Transformation of SA Accounting Profession Debated at UKZN Business Breakfast
What strategies can the accounting profession, government, industry and academia implement to transform the profession?
That was the question which stirred debate at a business breakfast meeting hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies.
The breakfast was attended by members of the accounting profession, academics from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, representatives of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and Accounting students who shared views on the theme: “Strategies for Transforming the Accounting Profession”.
The panel for the meeting comprised the CEO of SAICA, Dr Terence Nombembe; the KZN Auditor-General, Mrs Vanuja Maharaj; Chairman of ZICO Limited, Mr Sandile Zungu, and the Executive Director of UKZN Foundation, Mrs Jane Meyerowitz.
During his welcome address, the College’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head, Professor John Mubangizi, said it was an opportune time to hold an event of this nature as this year the spotlight had been more sharply than ever before on transformation in the Higher Education sector.
‘When we talk about strategies to transform the Accounting profession, we are talking about profound and radical changes,’ said Mubangizi. ‘As a College in which the Accounting Discipline is housed, we are concerned about the shortage of Black CAs in our country. We are concerned about our own inability to significantly ameliorate that situation.
‘It is out of that concern that we decided to hold this gathering with the sole purpose of starting a conversation aimed at exploring strategies and initiatives through which we can address the problem,’ he said.
Mubangizi said the College had contributed to UKZN’s strategic goal of transformation through the recruitment of 40 developmental lectures with a view to transforming the equity profile of academic staff. The aim was also to offer bilingual tutorials in some courses in order to enable students to grasp complex concepts in their mother tongue.
“Business, Government and Higher Education working together” was the title of Nombembe’s presentation which highlighted the crucial role SAICA played in transforming the accounting profession. He called on members of the profession and academia to join in this nation building effort by being active in their spaces and making a conscious effort to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.
In her address, Maharaj focused on how as the supreme audit institution of South Africa, her department was doing its part to address challenges to transformation which she defined as the visibility of the accounting profession. Limited supply of qualifying matriculants passing pure maths and government funding were obstacles.
She called for strategies which empower maths teachers who play a critical role in the accounting value chain and to get parents involved as they provide guidance to their children.
Maharaj also called on the academic sector to get involved in research to enhance English reading and writing skills to ensure that students were adequately prepared for the accounting profession.
Speaking from a business perspective, Zungu highlighted issues of collaboration, race and inequality as the main contributors to the slow pace of transformation in the accountancy profession.
Meyerowitz spoke on the importance of student retention and how funding played a huge role in ensuring student success.