As part of the Managing Human Capital in Finance Conference Series 2009-2010, ACCA SA hosted a very successful Employer Conference at the Westcliff Hotel on 29th October. Themed: "Accountants for Business," the conference boasted a record number of 105 attendees.
Head of Business Development, ACCA SA Cindy Parvess opened the conference.
Parvess said ACCA wanted to deliver real solutions, which would help to narrow the financial skills gap in South Africa.
2009 had proved a very good year: student enrolments were up significantly (read the Editor’ Message). Strong relationships have also been built with organisations such as Investec, MTN, Dimension Data, and the City of Johannesburg.
She reminded delegates that they are in good company: "ACCA members include the Auditor Generals of Zambia and Uganda, members of government in Malawi, Kenya, Lesotho, Seychelles and the Vice President of Mauritius."
Parvess said ACCA graduates are much more than boring back-room bean counters: "ACCA graduates understand the developmental imperatives and the impact of their decisions in addressing our socio-economic problems, poverty, joblessness, HIV and Aids and others."
Soft skills, distinguish good bean-counters from great business-savvy Accountants. "Great Accountants have perfected finance to an art, but are also aware of what is happening around them, aware of the business and socio-economic landscape within which they operate. Their strategic insight is what enables them to navigate sustainable business development even through the turbulence of a global economic storm," she explained.
Quinton Simpson, Head of ACCA SA spoke on the topic: "Accountants for Business – adding value, building businesses." Simpson shared recent ACCA research findings, which indicate that accountants are able to contribute to business in five distinct areas: strategy, analysis, operations, custodial and regulation.
Natercia Faustino, Fasset ETQA/Learnership Manager provided insights into the benefits of learnerships. Faustino said: "The biggest benefit from an employer’s perspective is that learnerships provide qualified people, not only from the theoretical, but from a practical perspective".
Jacquie Bosch, Divisional Executive, DAV Professional Placement, addressed the topic: Accountants for Business: recruitment (read the article entitled: "Accountants are now immersed in business").
Political and trend analyst, JP Landman, provided a very thought provoking presentation on the topic: Business 2010 Economic Prospects.
He said "South Africa is not as poorly positioned as people think": "There are a number of very positive developments, including the fact that per capita income has increased by 300% over the last 25 years. Since 1994, a lot of money has gone into job creation. "To say that SA has had jobless growth is nonsense. The labour market has expanded by 44%". He conceded, however, that 400 000 jobs have been shed as a result of the recession.
There has also been a lot of spending on investment: in 2005, 9,5 million people received a cheque from government: this rose to 13 million in 2008; in 2005, 5 cents in every Rand was spent on infrastructural development: this rose to 9,6 cents in 2008; in 1994, 62% of South Africans had access to electricity, in 2009, 91% of SA have access to electricity; in 1993, housing shortages was estimated at 1.6m houses, since then we have built 2.8m houses.
In the short-term Landman expects the economy to continue to grow by 2.5% pa. The population, however, is only expected to grow at around 1%. This trend will enable South Africa to lift the per capita income.
Well-known media personality, and Money Web Editor in Chief, Alec Hogg, tackled the topic: "How is accountancy used in Business Development." Hogg said that if one wanted to understand business, one needed to understand accounting. As investment guru, Warren Buffet has pointed out, "accounting is the language of business".
There has been much concern around the implementation of the Companies Act 71 of 2008. Allaying concerns, Matodzi Ratshimbilani, Director, Edward Nathan Sonnenberg said it was a myth that it is not worth one’s while becoming a director, because the Companies Act makes it so onerous: "The New Companies Act does not bring about any change: it codifies the common law, which has developed over time."
Chris Rea, partner, Sustainability Services spoke on: "Sustainability and its relevance in business". He said the real opportunity for development is through the corporate sector. "Sustainability reporting used to be a nice to have, it now a need to have.
King III means you can no longer talk about financials, without talking about non-financials," Rea reminded.
In 2006 SA was the 9th largest sustainability reporting country in the world: it is now arguably the fifth largest.
Delegates commended ACCA for a very slick, topical and well-balanced conference.
At the end of the conference all attendees concurred, that: like Elvis Presley, many of us many not need bodyguards, but every business, even government, needs highly trained and skilled accountants.