Accountancy in South Africa is a recognised profession and is practised accordinng to legislated guidelines known as Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP). It is a closely monitored activity, and there are penalties for non-compliance. For example, the financial statements of a private company (Pty Ltd) have to be audited on an annual basis.
When arranging accounting services for your business or personal estate, you should bear in mind that in South Africa there are different categories of accounting professionals.
The lowest ranking members are bookkeepers. Bookkeepers do not necessarily have an accounting qualification, and there are administrative staff who can do the books. If you are running a small business, such as a sole proprietorship (sole trader) or a closed corporation (CC), this may be the best option for you.
Next in line are qualified accountants, who typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting. There are two types of accountant – financial accountants and management accountants. Financial accountants are more involved in the nuts and bolts of drawing up financial statements, while management accountants are able to make informed business decisions based on their assessment of those statements. A company may ask the same person to take on both roles, or may have a financial department that includes people in both positions.
Auditors are used to verify financial statements and company and employee performance, and also to assist in forensic investigations. As stated above, if you are registered as a private company you need to be audited at least once a year, by law.
Accounting services in South Africa are available from private operators and larger accountancy firms. Shop around when you are looking for accounting services, and make sure that you get someone who understands the nature of your business and takes the requisite care in handling your financial exchange control information. The same criteria apply when hiring someone in an accounting position.