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Lower pass rate back-ups how tough CA qualification standards are

Last Updated Feb 2019

Johannesburg, Friday, 15 February 2019 - The results of the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) – the final hurdle in the seven year (minimum) Chartered Accountancy qualification journey – released today yielded critical insight into the quality of newly qualified CAs(SA) being produced for business. While the results reflect a decline in the pass rate, which stands at 68% for the 2018 November APC cohort, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) says it demonstrates how high the professional standards of prospective Chartered Accountants (CAs[SA]) must be if they wish to qualify.

In November 2018, a total of 3 037 candidates sat for the APC, the highest figure recorded for the second and final of SAICA’s professional exams since its inception five years ago. Today, 2 080 received the news that they were competent and had therefore passed their final professional assessment and were now one step closer to the coveted CA(SA) designation.

‘On behalf of SAICA, I’d like to congratulate the class of 2018! To pass the APC, one must illustrate one’s practical ability to use and apply technical, professional and ethical knowledge in a real business world context. By passing the APC, these candidates have shown that they have the competencies and attitude that business expects entry level CAs(SA) to demonstrate when they enter the working world upon completing all qualification requirements to become a CA(SA),’ says Mandi Olivier, Senior Executive of Professional Development at SAICA.

High standards of professionalism and competence

Commenting on the declining pass rate, Olivier says that while, on the face of it, it may seem negative, it is proof of SAICA’s continued commitment to producing CAs(SA) of the highest standard:

‘The APC is a competency-based assessment that places emphasis on candidates’ ability to demonstrate their pervasive (ethics, personal attributes and professional) skills in the context of a multi-disciplinary case study which asks candidates to respond to real-life tasks expected of entry level CAs(SA). In addition to assessing whether candidates demonstrate professional competence when providing their responses to the case study, the assessment is also designed to evaluate their behaviour during the case study period. To pass, candidates must therefore demonstrate both technical competence as well as show that they can apply the pervasive skills which include the profession’s values of governance, transparency and “doing the right thing”’.

12 exceptional candidates honoured

‘What is particularly satisfying,’ adds Oliver, ‘is the number and diversity of the 12 candidates who earned a place on SAICA’s prestigious APC Honours Roll*. SAICA is delighted to see the wide range of training backgrounds its Honours Roll candidates have come from. This once again highlights the multi-disciplinary nature of the assessment as well as the strength of SAICA’s training framework.’

Those candidates, in alphabetical order (by surname), are:

Name    Surname Training Office    Professional Programme Provider

Richard

Champion

Nedbank

APT

Megan

De Vries

Ernst & Young

APT

Adam

Dixon-Warren

Deloitte LLP (London)

UCT

Philippa

Henry

Bain & Company SA

UCT

Michael

Mills

KPMG

APT

Gizelle

Potgieter

Deloitte

APT

Nirish

Rama

KPMG

UCT

Gregory

Rowan

Nedbank

UCT

Bernice

Taljaard

Shoprite Checkers

APT

Lauren

Van der Byl

KPMG

APT

Julian

Vorster

PricewaterhouseCoopers

APT

Celso

Zuccollo

Deloitte LLP (London)

UCT

*SAICA’s APC Honours Roll is made up of candidates who demonstrate exceptional performance and show the greatest insight into the way they complete the case study tasks.

An opportunity to address gaps

Olivier cautions that the pass rate must be looked at in context since the number of candidates who passed the 2018 APC is only slightly lower than the previous year’s (2018: 2 080; 2017: 2 168).

She adds that the lower pass rate is also ‘a reflection of various factors including the significant increase in the number of repeat candidates who sat in November, as well as the quality of prospective CAs(SA) coming out of South Africa’s disruptive tertiary environment.’

‘We are disappointed with the pass rate being lower than the prior year but in some ways expected this result because of the changing nature of the candidate population. As the registered professional body we will be engaging with SAICA training offices as well as the Professional Programme Providers to identify the core reasons behind this drop in pass rates and look at ways to rectify these through structured interventions, ‘concludes Olivier.

About SAICA
SAICA, South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as associate general accountants [AGAs(SA)] and accounting technicians [ATs(SA)], who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.

SAICA Media Contact
Ms Karin Jacobsen
Project Manager: Marketing and Communications (SAICA Nation Building Division)

Tel: 011 621 6913
Email: karinj@saica.co.za

Mr Kulani Chauke
Corporate Communications Co-Ordinator, Marketing & Communications (SAICA) Tel: 011 479 0698
Email: kulanic@saica.co.za