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Rhett Finch, CFO of King Price Insurance. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA
Rhett Finch, CFO of King Price Insurance. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA

Started by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) in 2014, The Top-35-under-35 competition recognises young CAs(SA) achievers who are not only excelling in their professional capacity, but who are also making a meaningful contribution to society.

If you think you have what it takes to be a Saica
Top-35-under-35 finalist, click here to enter.

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Here are three trailblazers who were also honoured with various awards.

CFO of King Price Insurance Rhett Finch is the Lead category winner of the 2019 Top-35-under-35 competition

As CFO of King Price Insurance, Rhett Finch has successfully guided the R100m start-up to a R3.3bn company in six years. Its business model has saved its clients more than R150m in decreasing premiums. “We all work for a greater purpose. Our ethos of #MakingADifference is entrenched in everything we do. For us, people are more important than profit,” says Finch.

His life took a sharp turn when he met Gideon Galloway, then CEO of advertising agency ThinkTank, now CEO of King Price, for a cup of coffee in 2011. Finch decided right then and there that he wanted to be part of this dream. 

Finch says he learnt pretty fast that everyone starts at the bottom and that no-one can expect to be a leader from day one. “Respect is earned; it isn’t a given when you get a qualification or a title. So, you need to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the work. Your academic learning is just theory and the real learning happens on the job. It’s also important that you never stop learning. Information becomes redundant very quickly and the workplace changes daily.”

Since King Price launched in June 2012, Finch has helped to achieve year-on-year growth of 75% since year one. He has overseen and grown the finance function from a start-up into a complex, regulated insurance company with a wide variety of short-term lines of business that encompass products across the personal, commercial and specialised ambits.

As MD of King Price’s corporate and broker arm, he oversees the strategy and operations for this side of the business. He recently led an acquisition of an established life insurance company that has enabled King Price to extend into the life insurance market.

“My every working hour — and that of each of our staff members — contributes to community upliftment. Our major shareholder, Mertech, a private investment group, uses 70% of its profit, via the Mergon Foundation and Nation Builder, to make an impact on lives in SA. So, when King Price officially started generating a bottom-line profit, we could also feel good about our success being part of a greater plan to do great good across SA,” says Finch.

Finch says his head told him to study business. “My uncle, who I’m very close to and have always looked up to, is a CA in the insurance industry, so I followed his example, he says about the decision made to take the CA(SA) route while standing in the queue waiting to register for his undergrad degree at Stellenbosch University. “I can’t say that I’ve ever regretted that snap decision.”

Gideon Botha, senior financial manager at Nedbank, is the ‘Simplifying Your Success’ award winner in the 2019 Top-35-under-35 competition

Gideon Botha, senior financial manager at Nedbank. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA
Gideon Botha, senior financial manager at Nedbank. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA

Gideon Botha is a well-rounded researcher and futurist with a balanced outlook on life. He is that exceptional example of an academic who applies all his knowledge to addressing social issues.

Rooted in his unquenchable desire to grow and learn, after completing his CA(SA) qualification Botha expanded his technical capabilities by completing two postgraduate degrees while applying his skills and talents to addressing core issues in SA’s private health care system.

Titled “Developing a framework for price tariffs in the costing structures of South African private hospitals” his PhD recommends a unit-costing model and reimbursement model combination that can be used to determine price tariffs in private hospitals in SA. It will offer a framework for the implementation of National Health Insurance.

“I believe that my PhD will not only have great significance for private health care in SA but will also make a valuable contribution to our country’s troubled health care system. It addresses the concerns raised by the Competition Commission and the department of health regarding the high cost of private health care, to help make it more affordable and accessible to more people,” says Botha.

The Top 4 finalist for the BHF Titanium Young Achiever Award, which celebrates young professionals who have made a notable impact in the health care industry, says other proud moments include presenting the results of his master’s thesis at the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines (IABPAD) Conference in Spain, and the publication of two academic articles that he co-authored.

“At heart, I am an academic who loves to learn and study the latest trends in finance, health care and the global economy. As someone who is fascinated by the opportunities the future holds, I’m actively pursuing my development and qualifications as a professional futurist,” says Botha.

Botha gives back to his community through the informal mentorship programme he initiated, and by serving on the Nedbank medical aid board in support of his Nedbank colleagues and their families.

Hlengiwe Ndlela, auditing lecturer at University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA
Hlengiwe Ndlela, auditing lecturer at University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUPPLIED/SAICA

Hlengiwe Ndlela, auditing lecturer at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is the ‘Power of Professional Thinking’ award winner in the 2019 Top-35-under-35 competition

Hlengiwe Ndlela knows exactly how hard failure can knock you down but giving up is just never an option. Today, she mentors scores of students into confident professionals as she understands that sometimes all you need is someone to give you that rainbow of hope.

Besides the analytical abilities that steered her towards the chartered accountant profession, it was a woman who presented at a Saica development camp in 2003 who inspired Ndlela to pursue a career as a CA(SA).

She taught grades 10 to 12 accounting for years, and then served her articles at Ernest & Young in Durban while studying for her Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification. Despite taking the exam four times, Ndlela never lost her confidence or her belief in her abilities. “Being allowed to study part time and work in an environment that is relevant to my studies with proper support, I was able to achieve my CTA,” says Ndlela.

Today Ndlela is an auditing lecturer and researcher in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance at the UKZN's Westville Campus and is pursuing her PhD at the UKZN. She was also a panellist on the young academics segment of the 2019 Forbes Africa Women Leading Summit.

As a Thuthuka programme manager, her students achieved a 99% pass rate in the first semester of 2019. She also runs an intervention programme for African CTA students at UKZN, and is involved with among other projects, 1Woman1Girl mentorship, an NPO that she cofounded that aims to empower women one girl at a time. She runs grade 9 career day workshops for more than 900 learners as well as collecting donations of sanitary towels for primary school girls in a drive to “keep-the-girl-in-school” in Inanda North in Durban.

Ndlela sits in the KZN regional committee for the Advancement of Women Chartered Accountants where she looks after student chapters at UKZN and recently served as the secretary of the KZN region of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of southern Africa fostering youth development and providing support for aspiring black CAs(SA) in the region. She also volunteers at Meals on Wheels community services KZN and Free State area as finance committee chair and board member in light of elevating poverty through providing meals for South Africans in need.

All the Top-35-under-35 winners are young CAs(SA) who are leaders in their respective positions and who are continuously growing their skills and knowledge and ploughing it back into their communities. 

If you think you have what it takes to be a Saica Top-35-under-35 finalist, click here to enter.

This article was paid for by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.