10 minutes with Serame Ramosajana (CA) SA
The South African Chartered Accountancy profession has been in the spotlight due to some of its members being involved in various forms of misconduct recently. The latest Steinhoff scandal, state capture and general corruption in various levels of government and the public sector have exposed members of the profession as playing a key role in aiding and abetting transgressors.
However, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) has affirmed its absolute commitment to maintaining the integrity and ethical standards of the profession. The body states that it would “deal decisively with members who have acted unethically after due investigative and disciplinary processes”.
Serame Ramosajana (CA) SA and head of department at Milpark’s School of Commerce, agrees that the recent auditing scandals have created a negative perception of a profession which has always been considered trustworthy.
“In the early 2000’s, the first accounting scandals emerged from Enron and Arthur Anderson auditors in the US. Subsequently, we saw development of new legislation that aimed to squash these corporate governance failures. As a result of the latest state capture and Steinhoff scandals, we will enter into a new era of legislation and we will see regulations being tightened and reviewed,” he says.
Ramosajana gave us insight into his teaching style and some of the changes that are currently happening in the profession:
Q: How has the profession in SA evolved?
A: The CA profession is still one of the most prestigious qualifications in the world. Over the past 15 years, the profession has seen the qualification of black CAs. SAICA has made an immense contribution to the profession by introducing the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, a programme that is available solely to black and coloured students who dream of becoming CAs, but do not have the funds to fulfil that dream. This initiative is a great success, as it gives about 300 previously disadvantaged students per year an opportunity to study. Auditing firms that provide training opportunities to these students have also contributed to the growth of the profession.
Q: In March 2016, ABASA revealed that black CAs in SA are still a rare breed. What is your take on this?
A: There are currently close to 40 000 CAs in the country, of whom 10 000 are black. This translates to 25% nationally, which is considered low compared to other races. The latest Talent Shortage Survey for SA shows that accounting and finance staff are among the top 10 positions that employers in the country are having difficulty filling. I think, for instance, if Milpark Education were to partner with SAICA, to promote the CA qualification and other accounting programmes, we can contribute towards building a better South Africa, with the required skills that are needed by the market.
Q: What is your teaching approach in the classroom and what are its strengths and weaknesses?
A: Due to the nature of certain accounting modules, and the fact that most of our students are distance learners, I usually apply a hybrid teaching style. This entails unpacking complex terms with practical scenarios and exercises, either in class or via video. It is of utmost importance that students understand basic accounting terminology and concepts in a practical manner. I also follow a “flipped” classroom approach, mainly for contact learning students. In this case, students need to prepare and present certain topics in class and lead classroom discussions. The weakness is that, in certain instances, students come to class unprepared and it becomes difficult to apply.
Q: How are Milpark programmes impacting on the student experience and general society?
A: We constantly review our programmes on a five-year cycle to ensure that they are relevant and speak to current industry trends. Students studying entrepreneurship modules, for instance, engage in practical entrepreneurial activities that would enhance their creativity. I want to introduce the same model in the accounting modules where students prepare the basic accounting records of a particular non-profit organisation (e.g. charity, church, etc.) and report back as a group. By so doing, it will not only assist them individually, but they would also have contributed to their respective societies positively.
Q: With the current economic situation in SA and rising unemployment, what do you think needs to be done?
A: I believe that the issue of unemployment affects all of us, as this usually results in crime, poverty, etc. I think the government and private sector should play an important role in creating initiatives that will contribute to job creation. Provision of access to funding or start-up capital to small-medium sized entrepreneurs can contribute immensely.
15 Dec 2017