Future finance professionals share their insights in article clerk survey

From working remotely to the state of auditing in South Africa, these article clerks share all.

In 2020, Blue Recruiting launched an article clerks survey to gauge the mood of article clerks with regard to their futures, giving CFOs, CEOs, financial managers and other potential employers insight into the views of these up-and-coming finance professionals.

Working remotely
Covid-19 has forced many people to start working remotely. According to the survey, more third-year trainees would choose to continue working remotely and occasionally going into the office for meetings than working predominantly from the office, with the flexibility to work remotely on occasion.

Almost no one wants to revert back to the full-time office-bound jobs of the pre-Covid working environment, and the factor article clerks enjoyed the most about working remotely was not spending time in traffic.

However, the majority of trainees felt that their engagement was less efficient due to having to work remotely. “So it would seem these young article clerks prefer to work from home for their own personal happiness, but it may not be in the interest of the employer,” the survey read.

The article clerks said that the biggest challenge to working remotely was the difficulty in setting boundaries between when you are at work and when you are not, followed by an incongruous management style – “just get the job done, but then having to justify overtime”. Loadshedding was often mentioned as another big challenge.

Finding employment
Forty-two percent of trainees are very concerned about finding employment in 2021 and 79 percent are at least somewhat concerned. Non-Big 4 trainees are 10 percent more concerned than the total trainees group. EY and KPMG employees are the most concerned segment of the population.

When it comes to finding a job, the majority of trainees believe they will initially be selective but may need to take what they can get after a while. Forty-two percent don’t expect to find their dream job straight out of articles, and only five percent of trainees believe they can be extremely selective.

How long should your first job last?
Sixteen percent of article clerks don’t think that it makes a difference how long you spend at your first job – if a better job arises, take it. More than a third think that more than one year is sufficient, and almost 60 percent believe that a year to 18 months is sufficient. Just over a quarter believe that two years or more is the minimum amount of time that one should spend at your first job.

Working abroad
According to the survey, only thee percent of article clerks said they would decline any overseas working opportunity, regardless of the duration.

The three top reasons for wanting to work abroad were positive pull factors and not the more negative South African push factors. These positive factors include international experience, opportunity to travel and financial reasons (in that order). The more negative push factors of personal safety, political instability, employability, and economic pessimism were all ranked at the bottom of the driving factors, with personal safety appearing at the top of that list.

Almost half of the respondents indicated that, although the country has its issues, they feel it could be much worse with 31 percent thinking that South Africa has much more potential than is currently reflected.

The state of audit
Unfortunately, 83 percent of the respondents believe that the title of CA of South Africa has devalued in the past three years.

A quarter of trainees felt that SAICA and the IRBA performed poorly over the past three years. Thirty-one percent felt the IRBA did a good job and 36 percent scored SAICA’s performance as above average. Fifty-seven percent of trainees do not believe that auditors do enough to detect fraud in their audits.