Wessie van der Westhuizen, partner at professional accounting firm Willems & van der Westhuizen in Johannesburg has agreed to be an ambassador for SA Accounting Academy’s (SAAA) continuous professional development (CPD) events, as well as virtual classroom portal – AcademyOne’s – short learning programmes.
SAAA offers CPD training for accountants, auditors and bookkeepers including a range of live seminars and conferences; online webinars and recorded seminars as well as certificate courses on various technical and business topics related to the industry.
AcademyOne takes the experience and knowledge of SAAA to the cloud and through partnerships with the Southern Africa Institute of Business Accountants (SAIBA), UNISA and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) it offers professionals access to the quality certificate courses supported by its video lectures and online support.
Van der Westhuizen says that although the profession’s expertise in taxation, finance and accounting principles in essence is invaluable, what really sets a firm apart is versatility and its ability to adapt to industry trends. That means a truly successful accountant will possess a range of diverse skills, directly or indirectly related to the traditional business proposition. “An accountant should be business-savvy, adept with technology, a strong communicator and a good leader,” he says.
“The business landscape is changing at such a vast pace with constant changes in legislation, growing corporate governance initiatives and technological innovation, staying abreast of trends has become a necessity rather than a professional courtesy.”
Professional accountants must offer an effective and high quality service to win and retain business and maintain the trust and confidence of their clients, he says. They have an ethical obligation to all stakeholders to undertake their work with due care and diligence.
Maintaining professional competence allows individuals to continue to learn throughout their career, to develop their technical skills, and to keep pace with accountancy changes and innovations, he adds.
Van der Westhuizen, who has been actively involved in the profession since 1982 and services a wide spectrum of clientele, has been a strong supporter of online CPD services and it is for this reason he has stepped forward as an advocate for both SAAA and AO’s development programmes.
He says that the quality and longevity of both SAAA and AO’s learner content, as well as the ease of access and the cost and time effective method of presentation such as webinars and online lectures, has made it much easier for his team members – and for professionals as a whole – to remain informed, updated and relevant with business trends and regulation.
“It is important for us to keep our skills fresh and instill new ones through ongoing professional development, he says, “without wasting valuable time traveling to physical locations or sacrificing meeting opportunities with existing or new clients. It also allows us to service our traditional business lines, while still learning of new ways to expand the practice.”
Van der Westhuizen is specifically referring to AO’s Business Rescue Certificate, which allows for accountants to qualify and register as Practitioners with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, thus opening up a new revenue stream for their businesses.
Van der Westhuizen also speaks highly of SAAA’s new subscription based programme for Business Accountants in Practice, which includes monthly compliance and legislation updates and monthly webinars covering all the latest changes and updates in auditing, accounting, tax, SA Revenue Services operations, CIPC requirements, as well as labour and other corporate laws.
“For a fraction of the price and in the comfort of our own boardroom we as a firm can take advantage of these information sharing initiatives in real-time, but also have the option to revisit the content at a later stage and/or discuss its business context as a team,” he says. “We as accountants and as a professional support service, find extreme value in that proposition.”
“Although it is mandated by law and professional organisations at its core it is a personal responsibility of professionals to keep their knowledge and skills current so that they can deliver the high quality of service that safeguards the public and meets the expectations of customers and the requirements of their profession,” van der Westhuizen concludes.