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The South African Accounting Sector
The accounting industry is part of the wider business services sector which contributed 20.2% to GDP in 2016. There were more than 41,000 Chartered Accountants (CAs) registered in South Africa in 2016 and some 2,000 active audit firms. Of concern in the domestic arena is that South Africa has lost its status as the global leader when it comes to the strength of auditing and reporting standards. The local industry is also beset with concerns over recently promulgated regulations, slow transformation and a perceived decline in independence due to allegations relating to the KPMG South Africa controversy.
The accounting sector is changing rapidly as a result of technological advancement and firms are increasingly turning to cloud computing, data analytics and outright automation in an effort to reduce the amount of laborious, repetitive and time-consuming tasks and focus on a more strategic and consultative role for their clients. However, analysts comment that while technology promises to significantly reduce the amount of time accountants and auditors spend on low-level tasks, the sector is also increasingly aware of the threat of serious disruption, and potential replacement, of a number of key value propositions offered by accountants.
The South African Accounting Sector describes current conditions and developments, focusing on Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation (MAFR), a rule published by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) in June 2017. This rule and other factors that influence the success of the sector are discussed in this detailed report. Profiles for 19 companies are provided, including market leaders, the locally-owned operations of the largest audit firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte, EY and KPMG. Also profiled are the Auditor-General of South Africa and medium-sized South African accounting firm PKF South Africa, which in May 2017 announced the acquisition of Durban-based audit and accounting practice De Witt & Saestad. The deal sees PKF's Durban office grow to 240 employees, solidifying the firm's position as the largest independent accounting firm in KwaZulu-Natal.