Meet this South African CA Peter Magner who is empowering hundreds of entrepreneurs by providing clouding accounting services

  • Hi, I am Peter Magner, a Chartered Accountant registered with SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants).
  • I certainly didn’t think I was going to become a chartered accountant, in fact, circumstances led me to pursue CA.
  • After qualifying as a CA, I realized that my passion lay with people, teaching, and also solving problems!
  • Around the same time, my brother (who is also a CA) had just started a cloud accounting business so I decided to see if he needed help.
  • Almost 7.5 years later, we have grown Iridium Business Solutions from strength to strength empowering hundreds of entrepreneurs to create a better future for Africa.
  • Here is my journey so far.

A walk down memory lane 

I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, and have lived there for most of my life, as the youngest brother of three.

Growing up I was not very academically orientated, but I always excelled in Maths as I had an affinity for numbers.

I loved sports more though, I played football, rugby, cricket, and everything else I possibly could.

My parents got divorced when I was just over a year old and when I was starting my high school career my dad left South Africa, for good. This was a particularly tough time for me as a young boy.

I spent the last three years of high school trying to prove to my dad that I was good enough, hoping that he would come back to South Africa.

This was a turning point in my life, as it motivated and helped me to achieve 7 distinctions, including 98% for Mathematics and Accounting!

Circumstances that led me to pursue CA

Fast forward, after school, I took a gap year and moved to England. This was my first trip outside of South Africa, I traveled a lot, exploring various countries and cultures in and around Europe.

Around this time, I also tried to figure out what career would best suit me.

Considering the fact that I was great with numbers, I was torn between Actuarial Science and Chartered Accountancy.

After many deep conversations (and drinks!), I decided that my passion for people would be best suited in CA and the business space.

I also wanted to do something that would allow me to provide for my future family.

Once I returned to South Africa, I started my journey towards becoming CA (SA), the registered designation under the governing body of SAICA....and there has been no turning back.

Nurturing my passion taught me things outside the scope of CA

During my CA training contract and university days, I got heavily involved in touch rugby, in the local leagues and I was very keen on developing this sport further.

I spent most of my weekends, lunch breaks, and evenings helping grow the brand WP Touch.

I made marketing plans, financial plans, etc. I loved doing it. It gave me the opportunity to engage with lots of people and help them grow their passion for the game.

This helped me better understand marketing, people, managing teams, etc…it taught me things outside the scope of CA but yet so relevant to be successful.

Against all odds – qualifying as a CA in 2013

My journey towards becoming a CA was not all smooth sailing.

Towards the end of my third year of studying, I was involved in a freak accident.

Over the next year, I had two operations and several hours of physio before I was able to walk properly. My friends and family were amazing and really helped me through this very tough time in my life.

My training contract was fun but very hectic.

Towards the end of my training contract, I took on too much responsibility and work, I ended up burning myself out.

I was fortunate enough to have an incredible manager who, along with the HR department, let me take a few weeks off to get some help and recover.

Without their help, I would never have completed my training contract or become a CA.

In 2013, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

Quitting my job to take an entrepreneurial route

During my training contract, I realized that my passion lay with people, teaching, and also solving problems!

I planned to find a job in the Training and Technical Department of a company. Although I found this job, I realized that my work focused more on internal audit than training, so after two months I quit.

My brother had just started a cloud accounting business, Iridium Business Solutions, so I decided to see if he needed help (my brother is also a Chartered Accountant).

Building the cloud accounting business with my brother

From day one our aim was to empower entrepreneurs to create a better future for Africa and we knew technology could help their businesses thrive.

We were fortunate enough to start the company without any legacy systems and were able to build it from the ground up using cloud technology. However, we did start out with paper files and desktop programs like Microsoft Excel and Word.

We moved our entire team off Microsoft Office by simply deleting it off everyone’s computers and replaced it with GSuite. When one is left with no alternative, one adapts very quickly.

Within 3 months, we moved our entire client base of over 100 away from paper-based files, and onto using Receipt Bank.

Together, we grew the business from strength to strength using cloud technology like Xero and our knowledge as CAs as our secret weapons.

We’re not your typical accounting business. We rather see ourselves more as a Tech startup. Our team of 23 (soon to be 33 in January 2021) on average is aged 27.

Questions I get asked most often.

"Has Technology Become the Backbone of Accounting and Finance?"

Rapidly changing technology is certainly causing the accounting and finance world to think differently about how they are doing business.

We can no longer do things the same way that we have always done and expect to keep our clients.

Business owners and entrepreneurs want faster information and more insights. Their accountants have to educate themselves to keep up with the changing trends.

Technological changes are giving smaller businesses the ability to provide better services at a lower overall cost. Businesses that would have failed a few years ago are able to thrive now.

It also means that you need to constantly adapt, learn, and adopt.

We work with well over 20 different applications within our business and are adding to our tech stack all the time. There are so many incredible tech solutions out there that are solving business problems and it is up to the next generation of accountants to help navigate these technologies for the benefit of our clients.

"How Can CAs And Finance Professionals Be A Part of This Tech Evolution?”

Do not think twice. Be a part of this Tech Evolution and keep yourself updated!

Start learning now! There is an abundance of information online that you can read, watch and absorb.

Start connecting with people who are tech-savvy. I am constantly growing my network of professionals and learning from them.

Attend conferences and webinars.

Many of the finance and accounting conferences focus on the growing wave of technology in accounting and finance.

Ask questions! You’ll be surprised how willing people are to share their knowledge about technology.

In Conclusion….

It is up to each one of us to step back up, take hold of the opportunities that lie ahead of us, and hold on with every fiber of our being.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown, but rather embrace it for in the unknown lies knowledge and opportunity.

Technology is changing the way we do business and life, don’t let yourself be left behind.

Iridium Business Solutions We love to streamline business processes through the use of integrated cloud solutions and are always searching for better ways to help improve our clients' businesses.  

(Article edited by Chantal Potgieter AGA (SA) and image by Ankit Lodhi)

Sign up for The Finance Story Fortnightly newsletter

Inspiration, Learnings, Knowledge in your in-box

Get stories delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.
Learning Learning Partner Partner
Which Dell Technologies offerings do you wish to know more about?

Book 1:1 call with industry expert