Top International Expert Praises SAS

The adoption of International Standards by the accountancy profession in South Africa has been given an outstanding rating by a top international expert.

And in a further boost for the profession, the Scotland-based accountancy academic, Professor Mark Alison, generously praised the two national bodies responsible for setting and maintaining these standards – the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA).

Alison was in Cape Town last week, to attend a meeting of the International Accounting Educational Standards Board (IAESB), where the primary aim was to set education standards for all the major accounting bodies in the world.

Alison, the current chair of the (IAESB), said: "Both SAICA and SAIPA, the two bodies with which we work in South Africa, are full members of the International Federation of Accountants, and are very heavy contributors to our standard-setting processes.

"We have a process where we consider issues and redraft and revise our standards. That process can often take a long time," he said. "Our role as the standard setter is to set a level that the accountancy bodies throughout the world are expected to meet.

He added: "The international standards that we set are followed by 165 member bodies in 120 countries around the world. SAICA and SAIPA are at the forefront in the adoption of these standards."

Alison stressed that the standards set by the South African accountancy profession, and the educational requirements it has determined are the equivalent and are at a level set by the International Federation of Accountants.

"Indeed, in my own experience, South African standards are above the level of international norms," Alison said. Asked to give his definition of a "professional accountant", Alison explained it in this way: "The two institutes in South Africa have an examination programme that I understand involves students who largely come from a university background, with a degree.

"After sitting professional examinations close to the end of that degree in South Africa, they will then be given the opportunity to gain professional experience. From this emerges a professional accountant", Alison explained; "This is what happens in South Africa – and this is what happens throughout the world."