Chartered Accountants dominate business leadership

Many of the greatest South African entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Ivan Glasenberg, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, Stephen Koseff, Sizwe Nxasana, Brian Joffe, Stephen Saad  and Whitey Basson, are qualified chartered accountants.

This fact was highlighted by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in releasing a survey which showed that bean counters dominate leadership position within the South African mainstream commercial sector.

“No qualifications or professional designations enjoy the same reputation or offers the same career opportunities to aspirant captains of industry, corporate achievers and dynamic entrepreneurs as the CA(SA) has proven as demonstrable route towards becoming a responsible business leader in South Africa,” says SAICA’s CEO Matsobane Matlwa.

The survey showed that CAs (SA) continue to dominate the directorships of South Africa’s largest listed companies. It was undertaken through perusal of the qualifications of board directors of the 200 largest companies listed on the JSE.

The survey reveals that 35% of the 2215 directorships are held by CAs(SA). This is a slight increase on the 2010 figure of 32.3%.

As can be expected CAs(SA) also dominate the lead finance role in listed companies, with almost nine out of 10 (89.6%) finance directors or chief financial officers having qualified as chartered accountants. This represents a significant increase from the last survey in 2010 when 78% of finance directors had qualified as chartered accountants.

“Companies trying to survive and thrive have turned to the advanced financial management skills of CAs(SA) to steer them through the toughest economic times of our generation,” said  Matlwa.

“Business leadership in troubled times is not just about controls, tax or ratios – though these are important – it is about a grasping and managing risks and strategic opportunity. This is why CAs(SA) also dominate the chief executive function in South Africa with three out of 10 (29.7%) listed company leaders also having achieved the qualification.”

CAs(SA) significantly outnumber the next most popular designation, the MBA, amongst board directors. Amongst chief executives, MBAs account for 18.8% [CAs(SA) 29.7%], 3.8% of finance directors [CAs(SA) 89.6%], and 14.5% of all directorships [CAs(SA) 32.3%].

“Interestingly,” added Matlwa “55.6% of the 108 JSE directorships held by under 40 years old directors are CAs(SA), compared to 12% held by MBA’s, suggesting that young high-flyers who qualify as CAs(SA) are more likely to be considered for leadership positions at a relatively young age.”

“The CA(SA) designation specifically attracts the most talented and ambitious individuals with mathematics skills and offers them continuous all-round business training which goes far beyond accountancy and auditing by also emphasising dynamic business leadership,” added Matlwa.

CAs(SA) are world renowned for exemplifying the highest professional standards with the World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competitiveness Index once again ranking South Africa number 1 for the strength of its auditing and financial reporting standards.

“High standards are always in high demand from business,” said Matlwa. “With at least seven years of rigorous academic and extensive practical training, it is no accident that the CA(SA) designation is so highly regarded in South Africa and internationally.”

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