Betty answers your questions on bookkeeper certification

Dear Betty


My wife hired a book keeper/accountant for her business…what should we be asking for from him re certification, What do they have to show to us to make us comfortable that they are legit?



Good Day Thomas,


There are different levels of accounting requirements for different types of entities, so let me start with the levels from an accounting point view:

Bookkeepers – Only certified to prepare financials up to trial balance. To be used in-house by employers, or by really small SME’s that do not need to submit any kind of financials or reports to anyone. Basically just for personal record keeping. Bookkeepers will only have a certificate or diploma qualification, 3 months to a year usually.

Accountants – Certified to prepare financials up to balance sheet. To be used by businesses that are only required to have an annual review of their financial reports. Normally companies that has a PIS (Public Interest Score) of 350 or less, do not specifically need to be audited every year, only reviewed. These companies would use an accountant only, for cost-effective reasons. Accountants can have a vast range of qualifications, from diploma’s to degrees, and will most likely also have membership to a certified professional body.

Chartered Accountants – They are the only ones certified to audit companies as required by law. Most banks when asking for audited financial statements will only accept statements signed off by a chartered accountant. That is why they are the most expensive.

So depending on the size of your company and the needs that you have for financial reporting, the above should be enough to guide you.



Don’t forget that I’m here to answer your questions about the ICBA, or just queries about your accounting at work. All you have to do is email me with a copy of your ICBA membership certificate. Not yet a member? Send in your application form!

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Valid NOW until 26th November 2018


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Webinars on Special

Financial Administration Webinar

The Practical Approach to Financial Administration Webinar, is designed for individuals that are required to fulfill the financial administration function of a business who have no or very little understanding or knowledge of these required functions.

This webinar introduces a more practical approach to the financial administration of a business explaining all relevant documents to be completed to be kept on file, registrations required and all information to be stored.

This webinar is designed for office managers, personal assistants, administration clerks, support staff of business owners, receptionists and other financial staff that are responsible for the day to day financial administration of any business.

During the webinar, the following Topics are covered:

  • Registration – How and when to register for VAT
  • Department of Labour – When and How to register and for what
  • UI-8 – What this form is for and what to do with it
  • UI-19 – What this form is for and what to do with it
  • Staff Files – Relevant documents needed to keep in a staff file
  • Staff Payslips – When to supply an employee with a payslip and what information is needed to include
  • Staff Leave – How staff leave works and how to calculate unpaid leave
  • Leave – How annual leave works and how to calculate to pay out
  • CIPC – Annual return requirements and how to ensure that the company does not get deregistered because of failure to renew
  • Personal Income Tax – The company’s responsibility in terms of staff personal income tax as well as informing staff of their responsibility to submit their own income tax
  • Workmen’s Compensation – When to register for Workmen’s compensation, and how it works
  • PAYE, UIF & SDL – Relevant deductions from staff salaries and submissions to SARS. (EMP201 Submissions)
  • IRP5’s and IT3’s – Issuing of IRP5’s and IT3’s and when required (EMP501)

Wednesday – 28 November 2018
10am – 12pm
Book now

Compromise & Deferment of Arrear Taxes Webinar

Do you know how to approach SARS, to enter into an agreement
for a tax reduction or writing off of outstanding taxes?
Do you know that installment payments can be arranged
with SARS for long overdue taxes?
Have you failed to submit returns in time,
and need to lodge a Notice of Objection or Appeal?

This 2 hour webinar, will provide you with the required knowledge and understanding of the basics for completion of all relevant documentation needed for submission.

During the presentation, the following topics will be covered:

  • Penalties and Disputes
  • Compromises
  • Deferments
  • Waivers of Interest and Penalties
  • Current SARS practice regarding the above

Wednesday – 28 November 2018
1pm – 3pm
Book now

Live Workshops on Special

Basic Accounting:
13th March / 5th June – Midrand
14th May – Bellville
Book now

Bookkeeping Masterclass:
21st & 22nd Feb – Bellville
2nd & 3rd May – Midrand
Book now

Financial Administration:
12th March / 4th June – Midrand
16th May – Bellville
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VAT Basic:
14th March / 6th June – Midrand
9th April – Bellville
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VAT Masterclass:
5th & 6th Feb – Bellville
14th & 15th Feb – Midrand
5th & 6th March – KZN
3rd & 4th April – BFN
Book now

CD Courses on Special

Basic Accounting CD
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Business Valuation CD
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Financial Statements CD
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Trusts, Wills & Estate Planning CD
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VAT Administration Process CD
Order now

Monitoring of Fees and Time Records

For Invoicing, law firms, accountants, consultancies, and other professional services firms (whose principle activity is to “sell time”) need their staff to track and account for time accurately, so that they can invoice their clients correctly.

Professional services firms also want their people to maximize the amount of time they devote to generating revenue, while minimising the amount of time spent on administrative duties. By tracking time, they record how productive each person is by measuring the proportion of each day that he or she spends on chargeable work.

Recording the time spent on fixed price work allows the firm to analyze how accurate their estimating process is. If it turns out that work is regularly taking longer than expected, even when highly efficient people are doing it, this obviously eats into profits. On the other hand, if the reverse is true, businesses may lose work because their bids are noncompetitive.

Types of Timekeeping Systems

Card Clocking

People often think of this system first. Traditional time clocks used punch cards that were stamped with the time and date at the beginning of a worker’s shift, and then stamped again at the end. Time cards were then sent to payroll to be processed each pay period.

Today, this information is usually sent electronically, and can be tracked very accurately. There are portable systems that can be taken to different work sites – for example, in the construction industry. There are even biometric devices that use fingerprint recognition. This type of system provides added assurance that the person “clocking in” is actually in attendance.

Time Sheets

Time sheets are used to track items like attendance, break time, project time, and billable hours. They may include hourly rates and expense information. This then helps you evaluate time by worker, task, project, and client. Time sheets are very customisable and can be tailored to meet the exact needs of your organisation. They can either take the form of a spreadsheet, or a special time-tracking application that’s part of the organisation’s accounting software.

Computer-based Time Recording

These are computer applications that track the time someone spends working on specific projects or with particular clients.

There are two categories of software. The first type allows you to switch back and forth between tasks. This way, you can track hours per project, distinguish between billable and non-billable tasks, manage absences, calculate overtime, and print reports automatically.

The second type runs in the background of your computer and records exactly what you’re working on each second of the day. The software operates by continuously taking screen shots, and it allows you to quickly recall what you worked on, and for how long.



Characteristics of a Professional Accountant

The role of a professional accountant is a vital one, assisting clients with financial matters that are often highly confidential. Accountants perform a number of tasks within this role, including book keeping, VAT, PAYE, Provisional Tax, financial statements, business plans and many other services. While accounting skills and education are the foundation of any accounting professional, there are a number of additional characteristics that are required of a professional accountant.

These include the following traits:

  •  Skills, knowledge and expertise

The most critical traits of any accounting professional is a solid education that provides a broad range of skills, knowledge and expertise within the various aspects of accounting services. Training ensures that accountants are fully versed across all accounting skills, so that they are able to perform tasks that are required of them. Without adequate education and training, accountants are not able to provide a high level of service excellence to clients, and also run the very serious risk of making mistakes or other lapses of judgment caused by a lack of understanding.

  •  Commitment to strong values

A number of values need to be held by a professional accountant, including integrity, accountability, reliability, ethics, moral reasoning, honesty, trustworthiness and confidentiality. These values play an important role, and help to ensure that accountants follow a strong set of internal rules that govern the way that they do business on a daily basis.

  •  Belongs to a recognised accountancy body

Accountants should also belong to a recognised accountancy body that ensures that they are subject to the disciplinary powers of that body. Some of the bodies within South Africa include Southern African Accounting Association, Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants; Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Chartered Secretaries of South Africa, The South African Institute of Professional Accountants, Institute of Commercial and Financial Accountants of SA and South African Institute of Tax Practitioners.

  • Upholds professional standards

The accountant must also uphold professional standards and approaches within the disciplines of recording, analysing, measuring, reporting, forecasting and offering advice and support in financial, management and strategic decisions, thereby adding value for their clients and stakeholders. Professional conduct plays an essential part of the accountant’s role, and is closely linked to the commitment of values.

  • Commitment to on-going professional development

The final important trait of an accounting professional is the commitment to consistent professional development. Whether this is continuing to broaden their skills, obtain further qualifications within the industry, or any other professional achievements, it is crucial that the professional accountant is committed to improving their skills on a continuous basis.



Accounting technology to help make your practice perfect

Transform your workflow

There’s more to accounting technology than core software like Xero. There’s a whole world of apps that integrate with online accounting platforms to do some really smart work for you.

We’ve written a separate guide on apps that your clients will love. This guide highlights accounting technology for advisors.

1. Automate your admin

Getting new clients is exciting. Onboarding them isn’t. Thankfully you can now automate a lot of the niggly paperwork that needs to get done.

An onboarding app allows you to create and send online proposals which clients can sign electronically. Once they do, they’re automatically set up as an organisation in your accounting software. A copy of the engagement letter is stored with the account for compliance purposes. You can also use these packages to automatically raise invoices for clients who are on a subscription service.

Onboarding apps:

2. Digital marketing and client communications

A new type of app allows you to create an entire marketing campaign in one single place and publish it everywhere at once, including through email and social media. This technology can even provide – or help you find – quality content to redistribute, so you don’t have to write original material every time.

The software then reports back on how the content performed – did people look at it, click on it, follow a link back to your site? And it can give you really smart suggestions about when to communicate with certain contacts, and what to talk with them about. It allows you to send timely, meaningful communications to clients and leads without spamming them.

Apps for digital marketing and client communications:

3. File management apps

Keep all your client documents online so you can jump in and make edits or send files from anywhere. Cloud storage really frees you from the office while saving you from the hassle of daily backups and server management. Some file management apps come with features built specifically for accountants and bookkeepers. They allow you to pull client data straight from your practice software, so you can auto-populate documents with the information you need. And yes, the right app will allow you to open, read and edit both Google and Microsoft Office files.

Apps for file management:

4. Produce visual reports that clients actually understand

Despite all the work that goes into creating financial reports, they aren’t very well used by many clients. Major insights are buried in tables of numbers that many small business owners struggle to interpret. That limits your ability to talk to them about what’s going on in their business.

Charts and graphs have always been easier to understand, and now they’re easier to produce. Clever apps read data from accounting software and create visual reports in minutes. It’s a great way to help clients understand their business. Your reports will be valued far more, and it’ll open the door for you to offer strategic advice.

Reporting apps:

5. Get into forecasting and help clients take the next step

Every business owner wants to know what’s coming. How much money will they bank this year? How much debt will they be able to repay? What investments will they be able to make? Creating those projections will give your clients a sense of control over their future.

Many reporting apps have forecasting tools. They’ll sync with online accounting software and use either an existing budget or recent actuals as a starting point. From there you can build cash flow forecasts and create a variety of scenarios for the business. As fresh data comes into the accounting software, the forecasts will update. Consider creating some forecasts then schedule regular client catch-ups to track actuals versus budget throughout the year.

Forecasting accounting technology:

6. Use performance dashboards to drive advisory services

Once you’ve started producing visual reports for your clients, dashboards are the next step. They’re live reports that are constantly available online, and which update every day as fresh data comes into the accounting software. Clients can check the dashboard whenever they like, on their phone.

This is a great opportunity to deliver more services to your clients. Start by helping them pick the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will display on the dashboard. As results flow through, talk with your clients about what the dashboard is showing. There’ll be a lot of lessons to learn, so consider scheduling periodic management meetings. This instant access to business data really gets clients engaged, so it’s a great springboard into advisory services.

Dashboard apps:

See how a future-focused advisor uses accounting technology to grow her practice.

7. Be done with paper invoices and receipts

Clients really don’t like to hold onto receipts and invoices for business expenses, and many of them aren’t good at it. Records get lost all the time. With the right accounting apps, though, they can simply take a photo of them with their phone.

The app reads the info on the invoice, transcribes the data, and sends it into the client’s accounting software (along with the original picture). Clients can also use this technology to look after their electronic invoices. They simply forward the invoice to the app which files the data for them. That’s a huge load off your client’s mind. It also saves staff from slogging through mountains of data entry at the end of the financial year.

Expense accounting apps:

Accounting technology is booming

You don’t have to wait for your accounting software to add new features anymore. With cloud-based accounting, it’s easy for independent developers to produce online apps that integrate with your main accounting platform. That’s created a market where lots of small, innovative companies are producing really effective products.

These apps are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more. Check out some of the cool products in the Xero app marketplace and run the smartest, most efficient practice you can.



Why You Can’t Afford NOT to Have an ICBA Member on Your Team

We’ve all heard the adage, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” In the financial world, this saying rings true. Hiring the right staff is essential to a productive, effective and purposeful workplace. A wrong hire can cost an organization thousands of rand and countless hours of wasted productivity.


As a professional body, the ICBA awards designation to individuals who hold recognized qualifications and relevant work experience. What’s more, our members take their careers seriously – and this can have a direct impact on a companies bottom line.


Here’s why you can’t afford NOT to have an ICBA member on your team:



Assured Competence


Can you really trust a CV? Qualified ICBA members must hold an NQF Level 3 or higher qualification in finance, accounting, bookkeeping, business or office management. Members should also show a specific amount of work experience or experiential learning behind them. Both membership and experience is subjected to an extensive approval process by the ICBA and is vetted.  The result? Confidence in the knowledge that your hire has the right, accredited qualifications and relevant work experience. Peace of mind.


Up-to-date Expertise


The financial industry is constantly evolving and advancing. In order to stay abreast with current developments, financial industry professionals need to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date, or risk falling behind. To retain ICBA membership, members are required to complete at least 20 hours of professional learning yearly, and earn a minimum of 20 CPD points each year. This incentive to keep learning and growing is a major advantage to hiring an ICBA member. Conferences, workshops and webinars can spark new, innovative ideas, improve systems and add value to a company.


Employees take their Career Seriously


Lackluster employees can hurt a company. Members of professional bodies have already demonstrated that they take initiative. They are not moving through the motions of their job – rather they’re career driven individuals who have invested in themselves and their futures. This has a ripple effect. Motivated staff can improve productivity and effectiveness in every aspect of the role, as well as boost company morale.


Avoid Bad Hires


It’s not news to anyone. Replacing ineffective people is expensive. Recruitment, screening, onboarding – the rands rack up. Furthermore, turnover affects company culture. Choosing a qualified professional individual from the start can make a substantial difference. In the words of famed management consultant, Peter Drucker: “The toughest decisions are people decisions. They receive the least attention and are the hardest to ‘unmake.” Do you have the right people on your team?



Thinking of hiring an ICBA member? Find out more about the ICBA here.

4 Benefits of Attending Webinars

We know, you’re busy.

In this fast-paced, modern world, most of us find ourselves pressed for time and swamped with commitments! This begs the question – do you really have the time or energy to watch a webinar when you have a gazillion things on your plate?

Well, yes. Webinars are uniquely geared to meet the demands of modern life – quick, easy and effective. Despite what you may have been led to believe, these educational web- seminars or virtual workshops are not just for the Techy Trevors or IT Ivans of the world. No matter which industry you are in, webinars are an easy and valuable source of information. They can also be an important component of continuous professional development.

Still hesitant to click sign-up? Here are 4 Benefits of Attending Webinars:

  1. Hello Convenience

Webinars require little to no effort – just an online invite, quick sign-up and an internet connection. When the date and time arrives, if you can go, you go. If life happens and you can’t make it, no harm, no foul. You can always request the archived version later. Unlike traditional conferences or workshops, you do not have to take extensive time off work to travel, sit through lengthy speeches or interact with that awkward stranger placed next to you. In fact, you can watch a webinar from the comfort of your coach with a mug of coffee in hand or in your office cubicle. Piece of cake.

  1. Career Development

Knowledge is power! In order to advance in your career, you should never stop learning and expanding your knowledge. A real benefit of webinars is that they are uniquely positioned to deliver relevant and timely information designed specifically for your industry and area of expertise. They do not have to be planned months in advance and can be readjusted to incorporate changes. The result? The latest and greatest, up- to date industry-specific information. Plus, you should be confident that you are obtaining first-hand knowledge from subject matter experts.

  1. Networking Opportunities

Ignite your networking flame with online connections. Yes, webinars may not have quite the same effect as coffee breaks at a conference or workshop. However, online connections should not be underestimated! There are still many amazing opportunities to connect with hosts and collaborate with like-minded attendees in the financial industry. Get the most out of the digital experience and ask follow-up question in real time or communicate with fellow members in the questions and comments section. If anything, you’ll increase your LinkedIn followers!

  1. Stand Out from the Crowd

You cease to compete with your competitors if your knowledge trails behind. Expanding your knowledge acumen helps you stand out. The more you know, the more you can contribute and the greater difference you can make to an organisation – and your boss should take notice. This stands you in good stead for promotions and future career moves. Not to mention, a better chance of that spacious corner office!

The next time you see an ICBA webinar calendar reminder, don’t be too quick to dismiss it. Login, learn something new, gain a spark of inspiration. Who knows where it may lead?  Visit to find the latest webinar events.

Tax Ombud intervention secures R450m SARS refunds

Interventions by the Office of the Tax Ombud (OTO) in the 2017/18 financial year saw about R450 million in tax refunds paid to the first top ten taxpayers, the OTO said on Tuesday.


For the financial year, the OTO said, the SA Revenue Services (Sars) had implemented over 99% of recommendations made by the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe.


The OTO made the revelations as it presented its 2017/18 Annual Report at The Protea Fire & Ice Hotel, in Pretoria.


Judge Ngoepe told the more than 100 delegates in attendance at the event that complaints were for Value Added Tax (VAT) and Corporate Income Tax (CIT). The highest refund paid was R158 million in VAT. This was followed by R90 million, also in VAT.


He added that the organisation has experienced a significance increase in the number of contacts from 670 in the 2013/14 financial year, to over 17 000 in the 2017/18 financial year.


“We are pleased with how we have been able to help promote fairness in the country’s tax administration system and we look forward to working with other stakeholders not to just promote and protect the rights of taxpayers but also promote tax compliance,” Ngoepe said.


“This office has helped resolve thousands of taxpayers’ complaints against the revenue collector in the past five years but there is still much that needs to be done. “We have already brought about positive changes in the Tax Administration Act which have given us powers to investigate systemic issues and more independence from SARS, amongst others.”


The OTO said it would continue to travel across the country informing taxpayers about its services.


“We are also working closely with our government through the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), which is assisting in developing a business case for a cost-effective and independent organisational model,” the Judge said.


The launch of the report coincided with the OTO’s fifth anniversary since establishment.


Judge Ngoepe said the OTO was committed to helping ensure balance between Sars’ powers and duties, on the one hand, and taxpayer rights and obligations on the other. –