Championing Inclusivity and Success: Lynné Smit's Inspiring Journey in South Africa's Accountancy Landscape
In the intricate web of South Africa’s social and economic fabric, professional accountants aren’t just number crunchers in the shadows. They’re trusted partners who breathe value into organisations, helping small businesses thrive. Meet Lynné Smit, SAIPA’s vice-chairperson, a Professional Accountant (SA), and Professional Tax Practitioner (SA). Her mission in the world of accountancy? To mentor young talents and guide start-up businesses towards success. Her journey as a disabled woman in the profession, marked by resilience and a commitment to inclusivity, inspires those with disabilities and anyone aiming to break barriers in this evolving field.
“I am passionate about how the profession can better serve businesses and South Africa at large. One of my dreams is for professional accountants to become more involved not only with mentoring and supporting youth to enter the accountancy field, but also small businesses starting up, who don’t have the knowledge or experience. We need them to grow the economy and we can play a big part in helping them to do this,” says Smit.
Her involvement with voluntary work as District Chair of the Hexriver District, and the part she has played in the Western Region Committee, speak volumes to this. Being disabled and in a wheelchair, Smit also hopes to be a role model for others with disabilities or those who are marginalised in the profession.
Having faced and overcome several challenges since entering the accountancy field in 1982, including navigating it as a young disabled woman at a time it was widely considered a ‘boy’s club’ , Smit is determined to support the development of a more inclusive, diverse and equitable professional environment for all accountants.
“It makes me proud to think that there are more women in accountancy today than ever before. Women are serving on boards like SAIPA and are acknowledged worldwide in structures serving the accountancy profession,” she says.
Smit is equally passionate about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and says that continuous learning is the key to boosting the collective expertise of all accountants. Not only does this ensure that accountancy professionals are contributing value to their clients that is relevant and meaningful in an increasingly digital era, but it also allows members who are more senior in the field to remain informed and knowledgeable about their field.
In line with her own love of learning new things, Smit has also enrolled with the Institute of Directors in South Africa (The IoDSA), through which she is currently completing her Director certification.
Her advice to others in the profession, as well as young people who are entering the field of accountancy, is to live every day like it’s your last. “I ended up in hospital in 2015 for 28 days, and I realised that life is about more than your job.”
She advocates for improved mental health support in accountancy that encourages professionals to do away with the outdated ideas of working until you burn out. “The Professional Accountant (SA) is a globally recognised designation for a reason. It doesn’t just speak to the body’s standing as an accountancy authority internationally, but the fact that members are encouraged to see life outside of accountancy in the stereotypical sense, and to prioritise their mental health and wellness through support structures that exist for our members,” Smit concludes.