Financial Accountant

Financial accountants control the financial management systems of a business. Their role in a company is to extract and interpret information from financial records, advise on strategic direction, advise managers on daily financial decisions of a company, advise the board of directors, control the working capital of a business, ensuring that information with regard to debtors, creditors and stocks is maintained.

The exact duties that a financial accountant may be required to perform, would depend on the professional’s area of speciality. For example, a financial accountant may choose to specialise in internal auditing, management, public accounting or government accounting.

Regardless of the area of speciality, the primary responsibility of a financial accountant is to provide their client with financial guidance. This may include assisting with budgeting and developing financial plans, but may also include monitoring budgets and taking care of taxes on behalf of the client.

Personal Requirements

  • inquiring, analytical mind
  • ability to work logically, consistently and accurately
  • numeracy skills
  • good working knowledge of accounting and able to keep up to date with current financial rules and regulations
  • ability to discuss financial issues with both fellow professionals and those with little or no financial background
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • good management skills
  • willingness to work very hard and sometimes long hours
  • time-management skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

Prospective students must find out about selection dates and entrance requirements in good time, because some universities select according to the Grade 11 marks.

What to Study

Training is available by distance learning courses at colleges of further and higher education and private training providers.

The training is divided into academic and practical phases.
BCom (Acc) 3 years; BCom (Hons)(Acc) and CTA (Certificate Theory of Accounting) 1 - 2 years. During the following year, the qualifying examination of the Public Accountants board can be written. Practical training takes three years after obtaining a degree.

A Chartered Accountant is the highest professional qualification in accounting in South Africa and CA’s are very much in demand in the job market. Accounting graduates with lower qualifications (associate general accountants and associate accounting technicians) usually work as accounting officers, often not rising to the same levels without further studies to become CA’s.

The Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) programme is available to persons aged 16 years or over, regardless of academic qualifications. This may be studied through the ACCA’s tuition providers or by distance learning at the student’s own pace. In addition one year of practical experience in the workplace is required to obtain the qualification.

Degree: UNISA, UP, US, UKZN, RU, Wits, UFS, Monash, NWU, UCT, NMMU, UJ, UFH, UZ

Diploma: CUT, CPUT, DUT, TUT, VUT, and FET’s such as Northlink, Cape Town TVET.


Employment opportunities for accountants are excellent. The demand for their skills usually exceeds the availability of qualified people in the job market, so the financial rewards are generally substantially more attractive than in most other careers.

Employment options include:

  • registered firms of practising chartered accountants
  • in commerce and all kinds of industries
  • universities and colleges as lecturers
Accountants can also start their own private practice firms. Because accountants also have a lot of business knowledge, many of them start their own businesses.

Further Information

Institute of Commercial and Financial Accountants of Southern Africa (CFA)
Riviera Road Office Park (Block A)
4 – 8 Riviera Road
Tel: (011) 486-0283

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to financial accountants in your area and ask to observe them at work
  • if possible, try to get part-time work with a firm of financial accountants or auditors

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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