Independent research released this week clearly reveals that the Chartered Accountancy designation in South Africa [CA(SA)] is the most sought-after business designation – by a considerable margin.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) commissioned two independent research exercises to:
• Analyse the appointments pages carried in South Africa’s most widely-read specialist business media with a view to establishing what percentage of the job advertisements were for CAs(SA).
• Investigate the designations of all the directors of the top 200 JSE listings, ranked by market capitalisation.
In the former instance, appointments advertisements during February 2007 a weekly financial publication and a daily business newspaper revealed an overwhelming preference for South African CAs(SA).Hence, for all jobs advertised in the weekly business magazine’s four February issues, a dominant 39% specifically singled out the CA(SA) as a prerequisite.The remarkably high percentage should be viewed in the context that the requirement for much of the 61% balance was for people, like engineers or academics, not directly related to the business environment.
The comparable statistics by the daily business newspaper produced a figure of 17,5%, a number that tends to reflect the fact that the weekly business publication devotes a greater proportion of its pages to business matters than does the daily business newspaper.
Predictably, the remuneration packages offered to CAs(SA) are considerably higher than the averages, with such packages ranging from R200 000 for recent graduates to R1-million-plus for those with track records. Of the 2 227 directors serving on the boards of the JSE’s top 200, a mammoth 662, or 30%, are CAs(SA). MBAs are a distant second on 252, though, interestingly, several of the CAs(SA) are also MBAs.
Unsurprisingly, 82% of all the chief financial officers of the JSE’s top 50 are CAs(SA), with 18% of the top 50’s chairmen boasting this elite designation, along with 22% of the top 50’s CEOs. Ignatius Sehoole, SAICA’s executive president, is impressed with the results.
“I have always known that the CA(SA) was a sought-after business designation, but I did not suspect that the survey results would be as overwhelmingly supportive of the designation as they are.” He maintains that the reason the CA(SA) is South Africa’s top business designation is “the quality inherent in the education and training of a CA(SA)”.
He lays great stress on rigour of the qualification process. Specifically:
• CA(SA) education and training is subject to standards that meet, and in many instances exceed, international standards;
• The SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognizes SAICA as the only accounting professional Education and Training Quality Assurer in the country;
• The CA(SA) was the first learnership registered by the Department of Labour through FASSET, the SETA for finance, accounting, consulting and other financial services;
• The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) currently recognises those in possession of a CA(SA) as qualified to conduct the audit function, which is why most of South Africa’s 4 995 auditors are CAs(SA); and
• SAICA is a member of the international Chartered Accountants Group of Executives, whose education standards exceed those of IFAC.
Sehoole believes that chartered accountants’ academic excellence in accounting, auditing, management accounting, finance and tax guarantees a level of technical competence that creates the highest quality technical business background.
“The requirement that prospective CAs(SA) complete a minimum of three years under a SAICA monitored training contract ensures that they receive on-the-ground exposure to a broad and multidisciplinary range of knowledge, skills and experience in business.”
SAICA is the only professional accountancy body that accredits universities as having the attributes necessary to qualify prospective professional accountants to the level of an honours degree in accountancy. It is this accreditation that Sehoole believes guards against any slippage of standards. “In particular, these universities are rigorously monitored to promote quality in the content and delivery of the education programme.”
Additionally, Sehoole draws attention to SAICA’s stringent accreditation of training officers, who must be CAs(SA) as well as high quality assessors.
“In short,” says Sehoole, “the CA(SA) designation is recognised as the pre-eminent business designation – locally and internationally – because quality is built into every step of the prospective CA(SA)’s education and training process.
“Most importantly, CAs(SA) are developed not only for employment but with an emphasis on professional employability. Employers know this, whether overtly or subliminally. The statistics clearly underline this contention.”