Shahied Daniels, Chief Executive SAIPA: IFRS and tax form the base


“The base for any Professional Accountant’s career is knowledge of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Taxation,” says Shahied Daniels, Chief Executive at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). The organisation that Daniels leads , with more than 10,000 members, most of them Professional Accountants, tax specialists and other finance experts that service small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"SAIPA turned 30 years old last year," says Daniels, who has been leading the organisation - from its Midrand offices - for the last nine years. "We started as an institute for accounting technicians, but have grown into a professional body where training and career development are centrally positioned. An example is a recently launched ATC ( Accredited Training Centre) within the Gauteng Treasury, which can accommodate 20 people."Currently there are around 860 accredited training centres countrywide, which train SAIPA Trainee Accountants through on-the-job training or learnerships and culminate in an exam set by SAIPA.

Daniels proudly mentions a long list of national and international organisations that SAIPA works with via MOU's and MOA's, and have mutual beneficial relationships with local PAO's.Our members are predominantly SMP practitioners servicing the SME-market. We have quite a number of members in corporate South Africa as well and we're growing slowly in the public sector."

Daniels says he wants to grow the number of SAIPA members by 50 percent over the next five years, partly by attracting more finance experts from big corporates. "I think our growth opportunities are in corporate South Africa and we're making major inroads." "Another one of the impediments for further growth for SAIPA is that corporates have limited budget for training and development, says Daniels. "They often prefer short courses rather than 3 year learnerships".

According to Daniels SAIPA members as Professional Accountants (SA) accountants have transformed to business advisors over the last decade. "When it comes to budgeting and control, my philosophy is that it starts with understanding the business. There always used to be a conflict between accountants on the one side and engineers and operational people on the other - the feeling was that accountants were delaying processes unnecessarily. But I believe we're not seen as a group in dark and grey suits that lack humour anymore. Accountants have become the strategic advisors to businesses."

Daniels feels that "corporate CFOs should talk more to the Professional accountants of SME businesses". The dialogue between big firms and small contractors sometimes takes place in a "haze", because the people are used to doing business at different levels. "That is why it can help to look for a Professional accountant in that small business, a SAIPA member, because they speak the same language as CFOs."

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