Finance Indaba 2016: AAT graduates easily turn theory into practice

“Our local government and public sector qualifications are based on competency frameworks of municipalities and the National Treasury. They are designed to fit the purpose exactly,” says Nadine Kater, GM of the South African chapter of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), a silver partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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In the coming weeks and months, we will be chatting to all the Indaba partners, asking them why they are joining the event and what their most important message for finance professionals is.

Do you want to hear how AAT is revolutionising the training of accounting technicians? Do you want to be informed about the latest and greatest in finance? Then don't miss the Finance Indaba Africa 2016.

Why will you be present at the Finance Indaba?
"The Indaba presents an opportunity for us to engage with leaders in the finance field, both from the point of view that is structured around companies and opportunities for accounting technicians and the broader industry career pipeline. Many professional bodies have focused on very senior finance professionals, but have neglected the fact that for these senior professionals to function at an optimum level, it makes sense that the people dealing with the initial finance transactions at a support level are trained to improve efficiencies of the accounting cycle. We are hoping to engage with firms about opportunities for accounting technicians, whose practical knowledge, unlike that gained in many other academic qualifications, is easy to apply to the workplace."

What will you be talking about?
"Sometimes, companies think that training is just a nice-to-have, so I will be presenting a case study on the actual ROI and focusing on financial and non-financial benefits of training in general. I will be looking at learnership grants, tax incentives and new BEE codes, while also covering recognition of prior learning and the myriad of providers and flexible methodologies available."

Are AAT student numbers growing?
"AAT is global professional body that deals exclusively with accounting technicians as members and has done so for the past 30 years. The South African chapter is a joint venture between AAT UK and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and has been running for eight years. The initial thrust focused on capacity-building in municipalities, with a specifically formulated local government qualification. We trained 4 000 people and in four to five years, 2 600 qualified. This is quite remarkable, because these were adult students. For the past two years, we have been talking about the qualification to the corporate sector - we've had a very good response from employers."

Are AAT qualifications a viable alternative to traditional ones like a BCom?
"Absolutely - we offer a more flexible way to study, with 36 providers across the country offering distance, online and face-to-face, classroom learning. These providers work with employers to provide on-site training to structure programme in such a way that it does not impact on the employee's work schedule. We are open access - candidates don't necessarily have to have a matric certificate because we recognise work experience. Our three sets of qualifications - for corporate, local government and public sector - are all Saqa-accredited. In addition, we have been recognised as a controlling body for tax, so our members are members are able to perform tax function and act as commissioners of oaths. We've ticked all the compliance boxes."

How can AAT help SA in 2016?
"Our local government and public sector qualifications are based on competency frameworks of municipalities and the National Treasury. They are designed to fit the purpose exactly. Our graduates are able to implement principles immediately, resulting in a quick turnaround time and more efficient operations."

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