|Mr Vassi Naidoo, CA(SA)|
Interview done in 1 October 2009
BRIEF BACKGROUND QUESTIONS:
When did you qualify as a CA(SA)?
I joined SAICA in 1980 after having written the Board Exam in 1979
How did you qualify as a CA(SA)?
I studied for a Bachelor of Commerce degree full time at the University of Durban – Westville, after which I studied towards a Diploma in Accounting part time also at the University of Durban – Westville. I commenced my articles at Deloitte Haskins & Sells in 1977.
What types of jobs/ roles have you done in your career?
Deloitte is the only company that I have worked for during my career, having done my articles from 1977 to 1980. In 1984 I became a partner and then went on to become CEO of Deloitte & Touché Southern Africa in 1998.
What does your current role entail?
In 2006 I moved to the UK where I am the Global Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte. I am a full equity partner of Deloitte UK and also the Vice Chairman of the UK firm, in addition to serving on the Boards of the Deloitte India and Deloitte Russia firms.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
What advice would you give to up and coming CAs(SA) regarding lifelong learning (CPD)?
CPD to me is about keeping up to date and about continuous improvement. Choosing a profession and using a designation that a profession bestows upon you means that you owe yourself, your professional colleagues and the public at large to stay up to date and maintain your competence. You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of your professional responsibility and your ability to service that responsibility.
It is important to bear in mind that life long learning (CPD) is about asking yourself “What do I want to do?” and not “what I have to do?” in order to maintain and uphold the status of the professional designation
How has CPD/ lifelong learning contributed to your career progression?
Life long learning firstly comes from the individual. It comes from the responsibility to keep up to date and the necessity of being a part of the profession encourages it. I believe that it is easier to perform CPD in public practice because the firms have learning programmes. CPD is crucial and I am in full support of regulating CPD and the CPD policy to monitor compliance, but I do not believe that we should become slaves to rules because life long learning is about What to I want to do to keep up to date and not what do I have to do to keep up to date
What activities do you do or have done that contribute to your life long learning and help you stay ahead and maintain your competitive edge as a CA(SA)?
I do a lot of personal reading. In dealing with client related issues the research that I do in order to service the requests of my clients from an accounting and auditing perspective keeps me up to date. I attend the in house CPD programmes at Deloitte. Also the preparation and reading that is key to my Professorship at the University of Johannesburg enables me to maintain my competitive edge as a CA(SA). On the job training to aspiring Chartered Accountants is key to the development of Chartered Accountants as leaders and in teaching there is a tremendous amount of learning.
How important is it that the public is made aware of the life long learning status of a CA(SA), especially those who utilize the services of a CA(SA)?
I think that it will be a sad day when we have to inform the public with intent that our members are complying with CPD. CAs(SA) bear the burden of public trust. The fact that you hold the designation means that the public assumes that you are competent. If you want to use the designation you have a duty to yourself to keep up to date.
When you go to a heart surgeon, do you have to confirm that he has done his CPD? Would you consult him if he does not comply with CPD? There is a level of intrinsic trust when using his services that he is competent and the same level of trust between the public and the Chartered Accountancy profession needs to exist. The same principle applies to the amount of trust that you place in a pilot when boarding an airplane. Do you inspect his CPD certificate? Would you get on to that plane if you knew that he was not competent to fly?
We need to create a culture of continuous learning to maintain the status of the profession.
What advice would you give to up and coming CAs(SA) regarding life long learning and continuing professional development?
Ask yourself: “Do I think that it is important to do CPD?” and “how am I going to access it?” There are a number of CPD opportunities available to Chartered Accountants for example e-Learning, CPD made available by the big 4 firms, accessing websites such the ICAEW, attendance at SAICA seminars and events reading the Financial Mail, thought leadership articles in ASA etc. You just need to assess what it is that you want to do and where you would like to do your learning. We need to move away from the culture of just ticking the box. It is all about I want to do CPD and not I have to do CPD. You need to embrace the learning programmes in your organisations and if there are no such programmes available to you, you need to show leadership and develop learning programmes if there are none.
The SAICA CPD policy requires that you both do and record your CPD, you have obviously committed to CPD/Lifelong learning as demonstrated in your answers above, what steps do you take to record your CPD as outlined in the policy?
My secretary logs my verifiable CPD on the ICAEW website and also updates this in my outlook diary. Once a year I sit down and reflect on who it is that I have consulted with, what I have read and what I plan to read. I distil what steps have been taken by me in order to solve client queries and this is the also submitted to the ICAEW. Since the detailed record exists in my outlook diary I declare self compliant with SAICA.
Do you believe that the SAICA CPD policy upholds your status as a CA(SA)?
No, a policy cannot do that. I do that for myself but I do recognise the need for regulation in order to ensure that it complied with. CPD is about what do I want to do as opposed to what do I have to do to comply?
What tips can you give to other CAs(SA) regarding CPD?
- Always bear in mind that you want to do CPD and it is right
- Make a personal commitment to record and make use of the administrative tools that are available to you such as your outlook diary.
- Place a reminder in your diary to annually sign off the declaration and also use this opportunity to value and celebrate the fact that you are a CA(SA)
- Remember that you owe it to the public to have done this as ownership of the CA(SA) designation bestows a level of public trust on you.