Chartered Accountants destroying Zimbabwean companies?


There was a lot of backlash on the opinion piece on “Chartered Accountants killing Zimbabwe’s Companies”. There is this perception that I am attacking a certain profession.On the contrary am not let’s look at the facts. This is equally the same as saying lawyers are killing Zimbabwe’s economy because majority of our MPs are lawyers.
By Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
This is the best time to compare a CA with other professions and why CEOs should also come from people with different backgrounds and qualifications in Zimbabwe. In most countries where there is a robust NQF (National Qualifications Framework), South Africa and the UK included, professional qualifications have been evaluated and awarded the relevant NQF Level. SAQA in South Africa has ranked the CA qualification at NQF8, which is the same level as a Post Graduate Diploma, or an Honours Degree from a rated university.

For comparison, CIS, CIMA, ACCA, etc, have also been graded as NQF8. Employers in SA rate CIMA higher, as much as those in the UK rate ACCA higher. A Bachelors is NQF7, an MBA is NQF9, and a Doctorate is NQF10. If we look at the CA qualification in detail, we find that all they write after completing their Bachelors’ is a CTA (Certificate in Taxation) and a DAA (Diploma in Applied Accounting), then the FQE (Final Qualifying Exam) which is mostly a case-study.

The biggest difference between a CA qualification and other Accounting qualifications is they have to under-go a 3 year supervised apprenticeship/articles of clerkship before qualifying. This advantage is only relevant before 25-30 years of age, as everyone will have acquired that experience after 30 years of age, and after 5-10 years of being in the industry. The qualification and exams hardly teach anything on Corporate and Business Strategy, Economics, Operations and Human Resources Management, which are all fundamental in managing a business effectively. Does not this leave our CAs narrow and blinkered to be effective Corporate Leaders?

You can also look at the evolution of Corporate Leadership, which started with Technocrats as proprietors, but their weaknesses in other areas of Management and Leadership, especially in the supply chain, forced their replacement by Production and Operations Managers as Corporate Leaders, thereby creating the 2nd wave. The 2nd wave’s detachment from the market resulted in the 3rd wave, that of Marketers, who in turn grew the market exponentially resulting in international and overseas markets.

This, however, disregarded the financial considerations, like policies and regulations, best investment option analysis, capital raising and cash-flow management. This brought about the 4th wave, that of Financial experts as Corporate Leaders. In a lot of cases, CAs have had to augment their training by acquiring MBAs, as the CA qualification alone is inadequate for total corporate leadership. Why would they have to go that route, if CAs are believed to know-it-all?

Bottom line is that the professional body has done a very good job of marketing and glorifying the CA profession, beyond what it is worth. They have also been unfair in creating barriers to entry, like the agreement they entered into with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, all companies should be audited by CA and all FD/CFO of a listed company has to be a CA when other Public Accountants can equally do the job.