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Zimbabwe chartered accountants body to broaden membership

by Staff Reporter
31 Aug 2012 at 03:40hrs | Views
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), which regulates chartered accountants in the country, is proposing a new membership category that would allow it to control accountants currently unaffiliated to the institute.

The move is a drastic departure from the ICAZ tradition, which has seen the majority of its trainees failing to get membership due to a rigorous examination system. There are fears this could also be resisted by current members, who might view the proposals as likely to diminish the chartered accountant (CA) brand, which has been literally a coveted trophy in Zimbabwe's corporate sector.

ICAZ members are chartered accountants who use the CA(Z) designation against their names.

In a proposal sent to members by the ICAZ chief executive officer, Matthew Kunaka, the institute said it had the "prerogative to work towards the growth and advancement of the profession" in Zimbabwe.

"Statistics from 1990-2011 indicate that the Institute trained 3 123 students. Out of these students, 1√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√ã‚Ć190 became members whereas 1√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√ã‚Ć933      have not yet attained ICAZ membership.

"In addition some of the potential members of this category have stepped into very senior positions in management within commerce and industry.

Against this backdrop, it is evident that ICAZ has sizeable number (62 percent) of former students who are not (yet) members as they are still to complete the examinations requirements," said Kunaka in the document.

He added: "As these are neither members nor students, they represent a group of unregulated but highly experienced professionals.  A number of them are currently working in supporting roles of accounting services and yet they are not affiliated to the institute."

Quoting a World Bank report, Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) on Capacity Building, Kunaka said there were many private colleges and government polytechnics in Zimbabwe that trained students in various diplomas in accounting. The graduates, the report noted, did not belong to any professional body and consequently had no regulated professional identity and therefore did not have what the report called "CPD obligations".

"Some end up doing professional assignments for which they are not qualified and allowed to do because of lack of ethical control. They therefore create reputational risk to the regulated profession and also subject the public to risk of substandard work. They have a very useful role to play in the market if appropriately regulated and directed," the World Bank report said.

Kunaka said the report was "an eye opener to the institute on the need to create a second tier of professional accountants".

"The services of professional accountants remain critical and indispensable to all sectors of the economy. In the light of the World Bank report, a committee to explore the possibilities of launching a second tier membership category was constituted. A survey from potential members to this category was done and the response received was overwhelmingly in favour of the creation of the category," said Kunaka in the proposal.

He said the committee had also checked with other international institutes in Australia, UK, USA, SA and Canada and found that they already had similar categories for non chartered accountants.

"From the investigations, comparisons and further analysis, it was concluded that the institute was in a position to launch a second tier membership category of professional accountants. The target group will be made up of degreed candidates with discharged training contracts. This category is saliently identified by the market as evidenced by the increasing number of 'vacancy adverts' seeking for "General Accountants". They go on to say "having articles will be an added advantage'," said the proposal.

The proposal, which has been put to members for their views, said: "The Institute is sensitive towards the protection of its existence and the CA (Z) brand for it is a revered designation. The CA (Z) brand has and will always be safe-guarded by stringent entry requirements and will not be affected by this new category. However, the new category, will represent accountants with lesser technical expertise compared to the CA(Z) but at the same time represent a highly technical professional, who has over and above their degree qualifications, invaluable training under a CA (Z) principal. This category might be new, but it has always been in existence by way of the general term of 'Articled Clerk' in the accountant job-market."

Kunaka said ICAZ was seeking to bring this grouping under its control since it was responsible for their training.

"We believe this move will allow us to monitor, control and maintain high standards within the accounting profession. It is the Institute's view that members to this category will be under the same stringent requirements of CPD and other professional requirements that are required of full CA (Z), to ensure the reputation of the institute is not tarnished. In addition, the approval of membership to this category will be strictly monitored by Council through the Education Committee," he said.

He said no confusion would be brought about by this development because the new class of members would "not use the CA (Z) designation simply because they are not CAs".

"A different title to avoid brand dilution e.g. Articled Accountant (AA) will be used to identify this category. In addition, there will be an extensive campaign to market this group as purely a second tier to CA (Z)," he said.

Source - fingaz
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