Back in the day, when the scientific calculator just launched in South Africa, there was a very set path to becoming a CA(SA): to work at an auditing company. And more likely than not, at one of the Big 4 auditing firms. But our world and profession have evolved over the past two decades.
Even the ‘Big 4’, as we know them, has pivoted their business models to diversify revenues and prioritise offering services outside auditing and assurance. For instance, Deloitte Global’s audit and assurance division only contributed 19,2% of its nearly $60 billion in revenue for the 2022 financial period. Their consulting division is more than double that at 43,5% or $25,8 billion and was the fastest growing of all divisions.
So, if you’re an aspiring or qualified CA(SA), what is the ideal path in articles and beyond?
In today’s fast-changing business world, there is no longer an ideal career path like in the 2000s. Professionals must be more agile and adaptable rather than confining themselves to a single career box. For instance, when it comes to CA(SA) articles, the old paradigm of only working at the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms or banks has shifted to where they are one of many options available.
This paradigm shift is mutually beneficial. Businesses that create an article programme gain access to a new pool of previously unavailable talent. Aspiring CAs(SA) gain access to various companies across most industries, such as retailers, manufacturers, producers, and more.
For example, my CA(SA) path differed from the traditional one around 2014. I signed up to work at Deloitte during varsity and was fortunate to complete my first year of academic articles at the University of Cape Town. During this period, I took an opportunity to work at Pick n Pay to complete my remaining period of articles.
The main reason for doing so was to gain a broader business experience; retailing represents the fundamentals no matter how technologically advanced we become. At that time, I also had a personal business which motivated me to seek a more varied experience.
While working at Pick n Pay, I still got to engage with the external auditors as a member of the financial reporting team. Additionally, I rotated across different departments and teams, including financial management, buying, store operations, the launch of the convenience foods division, food manufacturing, and logistics.
If you’re an aspiring CA(SA), I encourage you to research the companies offering article programmes. You can view this on the SAICA website or search on LinkedIn by identifying the training officers in charge of the programme at their employer. In the search bar, input ‘Training officer’ and search, then select the ‘People’ filter, select ‘All filters’, and input ‘CA(SA)’ in the ‘Last name’ field. Scroll through the people and identify the companies they work at.
No set path
There is no longer a set career path for aspiring or qualified CAs(SA) as was the case two decades ago with the ‘Big 4’.
This shift is mutually beneficial, as companies that create article programmes gain access to a new pool of previously unavailable talent, and aspiring CAs(SA) gain a broader business experience.
The future CA(SA) will no longer be working in a one-size-fits-all profession. Those who choose to create their own path will be a step above the rest − we already see it at play.
GRANT GREEFF CA(SA)
Director at SearchKings™ Africa