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What career opportunities exist for a chartered accountant?
A CAREER as a chartered accountant opens doors to many career opportunities. One can work as an auditor and-or accountant for an auditing firm where you would be involved in the statutory audits of companies or supplying management advice services, tax advice services and advice about information technology.
This is the career direction that I have chosen for myself.
One could also be an accountant in commerce and industry performing a range of duties such as compilation of management information, financial reporting, internal control, tax matters and asset management to name a few.
A CA can consult independently in any of the areas mentioned above. CAs are in huge demand worldwide ,with auditing firms being the major employers.
Please give us a rundown of a day in the life of a chartered accountant.
No two days are ever the same and that's what keeps me on my toes.
My day usually starts early, and the reason for this is twofold: it's quiet in the office and my most productive time, and secondly to beat the Johannesburg traffic.
My days are generally spent out at clients' offices where I have teams of trainee accountants examining the books and records of the client, considering the adequacy of the controls over the safekeeping of the client's assets, as well as the fairness of the financial statements prepared by the client for presentation to its shareholders or the public.
As an audit manager I manage two or three assignments at any given time, with audit team's sizes varying from two to 12 trainees.
For each assignment I am required to focus on areas such as budget and time management, people management including fostering good client relations, on-the-job training for staff and keeping partners up to date and informed on the audit status.
Working hours vary. In our busy season a 12-hour is not uncommon.
Why did you decide on this career?
I decided ... because of the fact that the profession is well recognised and in demand all over the world. It opens doors to many career opportunities.
What's challenging about the job?
The most challenging aspect of my job is the time management aspect - there never seems to be enough hours in the day.
What do you enjoy most about it?
What I love ... is the variety of our client base and hence a broad exposure to a number of industries.
I'm also afforded the opportunity to gain international exposure. For example, last year I was seconded to the Grant Thornton office in Moscow, Russia.
What type of person will make it in the financial services industry?
One with character and personality. To be successful qualities such as integrity, intelligence, good judgment, a strong analytical tendency, determination and being a good team player are essential.
What subjects do you need to pass in high school to be able to studytowards this career?
It might seem bizarre but one does not even need to study accounting at school to enable you to pursue a career as a chartered accountant.
Ensure that you pass maths and English exceptionally well and simply aim for higher marks all around in order to pass Grade 12 with an exemption.
Subjects that are not compulsory but will definitely benefit you include accounting, business economics and economics.
What does one study at a tertiary level to be able to get into this career?
A BCom (Accounting) and a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting programme that is accredited with the SA Institute for Chartered Accountants).
What growth prospects are there in this career?
As a CA in public practice you could go on to be one of the partners of the firm.
What is the starting salary for a CA in SA?
Between R320000 to R360000 a year but it could be higher depending on the industry and company you join.