Why CAs are good for SA

A recent article by Ewald Muller indicates why South Africa wins with its chartered accountants.

He writes: “A career in chartered accountancy certainly isn’t for everyone. It generally takes at least four years of academic study at South Africa’s top universities and another three years of practical training, simultaneous study and passing not one but two of the toughest professional exams in any business, anywhere. But to be the best in the world takes that sort of sacrifice, discipline and yes, talent.

In his July 19 polemic entitled “Why CAs are bad for SA” about the chartered accountancy profession, Moneyweb columnist Shawn Hagedorn rightly noted that “accounting is closely tied to finance and finance to economics”. Here it is fair to note that the standards of South African chartered accountancy played a critical role in helping protect our banking and financial system from the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We, as a collective and we stand together with our regulators here, DID NOT allow speculative and wildly creative valuations of derivative assets to get on to the books of our companies, or of our banks. For us the point is not to conceal risk and book phantom profits – it is to understand risk and to manage it well. This requires applying broad business principles not box-ticking accounting rules.

No South African banks failed nor did they require taxpayers to bail them out. The same can not be said of other markets such as the United States with its more adventurous valuations – often instigated by US business school graduates.

In South Africa chartered accountancy training is based on a broad competency model which requires a focus on business strategy, ethics, governance, communication and other non accountancy based disciplines which are not rules based. Of course we also insist on a deep understanding of current International financial Reporting Standards – accountancy standards which are actually principles based rather than rules based.”

Read more on moneyweb.co.za

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