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.

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.

The future of the young CFOs

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In this post we borrow the age-old adage from the wisdom of conservationists, as they observed that, We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

It would seem that ACCA had this adage in mind when we released our latest report entitled ‘Carbon Accounting for Small Businesses: How Accountants Can Help Everyone Be Greener’. In the report ACCA engages with its students seeking to understand their expectations about their future and how they think the future will affect the finance profession. The deterioration in natural resources, the instability of financial markets and the explosion in global population came under scrutiny when ACCA conducted a survey that saw 4 500 of its students from all over the world offer their opinions. The findings of this survey varied from continent to continent, but they all led to one conclusion. 81% of the students believe that the deterioration in natural resources would have the most impact on businesses in 2024. While in the Africa, South Asia and Western Europe, 70% of students believe that the growth in global population would have the most impact in business. 67% of respondents in the Caribbean and Africa believe that the instability in financial markets would leave its effects in business operating there.

In this ever evolving world of business, the CFO stumbles upon another reason to redefine his role and adapt in order to be a better contributor in business. In the anticipation of the pressures of the future, Ewan Willars said, “The ACCA finance professionals of the future see the next 10 years as being one of change – they know that as finance professionals they will have to do more to provide businesses with more decision-making insight than now – such as forecasting and reporting on what might happen in the future, rather than recording what has happened”. The CFO’s is required to observe the world he lives in, absorb as much information as possible and see how his work can improve these factors. “The macro global trends are a major factor in the financial professional’s role”, says, Karen Smal, Acting Head of ACCA South Africa, “a CFO cannot ignore socio-economic, environmental and all factors that impact a financial professional whether now or in the future”.

The survey engaged with students that will be active players in the economy in the future. It is this cohort that needs encouragement to adopt accounting for sustainability; they need to be taught earlier on in their young careers to approach the financial discipline understanding that their role has to positively impact the world around them.

The Finance of Balancing Leadership

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The dawn of the digital age has given rise to an important skillset requirement, which effectively provides CFO’s with the ability to master the art of financial leadership. This skillset can only be learnt from gaining industry experience, interaction with industry associations and networking with others that share the same vision. Further it is up to educational institutes, organisations and mentors to identify and aid the #CFO transition to becoming an effective financial leader.

 

At the recently held #CFO South Africa roundtable (www.cfo.co.za), participants agreed that in order to succeed in the field of finance an awareness of leadership skills required, is vital. Further a keen understanding of the industry and an acknowledgment that the industry is shifting will assist in mastering the art of financial leadership. The participants further believe that the CFO’s focus is shifting from traditional bean counting practises to business success through leadership strategies.

 

 “The art of balancing financial leadership comes to play when CFO’s have to maintain industry compliancy levels, whilst pushing the bar on financial targets and corporate bottom-line.” – Karen Smal, ACCA South Africa

 

Strategy, strategy, strategy

 

#ACCA recently released a research paper titled Financial Leadership with the single point of main importance as the ability to incorporate your financial strategy into a workable implementation plan. The art of financial leadership is to gain vision, and to anticipate the human factor in every instance within your financial strategy. The skill to lead others and to take leadership to task will draw a clear path to financial and social success. The research paper further reveals that there are distinctive steps that would need to be taken in order to achieve the balancing of financial leadership. These steps along and the balance of the research paper, can be viewed online at the ACCA South African web page; www.accaglobal.com.

 

Halla Tomasdottir, (www.ted.com/talks/halla_tomasdottir) a financial leader in Iceland, who was instrumental in re-building Iceland’s economy since the collapse in 2008, has attributed the following key markers  to attaining and retaining financial balance, they are; Risk Awareness, Straight Talking, Emotional Capital and Profit with Principals. These same markers were discussed at the round table, a point to the concept of globalisation, not only in industry but in financial leadership. South Africans tend to act in isolation, however the point raised at the round table can easily be adapted and integrated into any global strategy. Many of the CFO’s attending the round table have mandates beyond the borders. The concept of a #globalCFO is becoming a reality as many CFO’s share a single vision; gaining business success through balanced financial leadership.

 

 

There is an abundance of #financialtechnology globally that can assist CFO’s in the South African market. If the consensus amongst industry leaders is that the focus is shifting towards leadership opposed to traditional bean counting, then adapting global technology will become ever important. CFO’s would need to develop a strong technological support base alongside an implementation plan which will then allow for the #CFO to focus on balancing financial leadership.

 

ACCA South Africa