series of projects that will focus on both pre and post qualification aspects of the qualification process.

Competency framework

In the pre-qualification arena, we are currently refining our competency framework for entry level Charted Accountants. This framework identifies what competencies a Chartered Accountant should demonstrate at point of entry into the profession (i.e. immediately after the completion of the required academic and training programmes and after the successful completion of all SAICA examinations).

Competence can be defined as: “the broad range of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and observable behaviour that together account for the ability to deliver a specified professional service”. Competence also involves adoption of a professional role that values accountability to the public and leadership in professional practice, the public sector, the corporate sector and education.

The volume of material currently covered in university programmes is of concern for us. Whilst recognising the need to balance and reduce the volume of material covered, still we need to ensure that we cover enough “core principles” and at the same time encourage learners to think and apply themselves, ultimately becoming life long learners.

The competency framework will be used to refine the detailed learning content (knowledge and skills) required to be covered, at university and during the practical experience programme.

The competency framework is currently being developed through consultation with business locally (in terms of business’s requirements of entry level Chartered Accountants) and by researching the framework of similar institutes globally. We intend compiling a draft framework, which, through a series of roadshows and other mediums, will be distributed to members for comment before presentation to the SAICA board later this year. I urge all members to participate in reviewing and further developing the framework. Input to this process is not restricted to those members that train prospective CAs(SA), it is for all those that hold the designation proud and who wish to see it remain as the pre-eminent business qualification in the country.

Review of the Chartered Accountant training programme

A complete review of the training programme has also been initiated. Various factors including emerging trends, such as globalisation, and the need to simplify processes related to training and monitoring of trainees, encouraged us to commence the review as early as possible. The review began with extensive research and continues in the form of extensive consultation with our members across the country. The consultation was extremely positive, and solicited members’ views on required content and structural changes to the training programme. We will incorporate many of those suggestions into a document which will be issued to members for comment later this year.

Again, your involvement in the process, regardless of the industry you serve or the function you perform, is critical if we are to continue to ensure that the Chartered Accountant of tomorrow is a balanced individual with the right mix of knowledge and skills to serve our economy adequately. We will be running a series of workshops later this year and encourage members to participate in commenting during those sessions on the proposed revisions to the content and structure of the training programme.

QE1 results

This issue of ASA focuses on Part I of the Qualifying Examination (QE1) results. With the results just having been released, I wish to congratulate and applaud those that have passed the exam. For those that were not successful, I implore you to keep trying. The qualification process was never meant to be easy. For those that remain steady and apply themselves, the rewards are phenomenal.

Post qualification learning activities

I made reference earlier to post qualification learning activities. SAICA has also commenced a process to construct clear learning paths for those individuals that have clear career goals. As an example, an individual wishing to specialise in the public sector arena, although well versed as a Chartered Accountant in IFRS, might not necessarily, at qualification point be as well versed in the intricacies of specific public sector legislation. A structured learning path would provide the knowledge and tools required to function optimally in that space. We are currently researching the career paths that we will initially focus on and will solicit views from members as we progress the process.

The bottom line is that quality is non negotiable and SAICA will continue to uphold its standards when it comes to qualifying
CAs(SA).

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