Ricochet News

Reform on the horizon for SA's accounting and auditing sector

Jun 18, 2018
Reform on the horizon for SA's accounting and auditing sector

Leaders from the South African accounting industry gathered at a Southern African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA) summit last week in an effort to unpack the disconcerting state of the accounting and auditing profession - with the aim of achieving industry reform and regulatory compliance across the board.

The summit, Reforming the Accounting and Auditing Profession, took place directly after the SAIBA annual general meeting (AGM) in Pretoria on Thursday, 31 May.

Speaker at the event, Rich Preece - who is the Global Leader of the QuickBooks Accountant Business - notes that the crisis in confidence in the accounting and auditing sector, due to multiple instances of corporate fraud and corruption, needs to be addressed from within the industry.

“Government is doing its part, intervening and conducting investigations into these happenings but, as an industry, it is our duty to initiate reform from within and regain the trust of the South African public and international stakeholders,” he says.

QuickBooks, the world's leading cloud accounting solution provider with 700,000 accountant partners and over seven million users across the world, first partnered with SAIBA (a voluntary accounting membership body with more than 6,500 members) in 2018 to provide members with exclusive deals on software solutions aimed at enhancing their business operations and customer experience.

The summit, attended by over 200 industry delegates and decision makers, was opened by Mark Kingon, the South African Revenue Services’ (SARS) Acting Commissioner. Kingon captivated the attention of the room as he delivered his keynote address, with a particular focus on SARS’ commitment to rebuild the reputation of the agency to provide an effective, professional, transparent and fair service to taxpayers.

“Heavy-handed tactics by SARS officials such as the withholding of legitimate refunds, repeated audits and the unabated allegations of maladministration and mismanagement have eroded the trust in the revenue authority.  This has led to a decline in tax morality and tax revenue. Trust in a tax authority is the most important factor in ensuring compliance. Rampant non-compliance - because of the current trust deficit - has to be turned around if the country wants to succeed. Tax abuse must be reported quickly, but at the same time SARS must take it seriously and act on it without fear or favour,” he said.

The roundtable discussion, moderated by Business Day Editor, Hilary Joffe, delved further into the state of the profession, what led to the current crisis and likely outcomes from the fallout.

Panellists Nicolaas van Wyk (SAIBA CEO), Bernard Agulhas (Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors CEO), David Lewis (Corruption Watch Executive Director), Fanisa Lamola (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants Acting CEO) and Adv. Rory Voller (Commissioner at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) noted the shortcomings of the sector and highlighted what action they believe is required to bring the industry back into good standing.

Van Wyk raised the point that it was critical to take a long and hard look at the profession because smaller firms were struggling to break into the market. “Access is not equal in many ways.” He noted that millions are being spent by government on consulting work, with only a few smaller firms getting a slice of the work.

Preece then took to the stage to shed light on how today’s accounting firms can tap into technology to become future-ready.

“What being ‘future ready’ ultimately means is accommodating the demands of next generation clients and businesses, most of whom are part of the Millennial Generation or Generation Y. This generation has grown up with the internet, knowing no other way, with their mobile being their trusted advisor. Accommodating and harnessing this demographic by leveraging the power of providing real-time, on demand business information at the speed, accuracy and convenience to which they have become accustomed will ultimately decide which firms survive and thrive versus those that will undoubtedly face disruption,” he said.

Concluding the event, Preece demonstrated how QuickBooks’ latest offering, QuickBooks Online Accountant, can not only help accounting firms manage all their tasks across all clients, but also grow by delivering small business leads.

“QuickBooks Online Accountant is truly the one place to help you grow and manage your firm end to end,” he concluded.

For more information about QuickBooks, or for a free QuickBooks trial, please visit: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/za/.