The South African Accounting Sector
This report focuses on the South African accounting, auditing, bookkeeping and tax advisory sector which was valued at R28bn in 2015. According to the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), between 32,000 and 33,000 Chartered Accountants (CAs), a few thousand bookkeepers and accounting technicians, as well as 45,000 support staff are employed in the professional financial services industry. South Africa is considered the world leader when it comes to the strength of auditing and reporting standards and local firms have acted as pioneers of modern accounting principles and integrated reporting.
Dominance by the ‘Big Four’
The sector is dominated by the so-called “Big Four”, the locally-owned operations of the largest accounting and audit firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte), Ernst & Young (EY), and KPMG. While the Big Four account for the majority of market demand, particularly in the lucrative audit of publicly traded companies, they have some meaningful competition in the form of a dozen or so medium-sized South African accounting firms. In particular, the firms SizweNtsalubaGobdo (SNG) and Grant Thornton have been vying for the title of fifth-largest South African firm for some years. There are also a relatively large number of small and very small firms that primarily engage themselves in general financial accounting and bookkeeping as opposed to auditing.
Although the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report of 2015/16 confirms that South Africa remains the world leader when it comes to the strength of auditing and reporting standards, the local accounting sector is beset by concerns over skills shortages and the slow pace of demographic transformation. Referring to the increasing number of vacancies in both the public and private sector, SAICA describes the situation as “critical”, citing forecasts that despite stagnant economic growth, the accounting and auditing sector could present with a skills deficit of up to 35% by 2018.
The South African Accounting Sector describes current conditions and recent developments including merger and acquisition activity and the impact of recently introduced regulations. The report profiles 21 companies, ranging from the Big Four market leaders to small companies such as SekelaXabiso (Pty) Ltd and Theron du Plessis Durbanville Inc.