Adoption of the generic scorecard
In the process of developing a scorecard specifically for the CA profession, the decisions of the participants were first and foremost informed by their determination to use this Sector Code, and the scorecard(s) included herein, to make a difference to the profession and the country in general.
Despite the fact that the CA profession has some unique characteristics that make comparison with other industries such as the IT, mining or financial services sectors incongruous, members of the CA profession were determined to conform to government guidelines regarding the scorecard and all the aspects related to it. The fundamental point of departure was thus to begin with the Generic Scorecard. Any deviations were supported by sound economic principles, unique sectoral characteristics or empirical research.
The most important of these is that while firms in the CA sector may be structured either as sole proprietorships, partnerships or companies, eligibility as an RA is strictly circumscribed by legislation. Ownership and management at the highest levels are bound together neither responsibility nor 'wealth' (which would constitute equity interest in terms of the Codes) may be shared with or sold to individuals who are not RAs. This aspect finds expression in the definitions, which are tailored to circumstances unique to the CA sector.
The uniqueness of the CA sector also extends to its training and development focus: The sector lends itself ideally to being a 'training ground' for future CAs for the country, thereby enhancing the economy and not just the CA sector itself. Therefore, on the one hand, many of the definitions are aimed at building a pipeline of trainees and CAs. On the other hand, however, once qualified CAs choose from a wide variety of employment opportunities in commerce and industry. Although the CA sector may thus be offering opportunities for, and recruiting and training particularly the black CAs, this increase is not reflected in the numbers of qualified black CA(SA)s and RAs that remain in the sector.
A factor that could strongly impact on the goals and targets the CA sector has set for itself, is that the environment in which the CA profession operates is presently subject to far-reaching change. The introduction of two new acts could fundamentally change the way the profession and its constituents operate. The first of these is the Auditing Profession Act, which created a new regulatory organisation, the IRBA. The functions with which the IRBA has been charged have already resulted in changes to the regulatory environment of auditors in particular, and is likely to result in further changes. The profession's response to these changes could in turn impact on the parameters of the CA Sector Code.
The second piece of legislation which is likely to change the environment and functioning of audit firms is the Companies Act No. 71 of 2008 The regulations flowing from this Act will in all probability bring about a fundamental change with regard to the requirements for the audit of companies, in that audits will possibly no longer be mandatory for 'closely held' companies that do not meet the threshold requirements for a 'public interest' company designation.
This is likely to have a fundamental effect on small audit firms, who currently employ the majority of trainees. If such firms no longer perform the audits of closely held companies, it could impact on their ability to comply with accreditation requirements regarding the depth and range of training experience that has to be provided to TIPP trainees. In terms of the CA Sector Code as it stands, small firms are expected to contribute significantly to the CA profession pipeline. Should this contribution decline appreciably, the profession will need to search for innovative ways of dealing with the challenge this will present.