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SAIPA to pioneer new state of accountancy

The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) intends to fundamentally re-imagine the way the accountancy profession is perceived, developed and utilised.

This was announced at an online media briefing presented by Shahied Daniels, the Institute’s Chief Executive, on Thursday, 3 September.

“We have begun thinking differently about what accountancy is and needs to be in a world marked by advanced technological capabilities and extreme socio-economic conditions,” he said.

Daniels outlined how SAIPA will approach these requirements.

Ethics
Daniels said that in the 18 years since the Arthur Andersen and Enron incident, and in the wake of other major accounting scandals since, the profession has come under increasing public scrutiny. Accountants are expected to be ethical flag bearers, by providing quality information used to make business decisions which impacts the socio-economic well-being of people, and SAIPA’s objective is to regain the public trust.

“Adding additional regulations to existing regulations has proven ineffective, because regulations seldom change behaviour which drives ethical and professional conduct” he said. Rather, it is critical that ethics is continuously reinforced through regular training, awareness and professional bodies holding their members accountable.

SAIPA has therefore made ethics a compulsory part of its continuous professional development (CPD) programmes, aligning with SAQA’s current professional accreditation criteria. In addition, SAIPA members must now confirm their commitment to ethical conduct by signing an annual pledge.

4IR
SAIPA acknowledges that the accountancy profession is being radically re-imagined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and plans to prepare its members accordingly.

“SAIPA will ensure its members rapidly transition from merely performing mechanical and repetitive tasks to become value creators and to be seen as trusted strategic business advisors by their clients and employers,” said Daniels

SAIPA’s premier designation, Professional Accountant (SA), will become a fusion of human competencies and digital capabilities to facilitate effective and ethical decision-making, he said. It would also expand into auxiliary services that extract greater value from accounting data.

This means they must acquire new skillsets, such as digital proficiency, data literacy, critical thinking, and strategic assessment of business development initiatives.

SAIPA’s response
To improve secondary and tertiary accountancy education, SAIPA is developing an educational roadmap and curriculum that embraces data science, data analytics and digital proficiency as essential competencies for the profession.

SAIPA has also grown its National Accounting and Maths Olympiad competition to encourage school leavers to shift their focus from memorisation to cognitive development.

Further, the Institute has established a Centre of Future Excellence (CoFE) to ensure its competency framework aligns with an increasingly digital world, both in and beyond 4IR.

Small-to-medium accounting practices often build value by collaborating with non-accountants. To assist them, SAIPA has established the Centre of Business Advisory (CoBA) where non-accountants who meet its professional requirements can become affiliate members.

According to Daniels, the Institute’s long-running Project Achiever programme, which prepares candidates for its Professional Evaluation, and is funded by the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset), has received much attention for its lasting effects on broader proficiencies and soft skills.

Conclusion
Daniels said SAIPA’s initiatives are critical to ensuring the profession is prepared for a digital-driven future.

“They will also enable it to evolve its value proposition and service offerings for demands in business and society by creating value,” he said.

The date of the briefing was significant in that it marks the 14th anniversary of the Institute’s historic name change to depict the role SAIPA has been fulfilling in the profession over the past 38 years.