What Does the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants(SAICA) do?

Similar to the world, South Africa also has its own Institute of Chartered Accountants called the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Many people ask about the difference between chartered accountancy and the other accounting fields. It’s a commonly asked question what does the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) do?

Before we get into the debate, it’s important to address the difference between chartered accountancy and other accounting fields. It’s a common belief that chartered accountancy is all about debit/credit.

However, chartered accountancy provides accountants with the guidance, structure, and practical accounting knowledge that no other professional accounting field doesn’t provide.

The bigger picture of chartered accountancy is that it plays a significant role in nation-building. With the vetted chartered accountants having a deep understanding of the economy and financial expertise, they have the potential to get the economy in the right direction.

It’s a common perception that chartered accountants play a role in accountability, taxation, economic planning, social accounting, and capital formation at a national level.

In this article, we will focus on the role of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and how to become a chartered accountant in South Africa. So let’s get into it right away.

What is SAICA(South African Institute of Chartered Accountants)?

South African Institute of Chartered Accountants is a credible and pioneer accountancy body in South Africa.

SAICA is not just confined to South Africa but also has a global reputation. The accountancy body aims to bring accounting excellence by developing, influencing, and leading the high-level ethical, educational, and professional standards of accounting skills.

Currently, the institute offers three professional accounting and business designations: Accounting Technician(AT[SA]), Chartered Accountant (CA[SA]), and Associate General Accountant (AGA[SA]). SAICA plays a significant role in regulating and safeguarding professional standards at all designation levels.

As described by SAICA, it’s all about:

  • A regulated membership body that has codes conforming to the Internation Ethics Standards Board for Accountants(IESBA), and all the members of SAICA are bound to conform to the SAICA Codes.
  • The institute has set the highest and most rigorous standards and qualifying criteria. The members of the prestigious institute have to go through the regulated and rigorous assessments and education to keep them ahead of the industry trends.
  • SAICA adheres to its commitment to everlasting learning and professional development by maintaining professional excellence and relevance for the members and associates. To meet the commitment, the institute brings together research opportunities, professional excellence, accounting standards and regulation updates, and governance guidelines for the members.
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History of SAICA

Although formally founded in 1980, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has a rich history behind it. To find the exact history of chartered accountancy in South Africa, we have to refer to the era of Frederick Verburgh Jan van Riebeeck (1652).

The former arrived at the Cape while the latter became a bookkeeper-in-residence to the Dutch East India Company.

In the 19th century, the gold and diamond discovery, Johannesburg Stock Exchange(1887), and the South African War(Anglo-Boer War) set the stage for the creation of SAICA in South Africa. The two world wars also played a role in bringing the country on the road to creating SAICA.

With each event in history, the need for accountants, bookkeepers, and auditors increased. Therefore, a generally accepted exam system with credible training standards was required.

The Institute of Accountants and Auditors In the South African Republic(IAASAR) was founded in 1894. Just after two years, the South African Committee of the Society of Accountants(SAC) was also formed to have a regulated system.

The consolidated accounting body continued to exist until 1910 when the political union of four separate geographical areas was formed by the Union of South Africa. After the union formation, the local accounting bodies came into existence.

After 11 years, the local accounting societies had a consensus on establishing a consolidated South African Accounting Societies’ General Examining Board(GEB) for devising and implementing professional standards.

Finally, after a struggle over the years by the four local accounting bodies, SAICA came into existence in 1980.

Where is it located?

South African Institute of Chartered Accountants is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, there are four regional offices and two international offices as well. The details of the regional and international representative offices of SAICA are as follows:

  1. Northern Region (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces);
  2. Eastern Region (KwaZulu-Natal province);
  3. Southern Region (Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces);
  4. Central Region (Free State, North West, and Northern Cape provinces);
  5. SAICA Australia;
  6. SAICA United Kingdom (UK).

Need of SAICA

The local accounting bodies were working in South Africa. However, with advances in globalization, there was a need for a consolidated representation of the accounting bodies.

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This meant the need for aligning the profession with international standards. After 60 years of the legislation and efforts of the accounting bodies in South Africa, SAICA was formed in 1980. It is often regarded as the era of change in the country’s accounting system.

Role of SAICA

According to the mission statement of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, the role of the accounting body is to develop and produce entry-level accountants to meet the industry’s needs.

It also plays a significant role in providing services to pass out and existing Cas(SA), entrepreneurs, CEOs, managing directors, business owners, board directors, financial directors, auditors, etc.

The scope of services provided by SAICA is to make sure that the designations mentioned above are playing a due role in the success and development of the country’s economy.

The vision behind establishing the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants is to produce business leaders, community leaders, and government leaders.

What does the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants do?

The broader objective of the SAICA is to play a role in the economic development and financial competence of South Africa. However, the role can be broken down into practical and implemented actions by the institution.

Here are the main functions of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants:

1. Offer Three Reputable and Professional Designations

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants(SAICA) plays its role in a practical way for economic development and financial competence of the economy. They are offering three professional designations that are as follows:

  • Accounting Technician[AT(SA)]
  • Chartered Accountant[CA(SA)]
  • Associate General Accountant[AGA(SA)]

The three professional designations align with the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct and  continuous professional development to promote discipline and performance.

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2. Ethical and Professional Development

SAICA is the responsible institute for the ethical and professional development of entrepreneurs, businessmen, accountants, financial experts, financial officials, etc. Therefore, SAICA devises governance & discipline codes, SAICA fraud line, and SAICA code.

3. Aligning National Accounting Bodies With International Market

Another key function of SAICA is aligning the national talent and accounting professionals with the international markets and needs.

They provide the international level of professional development and guideline so that the national talent can compete at the international level. SAICA is also responsible for matching international opportunities with accounting professionals and members.

4. Governance and Discipline

Governance and discipline is the core responsibility of SAICA. It caters to all disciplinary processes, hearings, outcomes, and legal documents of the SAICA code of professional conduct.

As the core values of SAICA, every member of the institute must adhere to the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct which emphasizes: confidentiality, integrity, professional competence, objectivity, and professional behavior.

How to Become CA in South Africa?

SAICA is indeed a very prestigious institute of South African accounting communities, and many accounting professionals aspire to become Chartered Accountants. Here are the general requirements as described by SAICA for becoming a CA(Chartered Accountant) in South Africa:

  1. The first step is to qualify for the University Entrance Matric with good marks in Maths and Accounting.
  2. The second step is securing admission to a university for a degree recognized by SAICA to write CTA(Certificate in Theory). You can look up the SAICA-recognized universities here.
  3. Once you’ve completed your degree and scored enough marks to get entrance into CTA, you’ve to complete the CTA.
  4. The fourth step is signing up for Training Office to start the Learnership. Once completed, you have to appear in 2 board exams: an initial test of competence and an assessment of professional competence.

Wrap Up

You know how to become a chartered accountant in South Africa. We have discussed everything about the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants(SAICA). You know what the role and function of the SAICA for the economy and the financial competence of the accounting professionals are.