This is why I chose ACCA – Reneilwe Ntshwarang

acca_linkedinblogimageOne of the main reasons why I chose ACCA was because of the flexibility of the qualification. The ACCA qualification will increase my career progression opportunities and not limit me to one line of work. I now have the opportunity to branch into any industry or field within the world of finance.

 

ACCA’s global recognition will open up international opportunities and give employers the confidence that they can place me in a broad range of demanding situations with certainty that I will undertake my duties professionally, effectively and competently.

 

What kept me motivated throughout my journey?

 

Attitude determines your altitude. I’ve always lived by; “if you have the right attitude, you are half way there”! The rest you can learn. What has kept me driven is my attitude and hunger to learn and grow and is definitely what takes me through the long study hours. I set a goal and I put my all to in ensure I achieve it. It’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice but it is worth it in the end.

 

Editor’s note: We would like to thank Reneilwe on her top achievement. Reneilwe will soon join many ACCA Members achieving global greatness.

ACCA and GCRA Partner to Education 250 Learners

ACCA joins hands with the Gauteng City Regional Academy in the bid to challenge some pertinent issues that face the SA environment. The partnership seeks to make the best use of the online learning tool that has been developed by ACCA, commonly known as ACCA-X, for the transformation of the lives of youth that have matriculated but find themselves excluded from further education and training or employment for various reasons.

250 learners from the 5 corridors of Gauteng will be taken through the programme for a year commencing in April. The ACCA-X programme is the ideal starting point for future business leaders, accountants and entrepreneurs. It consists of four online learning modules designed to develop knowledge and skills, at foundation level, in financial and management accounting.

Upon completion of the four modules (Introductory and Intermediate Certificates in Financial and Management Accounting), learners will be equipped to perform a range of accounting administration roles within an accounting department of a larger organization or financial shared service center.

This programme comes just in time to deal with the shortage of accountants in the country and also to support the promotion of entrepreneurship in youth.  Details of the launch date are as follows:

Date: 31 March

Venue: University of Johannesburg (Auditorium room number to be confirmed)

Time: 9am -12pm

Event details: 100 of the 250 learners and their parents will be present, as well as the Gauteng MEC for Education and the ACCA Sub Saharan Markets director, Mr Jamil Ampomah.

Generation Y Changes Finance Stereotypes

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If change is inevitable, then the ability to adapt to it is paramount. Gen Y is suited up and ready to enter the office to take up their roles as finance professionals. But what should be expected by corporates as they set up a platform for this generation.

The image that comes to mind when the words ‘finance professional’ are mention is of a strict gentleman or woman in a black suit that smells of strong black coffee with shiny black shoes. The walls of their offices are decorated with certificates that attest to the achievements of the professional. A thinker that loves silence, meetings and charts that outline plans spanning 20 years. Generation Y brings a different image though. The ACCA report titled Generation Y: Realising the potential, highlights the fact that the pool of talent for HR personnel has changed, Gen Y forms the majority of the talent and HR personnel and CFOs cannot use the same barometer to gauge the potential of this new generation.

The ‘selfie’ generation has a different outlook on life and they require that this outlook be married to all their activities including their work life. Barrie Bramley, Curious Disruptor at Calidascope, points out that unlike baby boomers, this generation place value in freedom. This can be seen in their attachment to their mobile devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. They do not believe that they should be in the office to do their work, they believe that technology allows them to work from anywhere at any time. “It is not uncommon for this Gen Y to ask their managers for flexible business hours, or to go work on a project outside the office”, said Bramley. “It is managers that will be willing to negotiate such terms with this cohort that will get the best out of this generation”.

Gen Y does not put much value on titles, they believe in adding value. “In this age when you know enough, you are qualified enough”, said Bramley, “this generation is very informed and they have a peculiar ability to absorb information that serves them well in business. They are also colourful, they are loud and believe that this should work together in expressing themselves in their roles at work. In her book, Knowing Y: Engage the Next Generation Now, marketing and media expert Sarah Sladek lists 5 motivations that drive this generation and make them so different from the previous generations:

  • 92 percent believe that business success should be measured by more than salary
  • 80 percent prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews
  • 61 percent feel personally responsible to make a difference in the world
  • 50 percent want to start their own business, or have already done so
  • 2 years is their average employment tenure

Bramley suggests that there is a shift in wisdom in the corporate world, that while Baby Boomers were able to take us to where we are now, Gen Y will be able help reach greater heights. “This is the case of ‘two rights’ that need to be amalgamated, it is not that Baby Boomers were doing it wrong, and it is not that Gen Y is juvenile and should silence their voices”, commented Bramley on the different approaches to business Gen Y and Baby Boomers have in the office.

It is HR managers and CFOs that can be willing to invest in knowing the motivations of this generation that most benefit from it. Personnel is the business’ most valuable asset, the right candidate will do wonders for the business’ bottom-line.

Entrepreneurial Activity in Africa: Mentorship

As South Africa celebrates youth month, it is only relevant to look at the development of these “future leaders”. Entrepreneurship has had positive results for countries that found themselves in negative economic rubble, it was through the encouragement of this spirit that most of them emerged from this. The same medicine has been prescribed for the African continent, our country has erected the Small Business Ministry with this in mind. But what can the corporate world do to offer the correct resources to bring us to our desired end?

“Never have I seen further than when I stood on the shoulders of giants”, this old-age adage takes form in Ashish J Thakkar’s words (the founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation) when commenting on the African youth’s activity in entrepreneurship, “I frequently meet with entrepreneurs all over Africa, and my first question is always, “Look, what can I do for you?” They never tell me that money is their primary need—what they are really looking for is guidance. Many young African entrepreneurs are the children of civil servants or farmers. They don’t come from business backgrounds, so where can they turn for advice?”

Although the lack of funds and limited education are often noted as barriers by the youth looking to venture into entrepreneurship, it seems that mentorship and guidance are demanded more. But how should CFOs and business managers approach mentorship?

www.chronus.com offer the following steps as a guideline to setting up a mentoring programme:

  • Design Your Mentoring Program

The starting point for any mentoring program begins with two important questions:

  • Why are you starting this program?
  • What does success look like for participants and the organization?

To answer these questions you will need to dive deep to understand your target audience. Make sure you understand who they are, where they are, their development needs, and their key motivations to participate. Translate your vision into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound

  • Attract Participants for Your Mentoring Program

The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and training.

When new mentoring programs are introduced in organizations, there is generally natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. A common reason is the absence of effective promotion. Don’t assume potential mentors and mentees understand the benefits. For many, this will be their first opportunity to participate in mentoring. You will need to convince them that participating is worth their time and effort.

  • Connect Mentors and Mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match.

Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another.

Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you’ll offer in your program: self-matching or admin-matching. Consider giving mentees a say in the matching process by allowing them to select a particular mentor or submit their top three choices. Self-matching is administrative light, which in larger programs can be a huge plus.

  • Guide Mentoring Relationships

Now that your participants are enrolled, trained, and matched, the real action begins.

It is also where mentoring can get stuck. Left to themselves, many mentorships will take off and thrive. But some may not. Why? Because mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to a successful mentoring program

  • Measure Your Mentoring Program

Understanding how your program measures up to expectations may well be the most important phase of all.

Mentoring programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes: the program, the mentoring connection, and the individual. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.

Companies that set-up mentorship programmes will reap a myriad of rewards, one of them is that they are guaranteed that skills are trickled down to new personnel and this will ensure the retention of proper skills in the company. The second benefit that relates to entrepreneurship is that more youth will have the opportunity to impact positively the economy of the country.

Women Work for Free for Four Months of the Year

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While research shows that complete gender equality, with the efforts being put in now, will only be possible in 2095, the gender pay gap will only be totally bridged in 50 years.

Despite the benefits of gender equality released through research results yearly, the gender pay gap has widened over the years. In South Africa the gap between males and females is standing at 35%. This means that females get in a year what males get in eight months – meaning women work for free for four months as opposed to their male peers.

There are several factors that contribute to this gap widening. The ACCA report, gender diversity to boost business performance, highlights the lack of commitment from companies to gender equality. This one barrier is by far the most contributor. “Women with a degree earn on average 30% less than their male peers with similar levels of education, whereas the gap is lower for those with a basic or high-school education”, says Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group. In the past the pay gap was attributed to differences in skills and the experience women brought to the labour market; research shows that women that have the similar skills and the same qualifications still earn less than their male peers.

The pay gap seems to widen with age. The WageIndicator survey indicates that women under 25 years the gender pay gap is 15%. Between the ages of 25 and 34 years, it widens to 19%. This widening trend accelerates in the middle-age group (35-50 years) to reach 25%. Finally, during the later years of their working career, the earnings gap widens at a slower rate, with women over 50 experiencing a pay gap of 27%.

According to the World Economic Forum, closing the male-female employment gap would have huge economic benefits, boosting GDP by as much as 16%. By drawing on the full complement of available talent at all levels of the organisation, particularly in top leadership teams, companies have been shown to produce better financial results, particularly as opportunities grow in the knowledge economy. It makes sound business sense for pay inequality and job barriers for women to be removed.

There is an influx of females entering the finance profession; approximately half of ACCA students are female. The growing numbers of women accountants and their ever growing influence is perhaps most keenly evident among ACCA students and members in Singapore, where a staggering 75% are estimated to be female. It is imperative that this team entering the field finds the ground cultivated, females have proven their ambition and their ability to produce profitable results as much as their male peers. It is only fair that they get the same remuneration.

If research results have proven the link between women participation and improved financial performance then this gap is not just an issue of compliance, but it has become a moral issue that needs to be looked into and amended quickly.

Is Gender Equality Still an Issue?

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In a country like South Africa that is known for its ability to embrace transformation, is gender diversity in the workplace still an issue?

The MasterCard Index results seem to show that gender equality in South Africa still needs major improvement. It highlights that there are still more men in leadership positions that women. The index suggests that for every 100 men, there are 57.5 women in business leadership roles in organisations; and that for every 100 males, there are 25.5 women that own their own businesses.

As alarming as this is, are there benefits that businesses can enjoy by embracing more women participation in senior management? According to an ACCA report titled Increasing gender diversity to boost performance there are many benefits for organisations that choose to embrace this. The report says that organisations that lack a gender balance are unrepresentative of the society in which they operate, because women make up roughly half the population.

Research studies have found a link between more gender-diverse company boards and better financial performance. South Africa’s mining sector has the best level of female representation on boards, according to a recent report released by PwC. “Research shows that there is a strong correlation between financial performance and the participation of women on boards,” says Gerald Seegers, PwC Director for Human Resources Services, Southern Africa.

In light of the information from the research it becomes clear that companies that take gender diversity seriously benefit, not because the regulators require this, but because gender diversity affects their bottom-line. Helen Brand, the ACCA chief executive, says, “[Gender] Inequality is a genuine business risk and should be treated as such”.

The finance sector has an important role to play in promoting and supporting diversity initiatives. CFOs can act as role models and use their ‘top table’ status to influence the corporate diversity strategies and action by other functions.

Gender equality in the South African business place still needs major improvements. Though they help, it is not regulations that will bring transformation, but it is organisations that understand the benefits of gender diversity that will reap the most rewards.