How to find a good auditor
In a few months’ time the annual audit reports of all estate agencies will be due. Is your auditor a registered chartered accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)?
Every year there are estate agencies with tales of woe about auditors that dropped them last minute when the time came to submit their annual audit report to the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB). If this was you last year, how can you avoid a repeat? Is there perhaps a list of trusted auditor firms that could be referenced?
A good place to start is with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) who has jurisdiction over registered chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], associate general accountants [AGAs(SA)] and accounting technicians [ATs(SA)].
In terms of the Chartered Accountants Designation (Private) Act, 67 of 1993 only members of SAICA are entitled to use the designation of chartered accountant South Africa CA(SA). If a person’s membership with SAICA lapses for whatever reason, that person will no longer be entitled to use the chartered accountant designation. If SAICA becomes aware of a former member or an individual who has never been a member making use of the designation, the matter will be investigated and will be referred to the relevant authorities where necessary.
SAICA advises that estate agents need to ensure that they use accountants and auditors who are registered. The information whether a chartered accountant is registered can be found on SAICA’s website or by contacting a regional SAICA office directly (contact details for the four regional offices are also on their website). More on this below.
It should be noted that not all accountants are registered auditors. Of SAICA’s over 50 000 members, only 4 000 chartered accountants (SA) are registered as auditors. SAICA advises that when estate agents appoint auditors to conduct work, they should verify with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) that the accountant that they are engaging is in fact a registered auditor.
Don’t all accountants have to register with a professional body such as SAICA?
No, it is not mandatory for an accountant to be registered with a professional body. However, for an accountant to be a chartered accountant and use the CA(SA) designation next to their name, they have to follow the prescribed qualification process and thereafter register as a member of SAICA.
This ensures that a registered chartered accountant CA(SA) has to have studied a SAICA-accredited BCom degree. Once the three-year degree is completed, they need to obtain a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) or equivalent qualification at a SAICA-accredited university. This is a post-graduate course that focuses on accounting, auditing, taxation and financial management and takes a minimum of one year to complete.
Then follows a three-year training contract (commonly known as articles) with a registered training office. During training, they must pass two qualifying examinations, both exams are set and administered by SAICA.
The entire process to become a CA(SA) takes about seven years from the time the aspirant CA’s enter university. Only once they’ve completed their training contract and the qualifying exams, can they register as a member of SAICA and use the CA(SA) designation.
If they followed the SAICA-accredited BCom route but did not complete the qualifying exams to become a CA(SA), they can register as AGAs (SA) or Ats (SA).
How to verify registration with SAICA
Before engaging the services of a CA(SA), AGA(SA) or AT(SA), SAICA encourages the public to verify the membership of such SAICA registered accountants or request a letter of Good Standing with SAICA. The estate agent can contact SAICA to verify whether the accountant in question is a SAICA member by dialling 0861072422 or alternatively verifying the membership on the SAICA website by clicking here.
SAICA does not give out member information, however, information provided by the estate agents can be verified against the SAICA database to confirm whether the accountant is a SAICA member or not.
Where can I complain?
In terms of the Constitution SAICA may discipline its members. The following persons are subject to the Institute’s professional authority: chartered accountants with the designation CA(SA); associate general accountants designated as AGA(SA); or accounting technicians with the following designations: member accounting technicians MAT(SA) or public sector member accounting technicians PSMAT(SA). The SAICA by-laws and Code of Professional Conduct is also applicable to trainee accountants registered with SAICA. If the person is a member; former member; associate, former associate; trainee accountant or former trainee accountant of SAICA, he/she may be reported to SAICA. The process of lodging a complaint in explained here.