SAICA has published the results of the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) – in many ways the most gruelling assessment of an aspiring chartered account’s life.
I wish to congratulate the class of 2019 for their achievement and all our members and partners who played a vital role in this regard. Of the 3 560 candidates who took the assessment, 2 024 demonstrated the required competence.
I would also like to commend those who have been working to evolve how we assess chartered accountants (CAs(SA)) and ensure that the high-quality candidates are being challenged to demonstrate their grasp of complexity and strategic analysis. The APC has increased in difficulty as the public expectation of the role of auditors has increased. In some instance, the audit profession is the last line of defence and we have the responsibility to close this expectation gap if South Africa is to regain the confidence in its capital markets and the integrity of our financial services industry. We play a vital role in society, helping to provide guidance and assurance that precious national resources are being allocated as responsibly and as strategically as possible to contribute to national wealth creation and economic growth.
SAICA and CAs(SA) have had an outstanding impact on business leadership in South Africa. Our leadership in corporate South Africa is unparalleled and we should be proud of the role we have created in contributing to one of the most respected and attractive capital markets in the world, one whose contribution to GDP is disproportionate to the global average and is ever more vital at a time of difficult macro-trends.
However, corporate South Africa has been tainted by a string of high-profile governance and financial failures. These failures have been strongly linked with our industry either through corporate leaders who come from within our ranks or through the auditing profession, again made up of colleagues and members. The danger here is the consolidated view that not only is the profession failing to do more to prevent corporate maladministration − it may itself be responsible. It is the kind of environment that leads to overreach and could threaten SAICA’s regulatory role of the CA(SA) designation. That is the challenge we need to meet and that our future CAs(SA) need to rise to.
It is vital to defend a designation that is the most trusted by business and has demonstrably delivered the best business leaders in the country. To ensure this going forward, we need to redouble our efforts at ensuring that we are relevant to current challenges and threats and to the reasonable demands of critical stakeholders.
We need to transform and evolve to meet broader society’s needs and trust requirements as we consolidate and double down our efforts to be rigorous in a world of growing complexity.
We believe that governance should be a mind-set grounded by a sense of greater purpose, accountability and transparency and we are ingraining this into our CAs(SA). Our APC has responded to the obvious gap in corporate governance with an increased focus on the issues of ethics, communication, critical thinking and pervasive skills. It is no longer enough to simply know the financials; candidates must demonstrate ethical leadership.
Ethical leadership is premised on the presence of diverse views. SAICA is very proud of the increase from 3% to 25% in our African membership under the age of 35 since 2002. Of course, we have a long way to go but strides in transformation and skills development should not be overshadowed by the length of the journey ahead of us.
We are working on regaining our number one ranking for the strength of auditing and reporting standards by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. We are making the necessary changes and I believe we are well on our way to becoming a beacon of international best practice once more. It is time for the industry to reclaim its position as the stronghold of integrity and the guardians of good practice in society.
AUTHOR | Tsakani Maluleka, Chairman of the SAICA Board