An intuitive cloud-based solution streamlining your system of quality management.
An intuitive cloud-based solution streamlining your system of quality management.
Caseware Working Papers provides seamless imports of trial balance or general ledger details from over 60 accounting packages, Excel, CSV and ASCII. Govender says what he finds particularly beneficial are automated mapping and lead sheets and the ability to reconcile the trial balance back to the ledger systems with full adjusting journal entry traceability and reporting.
“Vodacom South Africa has been using Caseware for some years – prior to my joining the company in 2018. I believe that before this, the team used Excel, which was time consuming – particularly when it came to formatting,” he says. “Mapping makes life quite easy, and we appreciate the ability to make manual adjustments, write notes and see the whole audit trail of any adjustments or notes – even years later.”
As part of a multinational group, Vodacom South Africa must align with the group’s tailored and standardised financial reporting standards and templates, Govender says. “Over the years, our financials have become quite tailored. Caseware specialists came to Vodacom and tailored the system for us to meet the group’s requirements.”
Vodacom South Africa also uses Caseware’s Corporate Statutory Reporting Template (Pty) IFRS, Financial Statements for Trusts – SME, and SmartSync.
Vodacom Group is a leading African connectivity and financial services company serving 130 million customers and delivering services including telecommunications, IT, digital and financial services. Vodafone Group Plc (Vodafone) – one of the world’s largest communications companies in terms of revenue – has a 60.5% shareholding in Vodacom.
Wesley Govender CA (SA), Senior IFRS & Governance Specialist at Vodacom South Africa, says he and his team use Caseware Working Papers (including Connector) as a convenient single tool to prepare annual financial statements.
IFRS Financial Statements
SME Financial Statements
An existing skills deficit has now become an urgent problem in search of a solution.
By Christiaan Steyn, Product Manager: Assurance, Caseware Africa
Lockdowns and the emergence of the work-from-home (WFH) model is exacerbating a competency problem in accounting and auditing.
Before COVID-19 struck, it was already apparent that students taking the Initial Test of Competency given by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) were deficient in the requisite skills needed to perform well as accountants or auditors, among them logical and reasoning skills.
The profession is taking steps to remedy a state of affairs that has now become serious. One initiative is the introduction of the new CA2025 training program by SAICA. This includes an updated competency framework that incorporates stronger emphasis on digital and decision-making acumen.
In the past, this lack of skills on the part of those entering the profession was not such a serious issue because they were able to learn on the job as first-year trainees, both from the second and third years with whom they worked daily and, of course, from the senior members of the firm with whom they would have come into contact intermittently. Thus, by the time they had completed the final year of their training contract, they had an acceptable level of competence, and the business world could employ them with confidence.
Research shows that working on projects—the archetypal on-the-job training—is the most effective way of obtaining the professional skills required to be a Charted Accountant. Much of this learning is acquired “by osmosis” through contact with more experienced colleagues, an informal way in which enabling competencies are passed on, as well as subtle lessons about how to conduct oneself as a professional, including the all-important ethical stance so important today.
When the state of emergency was initially declared and the country went into level 5 lockdown in March 2020, this cycle of gaining learning and experience over three years was broken for the 2020 first-year cohort, who began work in February. They had little or no induction and, with clients only being available through virtual channels and audits having to move to online platforms, these trainees were denied any of that vital on-the-job learning and experience. The second and third-year cohorts also would have suffered a proportional diminution of workplace training and experience. In addition, they were struggling themselves – learning how to cope with the virtual audit, the technology and how to support the juniors and how to get support from their superiors.
But of course, the vicious cycle did not end there. Although the lockdown levels were reduced, social distancing remained mandatory, office capacity constraints remained in place and working from home or hybrid work models became normalised. In an effort for clients to minimise exposure, some explicitly requested that audit teams do not visit their premises unless absolutely necessary such as for inventory count procedures.
Much of the audit process, as well as training, remains virtual. In short, opportunities for the traditional, largely effortless but highly effective on-the-job training and experience remains scarce and diminishes each year as the more senior cohorts are less and less equipped to pass on skills to the first years. Of course, one should also not overlook the lost opportunities to interact with clients and to deepen one’s knowledge of how businesses actually function.
In fact, this year’s third years who will enter the financial services profession at the start of 2023 will thus be the first cohorts to miss out on the traditional hands-on training across the whole period of their training contract, with significant consequences for the business world. In addition, those that are behind them—2022’s first and second year trainees—will suffer from the lack of skills and experience the years above them possess.
Anecdotal support for this analysis is offered by the significant rise in calls to Caseware’s support centre. In addition, for the first time, basic audit rather than purely technical questions are being asked.
One should not fall into the trap of seeing the pre-COVID period as a sort of golden age. As noted above, there were already signs that skills levels at the entry stage were not what they should be, and possibly also at the exit stage.
One of the reasons for this is the increased burden on partners to not only manage engagements, but also run a business in a difficult economic climate. Increased economic and audit fee pressures saw partners and other senior personnel increasingly less involved in the audits to keep costs down.
I see that part of the solution to the growing skills crisis in accounting and auditing will lie in reversing this trend and finding ways for more senior people in the profession to increase their involvement in audits and the contact they have with trainees. A complementary approach would be for audit firms to establish exactly what the skills levels of their junior staff are, and to put in place targeted training programmes to bridge identified gaps. Professional bodies also have a role to play in working with the audit firms to establish what the future skills gaps are and how best to bridge them—after all, they will certify the competence of those completing their training contracts and entering the broader financial services sector.
It’s not a full-blown crisis yet but that is where we are headed – action is required now.
By Nienke Krüger, Product Manager: Financial Reporting, Caseware Africa
Annual financial statement reporting is a process with which finance professionals are very familiar. As this is a statutory requirement, a lot of the yearly planning is built around it, and rightly so. However, the process can be an onerous one, particularly since queries and corrections might relate to transactions from up to a year ago.
Additional reporting is also required throughout the year, and management may need reports at shorter intervals in order to stay abreast of the organisation’s financial status.
In many organisations, the annual, interim, and monthly reports are approached as independent reporting processes, resulting in a disjointed approach that duplicates effort and consumes a great deal of time.
This begs the question of whether we are missing an opportunity to streamline all reporting processes by integrating them.
Different industries use different terminology for financial reporting that is not prepared on an annual basis.
Interim financial statements are defined by IAS 34 and although this standard does not prescribe who must prepare interim financials, it does provide the requirements of how they must be prepared. They are mostly performed by listed entities, but also by some specific industries that are regarded as more volatile.
These are not legislatively regulated and are normally produced for management and other stakeholders who might not be intimately involved in the detail of the business on a daily basis. Management accounts originated from the manufacturing sector where there was a need to prepare a profit and loss statement on the basis of cost accounting rather than IFRS/SME standard.
Other industries adopted this procedure also but more from a monthly balance sheet and income statement perspective with the same grouping as that of annual financial statements.
By integrating and aligning the reporting requirements, organisations are essentially preparing their annual and interim statements throughout the year, as they prepare monthly reports.
This is perhaps where the biggest efficiency gain will be for an organisation, not only on a monthly basis, but also enabling management during the audit period to get back to running their businesses a lot quicker as there are no surprises at year end.
At Caseware Africa, we encourage the principle of one data source as this empowers our clients to have one version of the truth. This in turn enables you to have greater confidence in the information presented and make operational decisions that are right for your business. We believe if you use the annual solution, on a monthly basis, you can achieve the monthly board packs you require and if you need a more robust solution, you can also use the Interim template. But all emanating from the same data source and building on the work performed on a monthly basis for the efficient preparation of your annual financial statements.
Caseware IDEA® Data Analysis is a comprehensive commanding data analytics tool that guarantees data integrity and accelerates the performance of analytics that yield faster and more effective external audits.
As an external auditor, making sense of the organisational data of your clients can be challenging, to say the least. Caseware IDEA® enables you to read, display, analyse, manipulate, sample and extract data with ease and from almost any source through a user-friendly, intuitive interface.
Auditors can quickly produce tailored reports, identify trends and outliers and detect fraud in the external audit.
According to Christiaan Steyn, Assurance Product Manager, Caseware Africa, auditing teams spend a significant amount of their time selecting samples and analysing client data for audit engagements. “It is now more important than ever for auditors to look at all of the data in the audit, rather than just a sample. This is because of the explosion of the amount of data available to auditors, together with the fact that risk-based auditing is now the expected standard for external audits, as well as the focus upon the analysis and management of risk that’s applied within the risk-based auditing approach.”
Steyn confirms that although auditors cannot be expected to identify 100 percent of all fraud in all cases, they have an obligation to find material misstatements that would change the audit opinion.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s due to an error or fraud – if it’s a material misstatement, auditors need to identify it. With IDEA®, auditing teams can increase their data coverage, by investigating a larger number of items and potentially covering 100% of the transactions,” he explains.
“IDEA® enables teams to save an enormous amount of time using a built-in risk-based sample model that allows for systematic, random and monetary unit techniques, and prioritises areas of elevated risks. Not only can teams easily sample within minutes, but also take advantage of over 100 audit functions for a robust analysis, including ageing, duplication detection and Benford’s Law,” says Steyn.
IDEA® allows audit teams to import information seamlessly and easily from almost any data source, in almost any format.
Once data is imported, IDEA® protects source data integrity by providing teams with read-only access. With built-in workflows, teams are empowered with a full suite of analytical tests for financial audits, that drive additional efficiencies and again saves an incredible amount of time.
Steyn further explains that IDEA® allows auditors to display data in different ways, and to generate analyses that would otherwise not be available. “IDEA® can also be helpful in identifying unusual or strange items, testing the validity of items by cross-checking them against other information, or validating calculations.”
Additional features include the ability to pinpoint patterns, trends and outliers visually based on the outcomes of tests, to focus audit efforts. IDEA® provides for a built-in audit trail that easily enables repeatable analysis, and which can also be used as audit evidence. It further enables users to implement bespoke advanced analytics in the analysis process with Python scripting support.
Steyn acknowledges that while new auditing tools and emerging technologies hold the key to evolving the audit process, strategic risks around their adoption remain, and must be acknowledged to ensure the industry continues to develop systems that generate value for firms and their clients. The quality of data, auditor’s knowledge of databases, and experience will contribute to the success of the processes that IDEA® enables.
“Not only will the amount of Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time generated data dramatically expand, but so will the amount of data that will be created and managed by enterprises. It is estimated that by 2025, nearly 60% of the 175 zettabytes (~175 billion Terabytes) of existing data will be created and managed by enterprises versus consumers,” says Steyn.
He encourages auditors to empower their teams with analytical tools like IDEA®. “Given the volume of transactions, quantity of data and the rate at which both are growing, it is imperative for auditors to embrace analytical tools.”
He notes that in his experience, the best way for firms to build adoption is by starting small. “Identify a few audit engagements and commit the partner and the team to start and, especially to complete the audit, enabled by IDEA®.”
By building up a collection of successful audit engagements powered by analytics in IDEA®, teams build expertise, confidence, and skill. “The audit of the future will undoubtedly not be possible without data-driven analytical tools. Audit firms that drive adoption first, will be best-placed to meet the needs of the rapidly changing audit landscape,” Steyn confirms.
Connect & Consolidate
Import information seamlessly and easily from almost any data source, in almost any format.
Source Data Protection
Protect source data integrity with read-only access to all imported datasets.
Deliver Key Insights
Use over 100 audit functions for a robust analysis, including ageing, duplication detection and Benford’s Law.
Apply a risk-based sample model using systematic, random or monetary unit techniques, and prioritise areas with elevated risks.
Execute a full suite of analytical tests for financial audits with the SmartAnalyzer FinApp.
Pinpoint patterns, trends and outliers visually based on the outcomes of tests to focus audit efforts.
Follow a clear built-in audit trail that allows for repeatable analysis and audit evidence.
Advanced Analysis Using Python
Incorporate advanced analytics in the analysis process with Python scripting support.
Mauritius Tuesday 11th January, 2022:
Adapt IT International, the Mauritius-based subsidiary of Adapt IT Holdings Limited, has been certified as a Registered Training Institution by the Mauritius Qualifications Authority (MQA). This is a significant achievement and will position Adapt IT International as one of the elite group of MQA-certified training institutions in the country.
“MQA certification is an extremely rigorous process that took us two years to achieve, and we are very honoured to have been judged to meet the Authority’s high standards,” says Sandrine Permall, CaseWare Africa’s Mauritius Branch Manager. CaseWare Africa is a division of Adapt IT and is the African reseller for CaseWare International – the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software.
MQA-certified training companies must also demonstrate that they have policies and procedures in place to deliver training effectively, and to gather, and act on, client feedback. The aim of the MQA is to ensure that the Mauritian workforce is constantly being upskilled to maintain its position as Africa’s governance and finance hub, in line with the mandates of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC). Moreover, up to 75% of training costs provided by MQA-registered training institutions can be claimed back from the HRDC.
Mrs. Permall confirms that financial professionals and auditors have a key role to play across commerce. A highly skilled corps of accounting and auditing professionals is essential if Mauritius is to continue along its current growth trajectory and realise its goals as a country. Mauritian accounting and auditing professionals need to be able to use the latest technologies to improve their productivity, enhance the quality of their outputs and ensure that they comply with an increasingly complex body of global regulations—especially since Mauritius is seen as a desirable domicile for international companies operating in Africa.
CaseWare has a proven track record of helping the accounting and auditing profession to work smarter. For example, CaseWare Cloud allows distributed teams to collaborate easily and maintain strict version control while the CaseWare platform ensures that wasteful and inaccurate manual inputting of figures is minimised with one version of the truth. CaseWare’s templates are constantly updated to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and standards mitigating a key risk for the profession and its clients.
“CaseWare has a major role to play in equipping all Mauritian financial and auditing professionals to compete with international firms and provide their clients with the best possible outcomes,” she says.
“MQA accreditation means that we are now in an even better position to provide our clients with the training they need to realise the software’s full potential, underpinned by the refund of up to 75% of the total cost of the training,” Mrs. Permall concludes.
This can be defined as an engagement in which a practitioner agrees on specific procedures, usually audit-like in nature, with a client or a third party, and provides a report on findings against those agreed procedures. There is no assurance provided by the report, and the user is left to draw their own conclusions based on the agreed procedures and the findings reported against them. Previously, these were often referred to as factual findings.
Yes! The standard that applies to Agreed-Upon Procedures is ISRS4400 – International Standard on Related Services 4400 (Revised): Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements. This standard was recently revised by the IAASB, and the revised standard is applicable for engagements where the terms of engagement are agreed on or after 1 January 2022. The revision of this standard by the IAASB (previously ISRS4400 – which replaced ISA920) Engagements to Perform Agreed Upon Procedures Regarding Financial Information) addressed the increasing demand for these types of engagements for both financial and non-financial information and incorporated the types of updates generally being made to the standards to enhance professional judgment, independence, accountability and consistency in the profession.
Yes, increasingly so. In many cases, agreed-upon procedures are requested by third parties on specific aspects of a client’s business, and often these parties have a template or format for the reports they require. When this happens, practitioners may not always identify that the engagement being performed falls into the scope of ISRS4400. The term “factual findings report” may be more commonly used or identified. These engagements are the ones that fall into the scope of ISRS4400 (and are now referred to only as findings, and not factual findings). Some common engagements that fall into the scope of agreed-upon engagements include:
Even with the revisions in the new standard, the nature and extent of these engagements varies greatly in size, frequency, complexity and risk. Although they are not assurance engagements, the report issued by a practitioner must still comply with the standard as well as with the extant ISQC1 and the new international standards on quality management – these will become effective in 2022, and thus, still exposes practitioners to quality risks. Given the extremely varied nature of these engagements, applying a consistent approach has been challenging in the past. Some of these challenges have arisen from the following:
Caseware Africa has introduced a cloud-based Smart Engagements solution for Agreed-Upon Procedure Engagements called ISRS AGREED UPON, that addresses and resolves many of the quality and efficiency challenges.
One of the primary drivers of the IAASB’s revision of the Agreed Upon Procedures standard was the increasing use of these engagements for both financial and non-financial information. Taking into consideration the changes and expansion in financial and non-financial reporting and the increased level of assurance that users, funders, and regulators require from businesses, the investment in a solution that facilitates compliance and drives efficiencies will ensure that you are able to viably provide these services to clients with confidence, increasing the value offered to clients and improving efficiencies and quality.
Proposed amendments to Kenya’s Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, giving Chief Financial Officers only one month to submit their Annual Financial Statements to the Auditor General after the end of the financial year, are sending shockwaves through the public sector accounting community in Kenya, reports international auditing and financial reporting software company, Caseware Africa.
CPA Rexon Wachira, a public sector consultant at Caseware Africa’s Nairobi office, says the process of compiling and reviewing these entities’ Annual Financial Statements typically takes public sector financial professionals three months or longer, challenged by the fact that in the fourth quarter in a year, reports must be submitted in the same period as well. “There is grave concern that it may not be possible to produce Annual Financial Statements so quickly,” he says.
Stephan van der Merwe (CA) SA, Specialist in Public Sector Solutions at Caseware Africa, notes that audit opinion is typically used to measure the entity’s performance. “The better your audit opinion is, the better the assessment of your entity’s performance, which is another reason why these Annual Financial Statements can take a long time to prepare; every entity wants to be very thorough to ensure they get a good audit opinion. Now with the proposed tighter deadlines, this could pose a huge risk for entities, and therefore, introducing efficiency into the process is now more important than ever before,” he says.
While the amendment is still in the pipeline, Caseware Africa says now is the time for public sector entities to review their processes and do away with time-consuming and error-prone manual systems to ensure that their reporting is more efficient, accurate and compliant.
Caseware’s IPSAS and IFRS Financial Statement solutions enable public sector finance professionals to automate the preparation of compliant financial statements on either International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), whichever is required. This includes flexible lead sheets and a centralised document manager to organise all working paper collateral. Both these solutions simplify collaboration, consolidation and assure preparers of compliance with international standards.
Mr. van der Merwe notes: “In the East African public sector, several entities have successfully implemented either Caseware Africa’s IPSAS or IFRS Financial Statements solutions for process efficiency, data integrity and compliance. In the past, the focus among Kenya’s public sector customers was mainly on harnessing Caseware Africa to reduce manual processing, but we now see a sharp surge in interest in using our solutions to achieve compliance in terms of both international standards and reporting deadlines.”
Caseware Africa, part of the Adapt IT group, has launched a holistic, cloud-based tax return solution designed especially for trusts. Michael Mncube, Tax Product Manager at Caseware Africa, says that the new software enables tax practitioners to handle all tax administrative matters relating to trusts in one application, including the preparation, calculation, and submission of IRP6 and ITR12T tax returns directly to SARS.
“Administering trusts is complex and the tax authorities are especially rigorous in their oversight of trusts, thus further raising the stakes for administrators. Trust Tax provides practitioners with a single application that makes it possible to keep track of all trustees and beneficiaries, as well as managing all trust administration and tax-related matters,” he says.
“In the age of remote work, practitioners are enabled with greater flexibility as Trust Tax is offered via Caseware Cloud, which means it is available from any location, on any device, at any time.”
Trust Tax is also included with Caseware CloudTax, a tax management platform that provides tax practitioners with an invaluable overview of their entire client base, and corporate tax teams with a unified view of all tax return-related matters for all their taxpayers. It integrates directly with SARS e-filing.
“The cloud offers many time-saving features that will help users get more done faster. Of particular importance in Trust Tax, is the ability to collaborate directly with taxpayers in the app to assemble supporting documentation, as well as maintaining a single copy of all taxpayer records to preserve data integrity,” he says. Other important features include the ability to manage and monitor deadlines, and a full suite of checklists, questionnaires, and schedules that intelligently expand or collapse according to the complexity of the return. Trust Tax also automatically links to the latest SARS forms and calculation frameworks, so all returns are automatically compliant.
“Trust Tax will greatly help to optimise efficiency for tax practitioners in a complex area of tax administration. Like all CaseWare products, it is designed to help practitioners use their time more effectively while enhancing the service they deliver to clients. What we are especially excited about is that with the introduction of Trust Tax, practitioners can now, when combined with both Corporate Tax and Individual Tax, manage all their provisional and annual tax returns for all their clients on a single cloud platform.” Mr Mncube concludes.
The Drakenstein Municipality in the Western Cape has worked with Caseware Africa to become one of the first municipalities in South Africa to align their reporting with National Treasury guidelines as set out in the mSCOA Annual Financial Statements Specimen. Drakenstein Municipality, encompassing Paarl, Wellington, Gouda, Hermon, Saron and Simondium, recently announced that it had received a clean audit opinion from the Auditor-General in the 2019/2020 financial year. Drakenstein Municipality managed to achieve all of this despite the Covid-19 lockdowns and all the additional complexities that municipalities had to face.
Bradley Brown, Chief Financial Officer, Drakenstein Municipality, has high praise for Caseware’s professional team. “The guidance and dedication of the Caseware team during the compilation of our Annual Financial Statements (AFS) for the year ending 30 June 2020 was unsurpassed. Our personnel could, at any given time, liaise with them for assistance with changes to the AFS’ and on all occasions they were greeted with extreme professionalism – which we feel is reflected in this achievement,” says Mr. Brown.
He goes on to confirm that a clean audit report – or unqualified audit report with no material misstatements, was issued to the Drakenstein municipality, from the Auditor General of South Africa, with the first-time implementation of Caseware’s template. “Not only is the outcome a huge achievement but we also did not receive a high-level overview report regarding casting errors or notes, not agreeing to the head statements. This was definitely not the case in previous years,” adds Mr. Brown.
Stephan van der Merwe, Product Manager – Public Sector at Caseware Africa, a division of Adapt IT, says amending the reporting format to align with the latest guidelines from National Treasury, would have been a complex process in a normal year. However, 2020 was further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, making on-site collaboration near impossible. But despite these challenges, the Caseware Africa team collaborated virtually with the Drakenstein municipal finance team in assisting to implement Caseware’s new software and using it to prepare Annual Financial Statements.
The Caseware mSCOA Specimen Financial Statements solution aligns with the National Treasury’s mSCOA Annual Financial Statement Specimen, as issued in July 2019. The Caseware solution is powered directly by the datasets that municipalities submit to National Treasury as part of the mSCOA reforms. This greatly streamlines the process in preparing financial statements, as importing data into the financial statements is completely automated and seamless. “By automating the annual financial statement preparation process, finance teams in municipalities don’t have to waste time collecting all the appropriate information they need, locating and correcting data errors and implementing new requirements in isolation, but rather focus their attention on the actual financial statements.” says Mr. van der Merwe.
“Helping municipalities to automate their financial statement preparation processes using our software, has been an important focus for the Caseware Africa business over the last decade. Drakenstein Municipality was one of the first adopters of our new mSCOA Specimen Financial Statements and we are absolutely delighted that they could successfully prepare their 2019/2020 financials using our solution,” Mr. van der Merwe adds.
In conclusion, Mr. Brown reaffirms the importance of the business relationship between Drakenstein Municipality and the Caseware Africa.