The 13th of August was the first day of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants' (SAIPA) Accounting iNdaba 2019. The event is being held until 15th August at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The iNdaba seeks to start a conversation throughout the Professional Accounting community to answer the questions: how will the 4th Industrial Revolution affect the Profession and how should accountants prepare themselves for those imminent changes? Its theme is "The Future-Ready Professional Accountant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".
However, the conference is also delving into hot topics like ethics and restoring trust in the Profession, and the adoption of IPSAS in public sector accounting.
The first session of the day welcomed Arthur Goldstruck of World Wide Worx to the stage, who presented his firm's findings on 4IR adoption in South Africa. Goldstruck explained that uptake of the technologies, especially AI, was slow. He encouraged the audience to recognise and embrace the benefits of these advances in information analysis and process automation.
He was followed by Saadiya Adam, IRBA Professional Manager: Ethics, who guided attendees through the updates to the IESBA Code of Ethics as well as the body's new eCode. The eCode provides an easily accessible online resource that allows practitioners to rapidly locate desired clauses using intelligent search capabilities. This, and other resources provided by the body, will help Professional Accountants to be more aware of the provisions of the Code.
A panel of experts, hosted by SAIPA's Ettiene Retief, then discussed how to rebuild trust in the Profession and the requirements for achieving that goal. They agreed on several risks, notably that the culture of delighting customers as a primary business goal could obscure the Professional Accountant's and auditor's obligation to their fiduciary duties.
After a short break, Bernard Agulhas, CEO of the IRBA, shared the regulator's initiatives to ensure greater independence and accountability of auditors. Agulhas highlighted the behaviours that led to misconduct, and environmental changes his organisation was investigating to discourage them. These include mandatory rotation of auditors.
Next, Faith Ngwenya of SAIPA hosted a panel discussion on SMEs as an engine of economic growth. Participants agreed that small businesses provided vital goods and services and needed greater support to help them overcome difficulties in their early stages.
After lunch, the iNdaba continued to unpack 4IR with two presentations. The first was delivered by Professor Hanlie Smuts, who discussed considerations when pursuing digital transformation. She explained that organisations needed a clear strategy and highlighted the skills Professional Accountants would require in the future. These include increased emotional intelligence; the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn; the ability to adopt new technology strategies; and the ability to apply creative thinking. She was followed by Jodi Joseph of CaseWare who also covered 4IR technologies, including practical Blockchain and IoT applications, and data analytics.
The day's proceedings closed with a final panel, hosted by SAIPA's Professor Rashied Small, whose team of industry experts discussed the effects of 4IR on the Profession. The first day was a great success, with delegates adjourning for a cocktail party in the evening.
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