Finance Indaba 2017: Ngubane & Co is your full-service financial partner

“The key to the success of the company is our people. If you have one client who is dissatisfied, you are not likely to get new business. Our people are key and we have been very lucky to get good people," says Wilfred Ngubane, CEO and founder of Ngubane & Co, a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2017 on 12 and 13 October 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

  • Finance professionals and accountants register for the Finance Indaba for free with code FB2017!

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 Ngubane & Co can aid small businesses? Do you want to be informed about the latest and greatest in finance? Then don't miss the Finance Indaba Africa 2017.

The Finance Indaba is the biggest annual event on the continent for financial managers and specialists who are seeking partnerships to drive progress. Thousands of delegates will gain valuable insights into realising financial performance and growth, becoming more efficient and accessing funding, among a host of other opportunities from leading players in financial services.

Why have you chosen to partner with the Finance Indaba?
"Finance is our business. We are in the finance sector, so it makes sense for us to be at the Finance Indaba. We can provide insights to other attendees and benefit ourselves from participating. We will meet new people and contribute in terms of identifying challenges South Africa is facing in both private and public sectors and analyse how we can work together to move the country forward, eliminate obstacles and put our strengths together to push harder to gain mileage."

What will you be talking about?
"We want to have a conversation about small businesses to discuss their role, function, benefits and potential impediments regulators should look to remove. When we talk about small businesses, we are not talking about a small group of 10 or 15 - it comes down to the individual. A person who is selling a roasted mielie on the street, for example, is creating self-employment. How can we assist this person to finance their small business and simplify the business plan? How can someone with a growing business and knows their operations on a practical level access funding and draw up a business plan in a key format that answers criticial questions. People spend large amounts to create a business plan, but when they go back to the bank with it, the loan application is turned down. We want to help these people."

How was Ngubane & Co established and how has it grown over the years?
"I was born and educated in the Tugela valley area of KwaZulu-Natal, until I moved to Hillcrest and Umlazi in Durban. I studied to become a chartered accountant through the former University of Durban-Westville, and began working for the Small Business Development Corporation in 1990. I then moved to Natal Newspapers (now Independent) and became CFO. I opened the first Ngubane & Company office in Durban on 1 March 1995 with just one trainee accountant and a receptionist. We are now are a professional services firm with distinct capabilities in auditing (external and internal), accounting, business and IT consulting, forensic services and tax advisory services, with 240-300 staff, depending on the time of year. We have offices in KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces."

How do you see transformation in the financial services space?
"As practitioners in the audit and accounting space, we see a space where only the government is willing to open doors for the black professionals to be given the opportunities to do the audits. We need to have a conversation with owners, shareholders and directors in the private sector, because South Africa is a free market economy and business-owners make decisions independently of government. Over the past 23 years since democracy, there has been political change, the economic side of things is still as it was before. As Ngubane & Company, we do not compete on an equal footing with previously advantaged firms. Change may require regulatory intervention, which is not in line with the free economic model. There is still some way to go in terms of transformation, but in my view I think the best way to achieve it, is for the people to implement it. All companies want to transform, but they exclude the black professional from the transformation agenda.

"I am one of the senior black members of the profession, and younger people look up to us to take the lead role in engaging the private sector and government in these matters. We host summits and have engaged SAICA on the subject of promoting black professionals and firms. Our staff is almost entirely black and we do a lot of work in training and developing young black accountants as well. "

What are your plans for the future?
"We want to gain more private sector opportunities and at least tender for the audit work. If we can survive on business from government for so many years, we think we can now focus on getting more work from the private sector. Our plan is to embark on a mission to interact with the private sector, which is why we are taking this opportunity to attend CFO South Africa events. In terms of expansion, it is a dream for us to be in Africa, but we believe we have to have something compelling to offer other African countries. We want to attract other practitioners to become part of our network because of our strong client base, training and methodologies and efficient systems."

What has been key to your success?
"The key to the success of the company is our people. If you have one client who is dissatisfied, you are not likely to get new business. Our people are key and we have been very lucky to get good people. They are people who are willing to give their time for the interest of the business and go the extra mile for the company. We encourage our staff to beat expectations. Business retention is very important. The most damaging thing is when a client says they are not happy with your services and will be terminating the service. You also can't force a client to give you work. The people who said they believe in transformation took a leap of faith with us and we are grateful for this."

You've been in the industry for a long time. Do you have any advice for young accountants?
"When you train as an accountant, even after you've finished your articles, I don't think you can say that you've seen more than 10% of what the world requires. Graduation doesn't mean you can rest and wait for the money to come to you. Be ready to take on challenging opportunities and learn from them. Take advantage of Continuing Professional Development opportunities. Learning is a lifelong project. I'm still learning today and I don't think I have learned more than 20% of what I need to know. Mentorship is very important to me. We build human capital, because everything we do is around human beings. Yes, we can have machinery or technology, but our existence is based on supporting each other."