Exploring the world of SAICA and the CA(SA) designation

Exploring the world of SAICA and the CA(SA) designation

What is SAICA? 

The South African Institute Of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. It was established in 1982 as a result of the merger between the South African Society of Accountants (SASA) and the Institute of Accountants and Auditors (IAA). 

This led to an era of change in the South African professional accounting world.

The CA(SA) designation offered by SAICA is recognized globally in every sector of business and finance. It opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

SAICA  is one of the largest accounting bodies with nearly 48,000 CA(SA) members worldwide.

It offers three reputable professional accounting and business designations; Accounting Technician[AT(SA)], Associate General Accountant [AGA(SA)], and Chartered accountant [ CA(SA)]. 

These three degrees are governed under the Code of Professional Conduct otherwise known as The SAICA code. They make sure that the highest level of professionalism, discipline, and performance is maintained. 

The profession of a professional accountant is very well respected in South Africa as it is a lucrative career to follow. 

The roles of SAICA

The ethics committee of SAICA makes sure that the accounting body and its members maintain their professionalism and confidentiality regarding their careers. 

The Ethics committee’s functions and responsibilities are,

1) Maintenance of the Code of Professional Conduct for Chartered Accountants (the Code):

  • This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring, considering, and responding to proposed modifications to the Code published by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA); 
  • Ensuring that the Code contains appropriate additional guidance relevant to South African context, and making recommendations to SAICA’s Board concerning amendments to the Code.

2) Provision of leadership on behalf of SAICA in:

  • Ethics-related communication
  • Education and guidance
  • Considering, developing, and proposing appropriate means of educating members, trainee accountants, and accounting students.
  • Communicating with them, and maintaining their awareness of ethical issues.

3) Monitoring, considering, and addressing emerging ethical issues:

  • It addresses ethical issues that are relevant to the public interest of SAICA and its members.
  • In addition, the Committee monitors and looks at ethical issues arising from the disciplinary processes and proceedings of SAICA, as well as (to the extent that information is available and SAICA members are involved) other professional and regulatory bodies.

Also Read

It takes a lot of time, (approx. 7 years) and determination to become a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. However these 10 CA (SA) pulled through even when the situation looked bleak.

Becoming a CA in South Africa

  1. To become a CA in South Africa you will need a level 5 pass certification (60 – 69% in Matric certificate) in mathematics, together with a National Senior Certificate with Matriculation exemption. 
  2. A point to keep in mind is that you will have to take pure mathematics and not mathematical literacy as a subject and you need to pass it with over 60% marks.
  3. You need to have good English Vocabulary as it will help you understand the concepts better.   
  4. It must be noted that having accounting as a school subject in school is not necessarily required, however, it is preferred if you want to pursue CA.
  5. To qualify as a CA you need to ensure that the university you are applying to offers a B. Com qualification program that is recognised by SAICA. 
  6. After completing 3 years of Bachelor's degree you will have to obtain a postgraduate diploma in accounting, which is equivalent to doing Honors. You will have to do it in the fourth year of university. 
  7. It is a postgraduate course that focuses on Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, and Financial Management. It takes a minimum of one year to complete and must be completed at a SAICA-recognised university. 
  8. Go to www.saica.co.za for a complete list of accredited universities offering postgraduate qualifications.
  9. Once you have your B. Com degree as well as your diploma you have to work at a SAICA-registered office/firm for three years to gain practical experience.  
  10. Additionally, you would have to clear the Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) exam.

If you pass every exam in the first go, then the entire CA (SA) qualification process will take around 7 years. 

Congratulations! Now you have become a Chartered Accountant in South Africa.

Career options available for Chartered Accountants

Once you have obtained the necessary qualifications as an accountant, a wide range of career paths become available to you.

Companies of various sizes greatly value individuals with the fundamental skills to effectively manage their finances. 

As a chartered accountant, there are numerous roles you can pursue including:

  1. Auditor: Auditors examine a company's financial statements to ensure accuracy and compliance with legal requirements.
  2. Staff Accountant: Staff Accountants handle tasks such as tax preparation, financial reporting, bookkeeping, and budget management for a company.
  3. Forensic Accountant: Forensic Accountants specialize in investigating cases of fraud and other instances of financial mismanagement.
  4. Tax Accountant: Tax Accountants specialize in tax legislation and work to optimize a company's tax liabilities by leveraging available deductions and other strategies.
  5. Finance Manager: Finance Managers are responsible for overseeing the financial well-being of an organization. They manage financial reporting, and investments, and ensure compliance with tax and financial regulations.

These roles offer diverse opportunities for accountants to apply their skills and contribute to the financial success and compliance of businesses.

Largest Employers for Accountants in South Africa

In addition to the prominent "Big Four" accounting firms, namely Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC there are other sizable accounting organizations in South Africa.

There is a significant demand for individuals with accounting expertise in banks and other major businesses, and governmental entities, particularly the office of the auditor general and the SA Revenue Services.

To explore the current job opportunities, as well as graduate recruitment and other programs offered by some of South Africa's largest accounting firms, you can refer to the following links:

Also Read

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The road to Chartered Accountancy is not easy 

Melvin Mdabula went from success to failure to then again success, on his way to qualifying as a CA (SA).

Melvin shares, “After passing the CA (SA) foundation programme, in 2004 I enrolled in B.Com Accounting at the University of Johannesburg. When I finished my articles in 2014, I did a self-introspection and decided to take a 2-year break from my studies. I had burned out.

I started my CTA again in 2017 through Monash University, part-time. It took me 9 years to just pass the Honours (CTA). When I finally qualified as a CA, it was so surreal."

Sedzani's childhood days weren't also all rainbows and sunshine. She had to overcome many failures.

She recalls, "After completing my Bachelor’s of business science in June 2011, I enrolled for a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting Sciences (also known as CTA Level 1). However, I couldn't clear CTA level 1. 

I decided to do certification in fraud examination (CFE) from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners instead.

Having completed CFE, I went back to UNISA in 2014 to do my Honours (postgraduate) in Advanced Accounting Sciences (CTA level 1) which I completed that year, finally.

I continued with my studies and started my article training at Grant Thornton. Eventually, I passed CTA Level 2 after the backbreaking grind and completed my Postgraduate. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Now I had two board exams to complete to qualify as a CA(SA). I did so after coming across a few roadblocks and received the results in Feb 2019. I was now a qualified CA(SA)."

The journey would not be smooth, but you have got to pull through. 


Q. How long does it take to become a CA SA?

If you complete the exams in one go then it will take 7 years to qualify as a CA 

Q. What is the difference between ACCA and SAICA?

A CA(SA) is a local qualification, whereas ACCA is an international qualification.

Q.  How much does it cost to study CA in South Africa?

The fee can be as little as R3400 to R3740 per subject including tuition, and study material.

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