How transformation can help your business: a chat with SAIPA CEO Bongani Coka

You already know that your business can help move transformation forward through job creation and human capacity development. But do you realise that transformation can also help your business move forward? We talk to Bongani Coka, CEO of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), who will be presenting the amazing results of Project Achiever at the Finance Indaba Africa on 14 October 2016 at 14h30.

"It is important for finance professionals to attend a gathering such as the Finance Indaba, which is the biggest event of this nature," says Bongani. "It exposes them to the latest thinking in the profession as well as to the top thinkers and influencers in our profession."

For many years Bongani led the public entity Productivity SA, listing the introduction of a new business model that drastically reduced dependence on government grants as his proudest achievement. This year he joined SAIPA as its new CEO. We asked him three pertinent questions.

What will you do to make SAIPA the accounting body of choice?

"I will be building on the foundation laid by my predecessor to ensure that our value proposition for our members stand out and that they feel and see the value of being a SAIPA member.

The 5 key actions to make SAIPA an accounting body of choice include:

  1. Repackaging our member benefit package and communicating it clearly to the market
  2. Offering cutting edge CPD seminars that actually empower members -including customized offerings in certain market segments and locations e.g. offering a CPD on in certain districts of the Western region
  3. Supporting our members in practice with the latest interventions in the areas of , among others
    - practice management best practices for the benefit of our members' clients
    - technological advancement and integration for the benefit of our members' clients
    - technical tax advisory services offered by our Centre of Tax Excellence
  4. Empowering our members by celebrating their successes and getting our brand out there so that our members feel proud to be associated with SAIPA
  5. Showcasing the value of top designation -The Professional Accountant (SA) -which is NQF level 8. We want the CFOs, HR decision makers, as well as the recruitment industry to appreciate this more.

What is Project Achiever?

Project Achiever is a proven concept that fast-tracks the career growth of ambitious professional accountants by developing the competencies required. By joining the project, you can tap into a wealth of talent and competencies that you need in your finance team to ensure that the organisation's resources are utilised to maximum benefit through effective allocation to value-creating activities.

Project Achiever is a partnership between SAIPA and the FASSET SETA that we started in 2015. Its primary aim is to support strategic objective of growing and transforming the Accountancy profession. For this reason the programme is primarily targeted at black accountants who want to be well prepared for our Professional Evaluation exam.

How do we achieve our objective with Project Achiever?

We give the qualifying candidates the competitive edge by fast-tracking their Professional Accountant career growth through financial assistance and education-based guidance to ensure they achieve the best results possible.

The SAIPA-Fasset Project Achiever programme includes:

  • competency-based training in all four core subjects of accounting,
  • provides study materials and continuous assessment throughout the programme.

Fasset funds the costs for the Professional Evaluation exam and also subsidize the travel costs for the candidates. SAIPA provides the tuition in the form of Saturday classes for a period of three months either from February to April to prepare for the May PE or from August to October to prepare for the November PE. We also place the successful candidates that may not be employed.

Impact so far?

To date, the Project Achiever programme saw a 91% pass rate in 2015; and 86% for the May 2016 PE exams (February - April 2016). These results make us proud and show us that the project is yielding results. We want to grow the Project and its strength in terms of numbers.

Who qualifies for Project Achiever?

  • Completed BCom or equivalent tertiary qualification; and the practical requirement (three year SAIPA learnership or six years verifiable working experience in a financial environment - Recognition of Prior Learning)
  • Applicants residing in Gauteng; Western Cape or KZN
  • Candidates who have written the SAIPA Professional Evaluation Exam previously and were not successful; or have completed the SAIPA three year learnership programme, but have not written the Professional Evaluations Exam; or candidates whose SAIPA learnership is coming to an end.

How can transformation help a business?

In South Africa, transformation is a business imperative and the BEEE legislation provides a clear guideline and a legal basis for embarking on transformation.

We are playing our part by ensuring that we feed the profession and the business community with competent black accountants who in turn play a significant role in boosting the SA economy. We are therefore responding to the call for growing scarce skills in the economy and accounting is one of them.

We contribute to a diverse workplace which leads to greater productivity. A transformed workplace gain from each employee learning from each other's experiences and applying this new-found knowledge to their work.

Employees from different backgrounds see processes and practices from different perspectives and therefore are able to bring fresh ideas to the table. Morale also leads to higher productivity levels and organisations that are diverse have consistently high levels of morale."