Comair CEO cancels SAICA membership from January 2019

Erik Venter cancels SAICA membership until the accountancy institute "gets its house in order".

Following “a societal shift … where rampant consumerism influenced day-to-day thinking to such a point that even in corporate life, executives attempted to outdo one another by developing ever more gauche head offices matched only by executive remuneration packages so excessive in nature that it should have made shareholders weep” audit firms have “forgotten their places as low-risk and low-reward businesses.”

These were the words of Erik Venter, Comair CEO, and Simon Mantell, a biscuit factory owner, who co-authored an article published in the Business Day.

Despite these audit firms “losing their way” and “their professional judgement”, the two CAs believe that “the IRBA (Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors) whose mandate covers registered auditors and the Saica (SA Institute of Chartered Accountants) whose responsibilities include but are not limited to training, bursaries and custodianship of the CA (SA) brand, continued to navel gaze, secure in the knowledge that the audit profession in SA had been ranked number one in the world for seven consecutive years.”

The article further pointed out that Saica has been unable to even administer its own multi-million rand bursary scheme without serious financial irregularities. Erik and Simon pointed out that with 45,000 accountants registered with Saica and 30,000 in business, and membership subscriptions of R7,000 due in January 2019, the collective R210 million in fees could be used to build between 10 and 20 schools or provide full bursaries for 525 students over four years of full-time study.

In light of this, Erik and Simon concluded that they would cancel their membership, effective 1 January 2019 and will only renew when Saica and the IRBA “get their respective houses in order”.

“Chartered accountants in business have to hold errant colleagues and their professional body to account, and the most effective way is to cancel our membership and rejoin when there is firm evidence of decisive action on the part of Saica. Our members are influential decision-makers who must preserve the reputation, the legacy and the legitimacy of the CA (SA) designation for future generations. We believe it is the responsibility of the significant but silent majority of chartered accountants to follow suit and establish a trust that can administer our not insignificant annual subscriptions towards a better cause.”