Challenges facing the Chartered Accountancy profession
Since the gazetting of the CA Charter in May 2011, firms have had two periods in which to submit their scorecard information. One of the major challenges that the CA Charter Council faced was the apprehension from some spheres of the sector, who, prior to this, had never had to do anything related to BEE as a great part of our sector constitutes small firms that are usually managed by a single person. Most firms questioned the need for a sector charter specific to the CA sector and the impact that this would have on the profession as a whole. However the secretariat, with the support of the Charter Council, sought to encourage firms to report and emphasized that the reporting process was not about compliance but rather about the trends that exist in the sector as whole. Firms were also reassured that their information would not be used to prejudice them and that no individual information would be highlighted but that the information would be consolidated to reflect the trends that are prevalent in the sector in each of the specific elements.
During the 2011 reporting period, the rate of firms who submitted their scorecard information was a low 30.5% in comparison to what was expected, despite firms being given various opportunities and extensions to submit their information. However in the 2012 reporting period, submission rates from firms increased dramatically to a 57.22% response rate. The Council is pleased with this response from firms as it is evidence that the interventions that were set in place to ensure better cooperation from firms are indeed bearing fruit.
The Council still faces the challenge of firms being unwilling to submit information that is deemed sensitive. This has resulted in firms reporting against the elements where they score the maximum points and therefore resulting in a very low score in the elements that are not reported against. With the proposed changes in the Codes of Good practice and the requirements for QSE's, in particular, to report against all elements, this could see a more balanced reporting from firms with adequate information being reported against all elements.
Despite the number of challenges that have been faced since the gazetting of its Charter, the CA Sector still remains far ahead of its counterparts. Thus far, the CA sector remains the only sector that has its own secure online platform where firms are able to report their detailed scorecard information. Through the cooperation of firms who have complied with submitting their information, the Council is able to make significant inferences regarding transformation in the CA Sector and is further able to confidently attest to the fact that the strides that have been made by all industries that are relevant to the CA Sector, are contributing towards transforming the sector.