2008 has indeed been a year of rapid movement and change. From the sub prime crises in the US, the stuttering of financial markets globally to the changes in the local political landscape, we have seen rapid change to which we all have to adapt. Our profession has been no exception – from changes in company law to continued revisions to accounting and auditing standards and continued changes in tax legislation and procedures we, as chartered accountants in every sphere of business life, have had to adapt and meet the ever changing requirements of the market. No doubt, with the shenanigans on the European and US financial markets, questions will again be asked of auditors and financial advisors, no doubt regulation will again be reviewed to close potential loopholes and little doubt that accounting standards will again be re looked at to ensure appropriate recognition of complex financial and related instruments.

In a recent interview, Phil Armstrong (who has just been named “one of the most influential gurus on corporate governance” in the prestigious US-based annual Directorship 100 Listing for 2008) said that “The complexity of the financial market, the complexity of the instruments being used and the astounding magnitude of the current problems necessitate a review of this free market approach and there is a sense of the inevitability that the response of the authorities will see a much greater reliance on government regulation over self-regulation”

Against this backdrop and given the diverse range of areas our members operate in, our job as a membership body tends to be challenging. As your membership body, our strategy is focused on delivering services to you that address your career and personal needs.

The chartered accountant name has been and remains the premier business designation in the country

We will continue to focus on enhancing the CA(SA) brand through a concerted focus on the quality of the education and training that prospective CAs(SA) undertake. The development of the ‘Competency Framework’ is far advanced and will articulate the requirements of an entry level CA(SA) into the profession. The training model review will articulate the training routes most appropriate for delivery of competent chartered accountants. In addition, we will continue to invest in promotion of the chartered accountant brand to both our members and the markets that they serve.

Our members operate in a fast-moving, ever-changing business environment that requires flexibility and appropriate knowledge.

We continue to focus on the delivery of services to members in various constituencies – whether they be members in practice, members in business, or members in academia, etc. Our services strategy focuses on the delivery of high quality content to members in the areas of accounting, auditing, taxation, management accounting, leadership, to name but a few. The new year will herald a number of exciting initiatives geared at delivery of content through a variety of channels, including structured qualifications, our traditional short courses in the form of workshops and seminars and new exciting ventures like e-learning and publications.

We have also taken note of members’ continued requests for networking opportunities and will be delivering a number of these in the new year. We recognise that members operate under phenomenal pressure and require access to structured learning in a time efficient manner that will ensure improved delivery of services to their customers. Our intention is to ensure continued availability of high quality content to members through alternative delivery platforms that will ensure easy, on-tap access as required.

We have invested and continue to invest in the development of our Standards Department. Apart from dealing with technical queries raised by members, our technical area provides input to all legislation and standards on a proactive basis with the objective of providing appropriate advance comment prior to final standards or legislation being issued. We have played and continue to play an active role in issues related to taxation, company law, accounting, auditing and corporate governance.

Our technical area also provides input to the structure and operations of various regulatory and oversight bodies, both locally and globally, and will continue to do so ever more vigorously, especially in light of issues currently surrounding markets and the operation of those markets.

As professional business people, our business and individual success is inextricably tied into the developmental objectives of the country.

SAICA, with the continued support of its members, has now established strong enterprise and skills development platforms. These platforms provide opportunities for members to participate actively in the development and delivery of future chartered accountants as well as in the development of business entrepreneurs through helping facilitate the development of business skills. Initiatives like The Hope Factory, the Thuthuka Bursary Fund and the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund were designed specifically to assist with the development of scarce skills that our country so desperately needs. I implore all members to continue to participate actively in these structures.

Markets operate in cycles and at the time of writing this article the global market was experiencing one of its toughest declines yet. It is inevitable that the markets will respond by imposing more legislation and more controls. Professional skills and knowledge will be in ever greater demand making the need for continued knowledge acquisition and professionalism even more acute. As your institute, we look ahead to walking the road with you and to an ever-increasing level of engagement to ensure appropriate identification and delivery against your individual requirements.

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