The department of trade and industry has gazetted a revised draft of the chartered accountancy profession sector code in a bid to transform the profession.

The draft code comes on the back of increasing calls in the industry for more black ownership and management at companies, particularly in the accounting sector.

In the gazette, published on Friday, the department said its goal is to increase the number of black chartered accountants, particularly women, in ownership and management of chartered accounting companies.

“The vision of the chartered accountancy (CA) profession sector code is to grow the number of black people in the CA profession to reflect the country’s population demographics, to empower and enable them to meaningfully participate in and sustain the growth of the economy, thereby advancing equal opportunity and equitable income distribution,” reads the draft of the charter. 

The department found that black people faced a number of challenges that locked them out of the accounting profession from high school, through tertiary institutions and into the workplace.

With regard to ownership and management, the department found that many black accountants left public practice due to higher salaries in the private sector, to avoid the high risks of the public practices including litigation and inadequate career planning.

The department also found that black partners were expected to play a disproportionately large role in business development and marketing, taking their time away from technical input and personal development.

To remedy this, the department of trade and industry recommended that auditing be sold as an exciting career option, that companies have career development plans for chartered accountants  and other professionals and that black partners play a bigger role in the delivery of technical services and practice management.

It also recommended effective mentoring of black chartered accountants by senior employees. At high school level, the department said the target was to increase the number of learners who go on to study accountancy.

The challenges these learners face include a lack of career awareness and insufficient subject choice guidance, which means that black learners do not know about accounting and other positions in the sector.

Teachers are also unaware of the importance of maths for future careers, said the department, calling for more awareness for high school learners.

The other side of the problem is that there are few maths teachers and learners do not have the right numeracy and English literacy skills to study at universities and colleges.

In tertiary institutions some of the challenges black students face, include having to drop out due to financial pressure while those who study part time take longer to qualify.

Some of the department of trade and industry’s recommendations are that tertiary institutions include skills training and socioeconomic coping mechanisms, more quality bursaries and supervision for black chartered accounting students and mentoring.

In a statement issued on Friday, the chairperson of the CA Charter Council and executive chairperson of the African Women Chartered Accountants Investment Holding Company, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, said: “Our profession has faced many challenges over the past few years. Now that the CA Charter has finally been gazetted, not only can the profession ramp up the transformation efforts it began so many years ago but it can elevate these plans to restore the nobility of the profession while executing tangible results.”

Mabaso-Koyana said the CA charter deviates from the standard allocation of points as per broad-based black economic empowerment legislation in that it places emphasis on skills development.

Chantyl Mulder, SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) executive director for nation building, said that though the number of prospective CAs was growing due to transformation initiatives, SA still had a large shortage of black and coloured CAs in particular. The charter provided the profession with an opportunity to empower them.

mashegop@businesslive.co.za