Helping our clients navigate COVID-19’s choppy waters

Like most businesses during these challenging times, CaseWare Africa’s main focus has been on maintaining our ability to continue servicing our existing clients, who depend on us to run their businesses.

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In pursuit of that goal, we successfully moved our entire workforce offsite ahead of the national lockdown. Our cloud-first strategy has served us well, as the cloud is not only how we deliver our new generation of software to clients, it’s also how we empower our own teams with the tools to build our software and serve our clients.

As a result, our software design and development has continued virtually without a break, something that’s very important to us—we know our clients depend on our software to automate key processes, and rely on us to keep their software up-to-date in respect of complying with local regulations and global compliance standards.

In short, our clients can continue to receive the support they need on their current products, but they can also be confident that our teams are continuing to work hard in creating the new products that will reimagine existing experiences entirely on the cloud.

Another initiative has been to increase the number of webinars and online training courses for clients, especially those who are working remotely. These cover a range of useful topics, and we see them as an additional service to clients who may be facing specific challenges at the moment, or who may find themselves with extra time on their hands.

While we are proud of the response we have been able to make as a company in order to serve our clients, we are also very aware of some significant challenges.

The first relates to our clients, particularly those in the accounting and auditing worlds as well as corporate finance teams. While they can work remotely with great success, their clients are often not in the same position. Many types of work cannot be done remotely—think of mines, retailers, manufacturers, to name a few. Many are clients of our clients, and they are obviously experiencing huge suffering. We and our clients are part of this value chain, and its pain affects us all.

This general economic malaise—and all the experts say it will be severe—is not only posing a challenge to existing value chains, it is also reducing the potential for creating new ones. However well prepared we and our clients are, finding new business is likely to be a problem for the foreseeable future across all sectors for the economy.

Another hurdle we all face is the management of remote teams. Providing them with the right tools to work with is one thing, keeping them motivated and collaborating with colleagues is quite another. Managers will have to acquire new skills.

These are tough times for all of us, businesses and individuals. With the help of technology and our famous South African resilience, we are finding ways to survive and eventually prosper.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare’s cloud-first focus pays dividends for clients

A few years back, CaseWare took the decision to adopt a cloud-first strategy. As a result, those clients who had already adopted our cloud-based solutions were able to avoid any loss of productivity when forced to begin working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. Cloud offers immediate and secure access to applications and data from anywhere.

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Given today’s ever-changing threat landscape, it’s important to emphasise that our clients’ data is protected by solid multi-factor authentication and rigorous security protocols that are continuously updated.

In alignment with this strategy, most of our latest applications have been developed for the cloud and are fully optimised for use on the CaseWare Cloud platform. For example, using our ISAE Attestation app, auditors can easily conduct assurance engagements for attorney and estate agent trust accounts. Similarly, CaseWare’s CloudTax and Corporate Tax applications allow tax practitioners and corporate finance teams to manage all provisional IRP6 and ITR14 annual tax returns, completely online with direct integration with SARS. With CloudSec, practitioners and company secretaries can manage CIPC compliant statutory secretarial tasks.

We are working hard on developing other cloud-first applications. Because of our cloud-based development tools and infrastructure, we were able to enable our workforce to work remotely when the COVID-19 outbreak made it necessary. Thanks to our cloud-first strategy, our development efforts have been unaffected by COVID-19.

However, our cloud-first strategy also encompasses our large base of desktop users. Existing users of CaseWare Working Papers who use our Assurance and Financial Reporting templates, can benefit from the cloud by combining these desktop offerings with CaseWare Cloud and SmartSync. This hybrid solution allows our desktop users to store a centralised copy of a CaseWare Working Papers file on CaseWare Cloud, and then use SmartSync to enable a distributed team to collaborate together. This means that everyone can work simultaneously on the same file, with a complete audit trail of all changes, whilst a redundant backup of the engagement is securely stored on the cloud for access at any time from any location.

It’s also important to emphasise the benefits of the cloud over trying to collaborate via corporate systems. The latter typically require connection via a VPN for security purposes, and corporate systems can battle to handle excessive multiple VPN connections at once, thus limiting the productivity of remote workers. Expanding the corporate VPN capability is expensive. By contrast, the cloud is designed for remote access from any location and, as already noted, is inclusive of the latest security measures and protocols that large cloud providers offer. Individual organisations would find delivering this level of security both challenging and expensive.

Recent events make it more apparent than ever that the take-up of cloud-based solutions will accelerate, and that organisations will transition much of their software onto cloud platforms in the coming months and years. We at CaseWare will continue to pursue our cloud app development initiatives, and look forward to introducing our clients to this new generation of benefits as they become available.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare Africa launches Interim Financial Statements

Johannesburg…………2020:  CaseWare Africa, a division of AdaptIT, has announced the launch of its latest product innovation, Interim Financial Statements, a new template designed to help enterprises easily draft interim financial statements in line with the IAS 34 standard.

 

 

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The Interim Financial Statements template allows for the seamless import of data for multiple periods, and fully integrates with CaseWare’s existing IFRS template for annual financial statements. In addition, it provides listed entities with new functionality to allow for JSE disclosure requirements and interim financial statement market trends, all in a single file, says Nienke Krüger, Product Manager: Financial Reporting at CaseWare Africa.

“Until now, the market has lacked a solution to automate the preparation of interim financial statements. At present, companies are typically using spreadsheets to produce these statements, following a highly manual process that can be both severely error-prone and hugely time-consuming. In addition, existing manual processes take place independently of the annual financial statement processes, thus duplicating effort. The challenge is exacerbated for companies with multiple subsidiaries which need to report on consolidated figures as well,” she says.

“All of these challenges, including consolidation, are efficiently solved in CaseWare Africa’s new solution. Automation is one of the key strategies driving financial reporting because it reduces manual intervention and makes the process both more streamlined and accurate.”

Ms Krüger notes that the template can be customised to ensure it aligns with the particular organisation’s requirements as well as applicable regulations. It can be customised to show only the material items required by IAS 34, and can be adjusted to produce financial statements monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

Companies listed on the JSE are compelled to produce semi-annual interim financial reports, while companies listed on other exchanges, such as the Nigerian Stock Exchange, need to do this on a quarterly basis. There are also various other stakeholders that will require interim financial statements to be prepared by a corporate entity, such as venture-capital and private-equity shareholders.

“CaseWare Africa’s new Interim Financial Statement solution provides a unique opportunity to automate and unify both interim and annual financial statement processes in a single solution,” Ms Krüger adds. “Above all, the new template will allow the finance professionals preparing these statements to reduce production time and save costs while at the same time improving quality and taking advantage of CaseWare’s industry-leading compliance.”About CaseWare Africa

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, is the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software and is used in over 130 countries worldwide. Our 20 000 users across Africa, consist of audit and accounting firms, government entities, municipalities as well as large blue chip companies.

CaseWare is the undisputed leader when it comes to compliance. Our leading content providers ensure you are always compliant with the latest disclosure requirements on ISAs, IFRS, IFRS-SME, GRAP and IPSAS. Our world-class products are not only designed to deliver on our compliance promise, but ensure quality results, increased effectiveness and improved profitability.

The realities of remote working—but how long will they last?

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa

Overnight, we all turned into remote workers, raising all sorts of technical and human issues for us and our companies. Now that we’ve been at it for several weeks, some trends are starting to emerge:

 

 

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Microsoft Teams and Zoom are clear winnerswhen it comes to hosting video meeting between colleagues and with clients—not to mention virtual coffee dates with friends and even book club gatherings and the like. Teams reportedly added 12 million new active daily users in the first week of lockdown, which gives you some idea of what it means when businesses across the world move online more or less simultaneously. Microsoft has also made the product available to schools at no charge. Part of its success is probably due to the strength of the Microsoft brand, and the way it integrates with the ubiquitous Office suite. Zoom’s success is probably attributable to its free version, its efficient use of data and its good social interface.

The cloud is demonstrating its mettle.Corporate VPN capabilities have often buckled under the strain of the entire workforce trying to access systems, thus harming productivity and solving the problem has proved to be expensive. By contrast, those organisations that opted for cloud-hosted solutions have not experienced this difficulty—the applications and data are readily accessible from anywhere, are designed for high-volume access and are well-protected by the cloud provider’s large security teams and rigorous authentication protocols. CaseWare’s decision to follow a cloud-first strategy means that clients who were already using CaseWare Cloud were able to continue work seamlessly during this time.

Education could be in for a profound disruption.Education institutions latched onto online channels as an additional revenue stream a few years back, but now that the entire “real-world” student body has been forced online, there’s every chance that a more fundamental reboot of the education model is in the offing. It could mean that the best teaching would be available to anybody anywhere—provided that governments can offer the necessary devices and connectivity where they are needed.

Business real estate is in for a reset.They say it takes only three weeks to form a new habit, and by the end of lockdown, many of us will have become habituated to working from home. If a more hybrid work style evolves, with home perhaps becoming the place to do work that requires deep concentration, then companies may find themselves needing less floor area and even perhaps less appetite for prime locations.

Online retail will accelerate.The impact of a new habit could also be made about e-commerce. Lockdown will have prompted many to take their first steps into online purchasing, and if their experience is good, they may continue using digital channels. The big retailers are online already, but the smaller high street stores will probably need to do some lateral thinking.

Performing could be redefined.Many artists are streaming performances from their living rooms and other unlikely venues, and may be opening up a new stream of revenue for them once live performances become possible again. Just as many sports fans opt to watch the big game on TV for reasons of convenience and also the better view, so a new audience for all the performing arts could be created. And shouldn’t our local film industry explore streaming as a way to reach a wider audience, especially as sitting cooped up in a movie house may be less appealing to many for a while?

Exercising and socialising grow in importance.There is a certain amount one can do by participating in online exercise classes and having virtual dinner parties, but our appreciation of the real thing grows by the day.

Despite its many negatives, the COVID-19 crisis has delivered one clear benefit: a renewed sense that ultimately we all have more in common than we thought. In a country with our history, the sense of unity is inspiring. Let’s hope that we can keep that spirit alive even though we still have so many difficult challenges to solve as a nation. If there is one thing we have realised during this time, it is that, as human beings, we are social creatures desiring community and relationship.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

Four steps for accounting to weather the 4IR

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will profoundly change the world of accounting. But agile companies stand to benefit from these changes.

Jodi Joseph, Divisional Executive, CaseWare Africa – Adapt IT – unpacks the different elements of the 4th Industrial Revolution and specifically what they mean for accounting professionals in terms of how they run their businesses and avail of the opportunities for growth that this latest technology era brings.

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Accounting, or accountancy, is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilisations. Italian Luca de Pacioli – recognised as the father of accounting and bookkeeping – published his work on double-entry bookkeeping, as long ago as 1495.  The profession has weathered the challenges and opportunities of each of the first three industrial revolutions, but the changes looming in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) look set to take place faster than any that came before it.

Throughout the ages, the fundamental purpose of the profession has stayed consistent – to:

• provide reliable financial information,
• help businesses stay compliant with ever increasing regulations
• and take up the role of trusted advisor for people who want to run businesses and make money.

This purpose will remain true throughout the 4th industrial revolution. But how we will provide reliable financial information and what a trusted advisor will need to do and know, will change.

Driving these changes will be certain key 4IR technologies:

• Blockchain. In a world of fake news and a drive for total transparency, the Blockchain equals the Truth.
• As an incorruptible chain of blocks where each block contains data of value which is validated by all nodes in the network, information stored on the blockchain can never be deleted or altered.  This technology is viewed as the future of land registries due to the myriad of benefits it offers and its potential to greatly reduce property fraud. Blockchain technology underpins ‘smart contracts’, which are programmable contracts that self-execute when certain conditions are met, and offer the possibility that transactions could complete much more quickly when combined with a blockchain registry.
• Big data and cloud computing capabilities. As public expectations change and accountants and auditors must review all information of a company at scale, big data and cloud computing capabilities supports data acquisition. At the same time, data analytic tools are now smarter than ever before. Patterns that could never be detected before are now available at a click of a button.
• Internet of Things. IoT solutions support stock control and risk management for accounting clients across all sectors, enabling accounting efficiency and improving profitability.
• Artificial Intelligence. AI programmes are set to intelligently enhance process automation, reducing the risk of human error and improving efficiency and compliance.

In the short to medium term we see all 4th IR technologies significantly improving the efficiency of the profession – it should be far quicker and cheaper than ever before to process more information, and the quality of outputs to inform decisions should also vastly improve.

Four steps to adapting to the change

For the accounting profession, these new technologies bring with them sudden change, but also significant opportunities. To weather the change and enter the 4IR on a competitive footing, accounting should take the following four steps.

Step one – Focus on purpose

Throughout the ages the accounting profession has existed to help people, governments and economies make good decisions about the allocation of resources and to hold others to account for those decisions.

Better technologies will only enable the profession to deliver on its purpose better than ever before. Improvements will be on speed and quality of information for all participants in the ecosystem.

Step Two – Exploit powerful technologies

To fully exploit new technologies, we need to be clear about what they can do and how they can help. Be informed and get involved so that technologists help solve fundamental business problems in new ways. Clients will look to you to bring some of these answers.

In preparing to exploit 4IR technologies, accounting must focus on leveraging 3IR technologies, automating the practice and ensuring quality data exists today.

Step Three – Think radically

As a profession, we need to be open to more profound change. Research is showing that humans and computers working together produce better results than computers in isolation. We need to think about how we will use technology to leverage the truly human qualities that make the profession effective –  such as professional scepticism, leadership, empathy and creativity.

Step Four – Be adaptable

Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, so it is impossible to predict how far it will get in replacing human decision making. Therefore, accounting professionals will need to take a flexible approach when thinking about the future. Skills will also have to adapt, with a concerted effort made to understand new technologies and data.

Accounting must also understand clients’ appetite to leverage technologies. Growing numbers of clients are using online cloud accounting packages – not to perform the accounting role, but to take up parts of the process that serve them, such as instant invoicing or chasing up their own collections. The impact of this is better cash flow for clients and better data for accounting to work with.

Most of all, the 4IR means accounting will have to move quickly, get with this change, and stay agile, as this revolution cannot be ignored.

Taking financial reporting into the digital era

5 measures to future proof reporting and preparing for a 4IR environment

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive for CaseWare Africa, Adapt IT.

Managing the financial reporting process in a structured way that is easy to understand, is challenging in a fast-moving world fraught with regulatory and compliance complexities, with the volume of things to account for growing at an unprecedented rate.

 

 

The complexity of this environment is set to increase in the 4th Industrial Revolution. With more technology to empower financial professionals than ever before, this has not eliminated professional conduct that is void of ethics, good governance and sound judgement. The recent bout of South African corporate scandals, questionable audit practices, trading suspensions and financial reporting restatements, bear testament to that getting it right is about more than just embracing technology.

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At the same time, technology is the key enabler to empower finance professionals and provide them with the tools necessary to drive higher standards and the speed of execution that modern business demands. It is paramount for these professionals to automate core business processes and repetitive tasks, not only to weather the changes the 4IR will ultimately bring, but to shift focus to expertise and skills that cannot be emulated by machines.

5 key measures to future-proof financial reporting are:

1. Automate absolutely everything

In financial reporting, manual inputs, amendments and calculations are prone to error, particularly when teams are working to tight deadlines. As the pressure mounts, teams are forced to take shortcuts, skip steps and make assumptions.

At CaseWare, we are continuously surprised at how many large corporate firms still consolidate using Excel. Aside from risking macros and formulas that may go wrong, managing this understanding and complexity over time is extremely tedious. To avoid this, organisations need to connect all business processes directly with systems and platforms to allow them to process, calculate and store data automatically, centrally, securely and – as far as possible – in real time. They can then deploy reporting tools on top of this to set up all the insights they need, and enable automated financial reporting.

This empowers teams with more time to apply the much needed value-added qualities that are uniquely human, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation, relationship building, judgement and advice.

2. Standardise reporting and KPIs

Centralising and automating all data creates an ecosystem the business can continuously supplement and enrich. This then empowers the organisation to define and implement all the standardised reporting they need, in a consistent way, automated end-to-end and on an ongoing basis.

In the case of IFRS 9 for example, the challenge is not specifically what must be disclosed, but how to arrive at what the disclosure requires, as the datasets needed are not always readily available and might be difficult to work with. Therefore, business needs to look wider than just financial reporting data and treat all data as a strategic asset that must be well measured, collected fluidly, stored on a large scale and combined in a strategic fashion. Big data and running complex calculations are becoming a reality that more and more businesses will have to come to grips with, and build strong capabilities for.

Achieving all of this is highly powerful, as businesses are then able to define, measure and report KPIs on insights that drive their success in ways they have never before been able to do.

3. Simplify understanding

From a regulatory and legal perspective, financial reporting must adhere to very specific disclosure and compliance standards. However, in most organisations, the majority of employees are not financial professionals and they may have limited ability to readily understand this information.

By centralising data and standardising reporting, it becomes possible to institute organisation-wide management and operational reporting that empowers employees at all levels with metrics and KPIs they can easily understand. It also gives them a clear view into how they are able to influence them. This is immensely powerful in creating the right incentives across a business.

4. Drive an environment of transparency

Obfuscation, disinformation and fake news thrive in a setting where perception is disconnected from reality and facts. With modern technology at their disposal, companies are now better placed than ever before to create an environment of transparency. And with blockchain ledgers increasingly being implemented within transactional system back-ends, organisations are better equipped to validate the integrity of who did what, and in which order.

5. Surface problems immediately

In a world where data is a strategic asset, we are now able to make greater sense of all our transactional data and process insights – for example from our general and subsidiary ledgers. We can connect these datasets to processes that catch outliers and questionable activities instantly, and set up exception reporting which can be surfaced from the executive level, down through the organisation to a level of detail which everyone can act on immediately. These systems are already starting to incorporate machine learning and AI capabilities to spot problems and take action faster than ever before. However, it is very difficult to take advantage of these technologies if data is not centralised.

It is now more important than ever not to wait for audit findings, but instead to empower every employee to be their own compliance officers and create an environment where problems are surfaced quickly with data, and dealt with decisively.

As organisations brace themselves for the impact of the 4IR, they should take advantage of the platforms, systems and automation at their disposal already today and work to build the appropriate technical capabilities and skills within their finance teams. Those that invest and continually increment in their technology foundation, will be well placed to take advantage of 4IR technologies as they mature.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology. He has spent the last 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA. Christiaan recently joined the Adapt IT group where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

CaseWare Africa launches mSCOA template

CaseWare Africa has launched its mSCOA template which will automate the process of complying with the National Treasury’s directive for municipalities to align their annual financial statements with the Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts.

 

 

National Treasury’s initiative is aimed at ensuring that municipal annual financial statements are standardised in order to facilitate seamless planning, budgeting and reporting using the same datasets, and that all the data complies with the Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations (MBRR) and Generally Recognised Accounting Principles (GRAP).

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This common dataset can then also be used when municipalities report to National Treasury and indirectly to Parliament.

“This initiative by National Treasury is to be welcomed because it will help ensure that there is ‘one version of the truth’ when it comes to municipal finances, and also that Treasury (and thus Parliament) is receiving audited figures drawn from the annual financial statements,” says Stephan van der Merwe CA (SA), Product Manager, CaseWare Africa, an AdaptIT company.

Mr Van der Merwe says that CaseWare Africa’s mSCOA template is based on the same technology used in our GRAP template which is currently in use by a wide range of users, including public entities, TVET colleges, trading accounts, traditional authorities, municipal entities and municipalities. The new mSCOA template will use the data derived from the reporting entity’s ERP system to populate the template, and then automate the production of annual financial statements that comply with the illustrative specimen issued by National Treasury on 29 July 2019.

The CaseWare mSCOA template will ensure that only the portions of the template applicable to the entity will be populated, and the software will automatically adjust pagination and references accordingly.

“Even more important, automation supports greater data integrity because the data values are drawn directly from the financial system, and cannot easily be adjusted. This greatly reduces risk both for the reporting entity and the National Treasury, which can now rely on getting audited figures that accurately reflect the reality on the ground,” he explains. “In true CaseWare style, mSCOA is taking a hugely complex process and making it both simple and user-friendly,” he concludes.

“By using CaseWare Africa’s mSCOA template, municipalities can comply much more easily with National Treasury’s directive and greatly improve their financial management, while reducing impact on their hard-pressed financial staff.”

About CaseWare Africa

CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT, is the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software and is used in over 130 countries worldwide. Our 20 000 users across Africa, consist of audit and accounting firms, government entities, municipalities as well as large blue-chip companies.

Audit Quality – a Strategic Imperative

“Audit quality and independence needs to be aligned”

Edwin Selbst, Owner SARE Consulting, Assurance and Quality Specialist, lifts the lid on the production of Quality Audits.

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Co-Dependence of Quality and Ethics

Recent audit scandals and failures, both locally and internationally, have served to highlight the crucial need for quality and ethics – both need to be positioned front and centre of every: audit firm; regulatory body; shareholders; business leaders and the greater investment community’s, agenda. Audit quality and independence needs to be aligned to ensure that the expectation gap in the market is narrowed and to ensure investor confidence is restored.

What is the backdrop to this?

“Audit quality is directly linked to ethics”

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) revised the International Code of Ethics in 2018 and audit regulators around the world responded with local amendments to their ethical codes. As audit quality is directly linked to ethics and specifically independence, this necessitated audit firms to respond to incorporate the additional requirements in their audit quality systems. A system of quality control sits at the forefront of audit quality maintenance as it focuses on: the independence of audit teams; the servicing of clients with competence plus due professional care; providing skills that will deliver audit quality whilst ensuring familiarity threats do not prevent the achievement of quality.

Audit Quality and Independence

“The managing partner of a firm is responsible for overall quality”

While audit quality is a collective effort, responsibility rests on leadership. Organisation’s quality control manuals incorporate the policies and procedures required to effectively carry out a quality audit. In the audit context, this means the managing partner of a firm is responsible for overall quality. On an audit engagement, an engagement partner is responsible for the audit quality for audit opinions which he issues.

“Independence is crucial”

Independence in the assurance market is crucial. The greatest challenge is how the auditor is perceived by other stakeholders. It is in this context that regulators around the world have focused on the independence aspect of ethics. As audit quality is directly linked to an auditor’s perceived independence, numerous improvements to quality control systems have been implemented to enhance independence. Enhancements include: clarification of roles such as key audit partners, external quality control reviewers as well as those that provide technical knowledge. Cooling off periods have been increased in order to further reduce the familiarity threat – this is where members of an assurance team either rotate; move off an engagement, or change roles while still involved. Increased levels of protection have also been introduced for clients where an audit firm has custody of client money or assets.

Focus of Audit Quality

“It’s a winning formula”

Enhancements to audit quality implemented as a result of international changes include:

    • Clarification of roles and responsibilities of key players as part of the assurance model.
    • Additional guidance around inducements received by the auditor, including gifts and hospitality.
    • The management of self-interest threats and the appropriate use of safeguards.
    • Alternative courses of action to be followed where a safeguard is not deemed an adequate response to reduce a threat to an acceptable level.

Are you compliant?

“You need to get with the programme”

The changes to the International Code of Ethics were effective from 15 June 2019, mandating all audit firms to implement same as part of their system of quality control. In this way they will ensure that they have responded to international and local compliance requirement and updated their systems of quality control to provide stakeholders with the enhanced independence and audit quality upgrades which are now effective.

Brief Bio:

Edwin Selbst, Owner SARE Consulting, Assurance and Quality Specialist
Edwin is a Registered Auditor and Chartered Accountant South Africa. He has in excess of 20 years in the assurance market, previously Head of Assurance at W.consulting and prior to that was the audit technical partner at a medium-sized audit firm with a focus on both listed and family owned businesses. Edwin is the past chairman of SAICA’s Assurance Guidance Committee and still an active participant at the IRBA’s Committee for Assurance Standards.

Technology is Driving the Accounting Value Proposition

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa.

Technologies such as automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud are changing accounting practice business models and advancing the entire sector value chain.

 

 

The enabling of new business models for accounting practices is a key change being brought about by new technologies. Instead of allocating up to 50% of the working day to repetitive tasks, those accounting professionals successfully harnessing automation are able to dedicate more time to offer additional services, such as consulting and support in strategic financial planning.

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The widespread adoption of cloud-based solutions is enabling more flexibility and mobility for accounting practitioners, and intelligent software is enabling seamless integration between various systems and financial packages, which eliminates the need to manually export and collate inputs for reporting purposes, for example.

These advances support the changing business model the market is increasingly demanding – whereby clients want predictable and managed cash flows, so they want to pay for an outcome, not a billable hour. By introducing greater efficiencies, reducing resources needed, and speeding up the time taken to deliver an outcome, accounting practitioners are able to meet this growing demand and simultaneously scale up the practice.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Accountability

AI is being deployed to support process automation in the accounting sector, and we can expect to see it being harnessed more in years to come. However, it should be noted that accounting is a highly regulated sector, and therefore the fundamental issue when introducing AI into this environment is accountability. The legal responsibility still rests with the individual or the function, and while AI can certainly support accounting, it cannot take over the function.

Automation and advanced new software solutions are widely in use to support the accounting function today, helping to reduce resources allocated to repetitive processes, streamline operational functions and enhance communications with clients, says Brink.

Accounting practices are employing systems to automate and enhance invoicing, payment and reconciliation; to integrate disparate systems quickly and easily; to support batch functions; and to support compliance, for example. They may also opt to harness instant messaging to send clients reminders or update them on progress, and social media for marketing and information.

Is Automation set to Replace the accountant?

Hardly, but automation will change the practitioner’s role to a more consultative and strategic one – which is a positive move. Beyond the accounting practice, automation supports efficiencies for the entire value chain – from the regulator or other authority, through to the accounting practice’s end client, all of whom benefit from faster, simpler, more efficient accounting processes.

Over time we can expect to transform from desktop-based work to a completely cloud-based environment, with automation helping practitioners to produce outcomes more efficiently. As market leaders in financial reporting and auditing software, CaseWare Africa is constantly embedding more automation and more advanced features into our solutions to address both high-level functions and real-world challenges. Our current focus areas include more efficient integration between systems, intelligent solutions to underpin compliance, and products to ensure quality results, increased effectiveness, and improved profitability for audit, tax and secretarial operations.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.
Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology. He has spent the last 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA. Christiaan recently joined the Adapt IT group where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

Fast-tracking reporting for optimal public sector resource deployment

Fast-tracking reporting for optimal public sector resource deployment

By Stephan van der Merwe Product Manager – Public Sector at CaseWare Africa, a division of AdaptIT

Well I think you would all agree that South Africa has seldom had a greater need for compliance in reporting, fiscal responsibility and transparency than it does at present. But compliance with National Treasury reporting processes and requirements may not be making optimal use of your public sector resources at hand.

 

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As our country strives to transition to more efficient government processes in an Industry 4.0 environment, automation, and a range of next generation technologies, present solutions to the reporting challenges currently facing provincial and national government departments.

The cumbersome process of preparing financial statements is a key challenge especially in the case where this is done manually – which is quite common.  Doing it this way requires extensive time and effort: it also presents the very real risk of human error creeping in. Should an error occur, skills resources across the relevant departments and National Treasury itself have to be deployed to identify the error and investigate whether it represents mismanagement or fraud.   This results in a time devouring exercise involving the valuable resource of  senior skills  that must focus on drafting and checking reports and investigating errors, leaving virtually no time for them to apply their expertise to analysing, probing and understanding the reports.

“Automation presents an immediate solution to the challenge of maximising high-level financial skills resources, while at the same time supporting compliance and transparency”

 

It is incredible that this still happens when one word solves the entire problem – Automation!

This presents an immediate solution to the challenge of maximising high-level financial skills resources, while at the same time supporting compliance and transparency. Departments can provide National Treasury with reports in the required formats with minimal resources and effort, while still supporting the drive towards more efficient, transparent management of taxpayers’ money. Not only can automation slash the time you take to import data to the necessary formats; it also eliminates the risk of human error in reporting.  The result is that investigations are limited to those cases that legitimately require investigation. In addition, automation supports reporting throughout the financial year, enhancing your decision-making processes through the availability of up to date information.

CaseWare Africa has launched and refined an efficient template for the Modified Cash standard developed by the Office of the Accountant General in National Treasury to mandate the principles by which national and provincial departments should present their financial accounts. CaseWare’s templates automate the onerous process of compiling financial statements in a prescribed format, allowing national and provincial departments to produce statements that comply with the guidelines issued by National Treasury with the minimum of extra work, and with increased accuracy.

“CaseWare’s templates are an excellent example of private sector innovation to support public sector efficiencies and transparency.”

The Modified Cash template can be set up to draw the necessary data from the state’s central accounting system, Basic Accounting System (BAS), as well as the management information system, Vulindlela. This information is used to populate Microsoft Word and Excel reports automatically from a single basic data source, eliminating the challenge of version control. If trial balances are updated during the process of creating the financial statements, it is easy to re-import the data into the Excel or Word reports.

Now available to South African national and provincial departments, CaseWare’s templates are an excellent example of private sector innovation to support public sector efficiencies and transparency.

Brief Bio: Stephan van der Merwe, Product Manager, Public Sector, CaseWare Africa – a division of AdaptIT division

Stephan is an immensely experienced executive in the financial services industry. He was an audit manager at the Auditor General where he served large public entities. His tenure there was the catalyst that developed his passion for auditing in the public sector.

He joined CaseWare Africa in 2008 (at that time the company was CQS Holdings and renamed in 2017 to CaseWare Africa following its acquisition by Adapt IT).  Stephan’s personal industry experience has helped him to apply his knowledge to CaseWare’s products and add value that is not only technically sound but also industry relevant.