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6 reasons why setting up your own accounting practice is the smartest career move


By earning the Business Accountant in Practice, or BAP (SA) designation, your career is immediately catapulted to the next level.

This designation is offered exclusively by the SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) and makes you a member of one of the fastest growing accounting bodies in Africa. This gives you the professional recognition you need to market yourself to the entire corporate market.

Never has there been a greater need for accounting services, particularly as the country starts to emerge from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Nicolaas van Wyk, CEO of Saiba, says there has never been a better time to be an accountant

Says Saiba CEO Nicolaas van Wyk: “Companies are under severe stress, and accountants in business practice are needed as never before to assist in their turnaround strategies. Accountants are able to analyse the financial and operational drivers in client companies and assist them in restructuring liabilities, if this is needed, and also in rationalising operations to ensure business survival.”

Here are 6 reasons why being an accountant in practice is the best career move you can make, and why many Chartered Accountants and Tax Practitioners are making the move.

1. Professional recognition: The BAP (SA) designation gives you professional recognition and stature in the business community. Companies know that you are bound by a strict code of ethics and your professional conduct meets the exacting standards set by Saiba. This level of comfort is not available to accountants operating outside the Saiba family.

2. Technical and legal back-up: As a Saiba member, you get full technical back-up on issues such as tax compliance, as well as legal advice through Saiba’s partnership with Legal Sense. This gives you the legal back-up you need in matters such as labour and contract law, the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, and Covid-19 compliance, everything related to human resources, as well as personal legal advice (including marriage, divorce, grievance handling, dismissals, and consumer-related matters, etc.).

3. Places you in charge of full accounting cycle: The BAP(SA) designation places you in charge of your client’s accounting cycle making you an indispensable business partner. It equips you to: develop the financial plan that will support the clients business model, implement control systems and process transactions, prepare budgets and finance reports, prepare and analyse financial statements, issue assurance and non-assurance reports, file returns and perform tax planning.

4. Earn better pay: There is abundant evidence that a professional designation substantially boosts your earnings potential. PayScale reports that accountants earn between R256,000 to R640,000 in SA, though those with the BAP (SA) designation are definitely at the upper end of this scale, and often way in excess of this.

Research by executive search organisation Robert Half points to the benefits of a professional designation:

Accounting designations are among the most beneficial professional credentials you can list on your resume. Designations demonstrate competence in your area of the finance and accounting industry, make you a more desirable candidate for open positions and improve your salary potential.

Current and prospective employers want professionals to have these designations, but you have to think critically when deciding which of the many accounting accreditations is best for your career path.

Certain designations create opportunities for a variety of positions, while others are geared toward highly specialized roles. Deciding between these options depends on your interests, skills and the flexibility of your career goals.

5. Learn specialist skills: The skills required of the modern accountant go far beyond what is taught in accounting schools. What’s not taught in accounting schools is business rescue and turnaround skills, which is offered as a specialist licence through Saiba. You can also earn a specialist licence as an accounting officer to allow you to perform accounting tasks for more than 24,000 schools across the country, as well as farms, NGOPs, churches and other bodies. Many Saiba members run thriving practices focusing just on this.

6. Career progression made easier: You get to upgrade your skills level through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and join a dynamic, fast-growing and progressive organisation that believes in assisting its members in achieving their professional and business objectives.

Concludes Van Wyk: “Saiba exists to represent its members’ interests both professionally and practically. We have over 8,000 members involved in every accounting role imaginable. Some are tax practitioners, and we are able to keep them abreast of the latest development through our association with the SA Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT). Others are specialising in management and cost accounting, others are focused exclusively on the revolution happening in accounting and IT, where machine learning and artificial intelligence are taking over the routine functions traditionally performed by bookkeepers. We are preparing accountants for this brave new world. “

It starts with earning the BAP (SA) designation. As your career progresses, you should take your next steps up the professional ladder by applying next for the Certified Business Accountant or CBA (SA), and finally the elite designation of Certified Finance Officer or CFO (SA), aimed at finance executives with at least 10 years’ experience.

For more information, visit Saiba here: http://saiba.org.za/