Accounting weekly

Now you can get an accounting designation while studying

In a breakthrough for accounting students, the SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) has announced the launch of a new programme called U2Pro (“University to Professionals”) which allows them to earn an accounting designation while still studying or engaged in work-study programmes.

What makes this a world-first is that students will be able to gain work experience in two ways: in a physical accounting office, or in a virtual accounting office. Saiba, in collaboration with Middel & Partners – one of the largest privately-owned accounting firms in SA – offers students a completely immersive, augmented reality learning experience that replicates actual office conditions, such as client engagement, dispute resolution, team management and simulated audits. These are skills generally learned only after several years of actual work experience, but can now be accessed by accounting students at the start of their careers.

“The problem that many accounting and business students have is that they do not have professional recognition after completing their studies, which can make it harder for them to find employment,” says Nicolaas van Wyk, CEO of Saiba.

The skills needed by the accountant of the future

The type of skills needed in the future will be leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as general problem solving and critical thinking skills (Source: World Government Summit 2019). Van Wyk says existing academic programmes are ill-prepared to offer the kind of skills required of the accountant of the future. 

“It’s no longer sufficient to have technical knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting. You need a much wider arsenal of skills, including business analysis, strategy, IT and team leadership. This is precisely what we are offering. Our augmented reality programme allows a student using very advanced hardware and software developed in collaboration with Middel & Partners, to gain learning experience in a simulated environment that would otherwise only be available to accountants after several years in practice.”

In addition to full-time accounting students, the U2Pro programme is also targeting those studying part-time while holding down a job in an accounting practice. 

By participating in the U2Pro programme, these students will now be able to apply for the BA (SA) or Business Accountant (SA) designation while still undergoing their studies. The cost is R360 and is open to students of accounting, law, economics and business management, to name a few.

Saiba is the natural home for business accountants who have experience but lack professional recognition. Those who have no experience can still qualify for student membership.

The professional body offers a graduated scale of designations, commencing with BA (SA), which recognises accountants with experience in performing various financial management functions within the finance department.

Many students on work-study schedules have demonstrated an ability to perform these functions, but do not enjoy professional recognition for their experience. “The BA (SA) designation from Saiba demonstrates your administration abilities to future employers,” says van Wyk.

The BA (SA) designation leads to a more prosperous and fulfilling career as an accountant. Research has shown that accountants with professional designation receive higher pay than those without, and also enjoy a more rapid career ascent.

Other designations offered by Saiba include:

BAP (SA) or Business Accountant in Practice (SA) – which is aimed at business accountants in practice serving as trusted advisors to SMEs. The types of services offered include preparation of financial statements, reports on business performance, developing strategies to reduce expenses and increase revenue, preparing budgets, ensuring tax compliance, and negotiating with banks and creditors.

CBA (SA) or Certified Business Accountant – a designation which rewards those in senior finance roles, such as financial controllers, finance lawyers, investment bankers and personal relationship managers.

CFO (SA) or Certified Financial Officer (SA) – this is the highest designation offered by Saiba and those with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in a senior financial role can apply. This is aimed at those performing a strategic and top leadership role in the financial management and operations of an organisation. They typically lead a company’s accounting, revenue, and finance departments, focusing on achieving and projecting excellent financial health for the company.

“There is a pathway to better and higher professional recognition within the accounting profession, and our aim is to make it possible for students of higher educational institutions to apply for and secure a designation at an early stage on their career,” says van Wyk.

Saiba is awarding complimentary designation with 1 year membership to qualifying graduates. This is currently being launched through Akademia, with plans to expand this to other higher educational institutions.

On successful completion of third year studies and two years’ relevant experience (core competencies as per BA membership form) the following students receive:

Academic qualification Saiba designation

Business Management (NQF 7)BA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Economics and Law (NQF 7)BA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Financial Planning (NQF 7)BA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Higher Certificate in Accounting (NQF 5) (1 year programme)BA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Management Accounting (NQF 7)BAP (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Postgraduate Diploma in Tax (NQF 8)CBA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary
Postgraduate diploma in Management Accounting (NQF 8)CBA (SA) & R360 membership complimentary

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