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People rarely know right away what career they should be in and it takes most people several years to settle into the path they will follow. The list below is a list of some of the scarce and critical skills in the finance and accounting services sector:

•Financial Manager/Chief Financial Officer

What does a person in this occupation do?

Financial managers are responsible for managing and controlling the financial matters of a company. In large organisations they oversee the functions of financial employees appointed to take care of specific aspects of the financial division, but in smaller companies financial managers are responsible for performing most of or all tasks themselves.

Study path:

Most financial managers start their careers as accountants, financial accountants or auditors and only become financial managers after years of experience. An accounting qualification may be augmented by a management qualification such as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA).

Professional bodies:

Professional body membership or registration is not a general prerequisite to become a financial manager. However, certain employers may require their financial managers to be members of professional bodies, for example, some of the large companies appoint only Chartered Accountants (i.e. members of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants - SAICA) as financial managers.

•External Auditor

What does a person in this occupation do?

An external auditor is an independent professional who conducts external audits of companies. An external auditor expresses an opinion on the fair presentation of the companies’ financial statements.

In expressing the opinion an auditor would typically audit the accounting systems, procedures and financial statements of a company, and would evaluate the way in which the company manages corporate funding and financial risk. An auditor would also ensure that a company complies with all the legal requirements of its business and that tax payments are correct and in line with tax legislation and requirements.

Professional designations

Registered Auditor (RA)

Study path:

To become an auditor you must follow a recognised study path of a professional body accredited by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), currently only SAICA is accredited. To qualify you must successfully complete the following programmes:
  • A BCom and Honours in Accounting (e.g.Certificate in the Theory of Accounting accredited by SAICA)
  • A recognised core assessment programme(e.g. SAICA’s Part 1: Initial Test of Competence)
  • A recognised professional development and assessment programme(e.g. SAICA’s 3 year training contract, professional programme and Part 2: Assessment of Professional Competence)
On completion of the above the candidate will then enter into the IRBA’s experiential learning period, this period is called the Audit Development Programme (ADP). The ADP is a minimum of 18 months’ work experience undertaken by a qualified professional accountant in the area of audit and assurance. The ADP develops candidate RAs for the role of engagement partner at entry level to the profession. On successful completion of the ADP the candidate will be eligible to register as an RA

Regulatory bodies:

Auditors must be registered with the IRBA.

•Accountant

What does a person in this occupation do?

An accountant is a qualified professional who applies accounting, mathematical and analytical skills to solve business, taxation, financial and management problems. Accountants use their numerical, analytical, statistical and management skills to maintain reliable accounting and financial systems and to advise businesses on a variety of financial matters. They are involved in all critical business areas such as accounting, strategic business planning, marketing, information technology and financial management.

Study path:

Requirements for all undergraduate programmes in accounting are set by each of the different universities or private training institutions. As a rule, aspirant students require a National Senior Certificate with Matriculation exemption and English and mathematics. Accounting at Grade 12 level is recommended.

Professional bodies:

Professional body membership is not a legal requirement to practice as an accountant.However, the professional designations listed below are linked to membership of the various professional bodies. Some employers may also require professional body membership.

ACCOUNTANT (NO PROFESSIONALDESIGNATION)
Accountants plan and provide systems and services relating to the financial dealings oforganisations and individuals, and advises on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.

Study path:

B degree in Accounting at any South African university or university of technology. National diploma in accounting from any South African university of technology.

CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT

What does a person in this occupation do?

Chartered accountants usually go through various financial documents while noting these transactions for future references. They also use the data for additional responsibilities such as taxation, spending and earning reports. A chartered accountant could also work with the auditor to ensure spending is done according to the law and the organisation’s specifications. Chartered accountants could also create reports that would update the organisation of its financial standing.

Study path:

Undergraduate: BCom Accounting degree at a university that is accredited by SAICA. Post-graduate: Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) or honours qualifications at a university that is accredited by SAICA.

Workplace experience:

The second part of your path towards becoming a Chartered Accountant (South Africa) CA(SA) entails completing a 3 year learnership programme. This is known as a training contract, and one which a trainee accountant enters into with a registered training office.

Professional examinations:

The final two steps to becoming a CA(SA) are passing two Qualifying Examinations, namely the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). Both of these exams are set and administered by SAICA.

Professional bodies:

South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

CHARTERED CERTIFIED ACCOUNTANT
Chartered Certified Accountants work in all fields of business and finance. Some are engaged in public practice work, others work in the private sector and some are employed by government bodies.

Study path:

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offers the Certified Diploma: Accounting and Finance.

Theoretical training:

Theoretical training can be done through an accredited training institution or through distance education.

Workplace experience:

Learners must complete a three year learnership with an accredited workplace.

Professional examinations:

Professional examinations are set by ACCA. All the prescribed subjects have to be passed.

Professional bodies

Association of Chartered certified accountants (ACCA).

MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANT

What does a person in this occupation do?

Management accountants are trusted to guide critical business decisions and drive strong business performance. They combine financial expertise and business acumen to achieve sustainable business success. They understand how the different parts of the business need to come together. A management accountant usually works at providing advice to the management of a company or individual clients on how to interpret financial information to help them make wise financial decisions that will affect the company. The company or individual may have financial goals they want to achieve and therefore need the assistance of a person trained in this branch of accounting. It is a broad field in which there are several different job titles.

Professional designations:

Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

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A National Senior Certificate with matriculation exemption is required to enter an undergraduate programme. Mathematics and English are compulsory subjects while accounting, economics and business economics at Grade 12 level are recommended subjects. However, there are different routes to professional status.

Undergraduate:

  • BCom (Management Accounting) or BAcc
  • degree(3 years) and Hons BCom (Management Accounting) (1 year) at a university or
  • BTech degree in Management Accounting at a University of Technology or
  • Studying towards the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualifications through a private residential or distance education institution.

Professional qualification:

Qualifying examinations through CIMA.

Work Experience:

Three years’ relevant work experience in an appropriate organisation.

Professional bodies:

Professional body membership is not compulsory for a person to work as a management accountant, but to use the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant you must be a member of the CIMA.

PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT (SA)
Professional Accountant performs a wide range of accounting and tax related services and is regarded as the business advisor to the SME (Small Medium Enterprise) offering tailored advice on business challenges and creating opportunities of business success for their clients.

Study path:

A three-year undergraduate degree in accounting from a South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) accredited university.

Workplace experience:

Learners must complete a three-year learnership with a SAIPA accredited workplace.

Professional examinations:

The SAIPA Professional Evaluation (PE) has to be passed.

Professional bodies:

SAIPA

•Internal Auditor

What does a person in this occupation do?

Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organisation’s operations. It helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.

An internal auditor analyses and evaluates all activities, controls and governance processes concerned with the operations of an organisation, reports to executive management on audit findings and submits proposals for improvements.

Study path:

  • B degree in Accounting at any university or university of technology or
  • BTech degree in Internal Auditing at any university of technology.

Professional Qualifications Internal Audit Technician (IAT(SA))

This is the entry-level designation and indicates that an IAT (SA) should be able to perform routine audit tasks, execute audit programmes, prepare work papers and draft audit findings. To achieve this designation the candidate must have completed two years of a relevant degree or diploma, and have at least two years of internal auditing or related experience.

General Internal Auditor (GIA(SA))

This is the next step in the career path. The GIA is a supervisory level designation. Those who have undergone education and training in the knowledge fields of internal auditing, accounting, business management and other related subjects can apply for accreditation. The GIA (SA) must have completed at least a relevant three-year degree or diploma, as well as have a minimum of three years’ experience in internal auditing or a related field.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

The CIA-certificate is an international qualification held in high esteem. Membership of the institute and a relevant three year degree or national diploma is compulsory.

Professional bodies:

Professional body registration or membership is not a prerequisite to practice as an internal auditor. However, to use the IAT(SA) and GIA (SA) designations you have to be a member of the Institute for Internal Auditors of Southern Africa (IIA-SA).

•Company Secretary

What does a person in this occupation do?

Companies secretaries plan, administer and review corporate governance activities and effective practice concerning company board meetings and shareholdings, ensuring all business matters and transactions are managed and implemented as directed by the board. They have a significant role in assisting the board of the organisation to achieve its vision and strategy. There is a shortage of qualified and experienced Company Secretaries, with demand on the increase in light of the new Companies Act (71/2008) and King III.

Study path:

The Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa (CIS or CSSA) professional qualification is a course in a chosen specialised field, whether it be a Company Secretary, Accountant, Accounting Officer, Administrator or Manager. Chartered Secretaries embark on a lifelong career relationship with CSSA.

The final course of study is the CSSA International Qualifying Board Examinations. The CSSA International Qualifying Scheme is a rigorous course. Each qualification along the continuum renders the graduate employable and when accumulated, prepares governance professionals and accounting officers for the intense demands of the role of Chartered Secretary. Once a student passes all the exams they can apply to be a graduate (GradICSA) and then an Associate (ACIS) and finally a Fellow (FCIS). Continuing Professional Development ensures that all governance professionals and accounting officers are able to remain at the forefront of governance issues.

Professional bodies:

Professional body registration or membership is not a prerequisite to practice as a company secretary, however once can register with the CSSA.

•Tax Practitioners and Professionals

What does a person in this occupation do?

Tax practitioners analyse, report and provide advice on taxation issues to organisations or individuals, prepare taxation returns and reports, and handle disputes with taxation authorities. Tax professionals can work in one of three main sectors: in SARS; in commerce or industry; or in private practice. Tax professionals who work in private practice and render tax services for clients for a fee have to register with SARS as Tax Practitioners.

Study Path:

A minimum of a National Senior Certificate with matriculation exemption is required for entry into this study path. There are many pathways that one can follow to become a Tax Professional. All the pathways leading to the occupation Accountant in Practice will also enable you to work as a Tax Professional.

In addition to these one can follow the learning pathways leading to the designations conferred by the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT). The first option is to obtain a Bachelor of Tax Degree. The second option is to obtain a Bachelor of Accounting Degree (or any other relevant Degree such as a law degree or a degree in management accounting), followed by a postgraduate qualification in taxation. In both instances, after three years’ of work experience in tax you can become a member of SAIT with the designation General Tax Practitioner (SA) (if you work in private practice) or General Tax Professional (SA) (if you work in commerce and industry or for SARS).

The third option is to obtain a relevant qualification at NQF level 6 or higher in accounting, taxation or law and then to apply for the Learnership: Tax Professional Level 8. Completion of this learnership also enables you to become a member of SAIT with the designation General Tax Practitioner (SA) (if you work in private practice) or General Tax Professional (SA) (if you work in commerce and industry, or for SARS).

Professional bodies:

Registration with SARS as a Tax Practitioner is dependent on being a member of a relevant professional body. These include accounting professional bodies such as SAICA or SAIPA or ACCA. They also include membership of SAIT or the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA). Tax Professionals have to register with SARS and the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT).

•Financial Markets Practitioner

What does a person in this occupation do?

The occupation of Financial Markets Practitioner includes traders, who invest in securities and various other financial products on behalf of institutional, corporate and private clients, as well as administrative staff such as settlement officers who are responsible for the finalisation of financial markets transactions.

The financial markets consist of the equities market, the bonds market, the money market, the foreign exchange market and the derivatives market.

Financial markets practitioners need to stay abreast with information on securities and market conditions and therefore they continuously analyse individual securities, industries and the economy. They also work with clients and before providing investment advice to clients, they identify the profile and the related investment needs of the clients.

They execute transactions in securities with or on behalf of clients and subsequently conclude or settle transactions and record the transactions in the relevant systems.

Study Path

Entry into the pathway for this occupation starts with an NQF Level 6 qualification in the financial field. This is followed by a learnership that leads to the Occupational Certificate: Financial Markets Practitioner. The learnership consists of a knowledge component (including practical skills) and a workplace component. The knowledge and practical skills components are offered at accredited tertiary institutions as an Advanced Diploma in Financial Markets. The workplace component of the learnership has to be completed at an approved workplace. After completion of these components a final exam that is set by the South African Institute of Stockbrokers (SAIS) has to be written.

People who want to trade on any of the markets also have to write the necessary JSE exams administered by the South African Institute of Financial Markets. In order to obtain the designation ‘Stockbroker’ the stockbroker exams set by SAIS have to be passed.

Professional Body

South African Institute of Stockbrokers (SAIS).

•Financial Planner

What does a person in this occupation do?

Accounting technicians work at all levels of finance, depending on where they are in their careers. Some accounting technicians work as accounts clerks, whilst others go on to become managing directors or finance directors of well-known companies.

Study path:

Entry: Senior Certificate with Mathematics Undergraduate: An Accounting Degree or Diploma at a University of Technology.

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)qualifications are:

Certificate in Accounting - there are no formal entry requirements.
Advanced Certificate in Accounting – students normally start at the Certificate Stage, but entry directly to the Advanced Certificate Stage is permitted provided you can satisfy the Association of Accounting Technicians’ entry requirements.

Diploma in Accounting - students will normally be expected to complete the Certificate and Advanced Certificate stages but entry directly to the Diploma Stage is permitted provided you can satisfy the Association of Accounting Technicians’ entry requirements.

Professional bodies:

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

CERTIFIED ACCOUNTING TECHNICIAN
The ACCA qualification is called Certified Accounting Technician (CAT). In order to become an ACCA-qualified accounting technician you need to complete the practical experience requirement (PER) as well as passing your exams and the professional ethics module.

Professional bodies:

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

•Accounting Technician

What does a person in this occupation do?

Accounting technicians work at all levels of finance, depending on where they are in their careers. Some accounting technicians work as accounts clerks, whilst others go on to become managing directors or finance directors of well-known companies.

Study path:

Entry: Senior Certificate with Mathematics Undergraduate: An Accounting Degree or Diploma at a University of Technology.

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications are:

Certificate in Accounting - there are no formal entry requirements.
Advanced Certificate in Accounting – students normally start at the Certificate Stage, but entry directly to the Advanced Certificate Stage is permitted provided you can satisfy the Association of Accounting Technicians’ entry requirements.
Diploma in Accounting - students will normally be expected to complete the Certificate and Advanced Certificate stages but entry directly to the Diploma Stage is permitted provided you can satisfy the Association of Accounting Technicians’ entry requirements.

Professional bodies:

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

CERTIFIED ACCOUNTING TECHNICIAN
The ACCA qualification is called Certified Accounting Technician (CAT). In order to become an ACCA-qualified accounting technician you need to complete the practical experience requirement (PER) as well as passing your exams and the professional ethics module.

Professional bodies:

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

•Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers compute, classify, and verify numerical data in order to develop and maintain financial records. In smaller organisations bookkeepers handle all aspects of financial transactions. They record debits and credits, compare current and past balance sheets, summarise details of separate ledgers and prepare reports for supervisors and managers. They may also prepare bank deposits and send cash, cheques and other forms of payment to the bank. The increased use of computers has allowed the use of specialised accounting software on personal computers.

Professional designations:

Associate Bookkeeper (Certificate) Fellow bookkeeper (Diploma)

Study path:

A person may become a bookkeeper with a National Senior Certificate with Mathematics and Accounting as subjects. Various private institutions offer certificate and diploma courses in accounting and bookkeeping.

Institute for Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) professional qualifications: Certificate for Registered Bookkeeper (NQF 4) National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting (NQF 5).
These two qualifications are registered as learnerships.

Professional bodies:

Professional body membership or registration is not a requirement to work as a bookkeeper. You may want to become a member of the ICB.

•Financial Clerk

What does a person in this occupation do?

Financial clerks are responsible for providing financial, administrative and clerical services in order to ensure effective, efficient and accurate financial and administrative operations. Financial clerks receive deposits and pay out money in financial institutions, process credit, loan and insurance applications, maintain records of securities transactions and registrations, compile data and undertake statistical and actuarial computations.

Study path:

Entry: National Senior Certificate Many organisations provide in-house training in financial administration. Various private institutions offer certificate and diploma courses in the field.

•Debt Collector

What does a person in this occupation do?

Debt collectors collect payments for overdue accounts, overdue instalments or damage claims on behalf of creditors. They locate and notify customers of delinquent accounts by mail, telephone, or personal visit to solicit payment. Duties include preparing statements to the credit department if a customer fails to respond, initiating repossession proceedings or service disconnection, and keeping records of collection and status of accounts.

Study path:

Entry: Senior Certificate
A person can also enter into a learnership in debt collection with a firm that is accredited by Fasset.

Professional bodies:

Registration with the Council for Debt Collectors is a prerequisite for working as a debt collector. However, there are no academic requirements for this registration.