I’ll give you a job if you’ll give me a job.


I started my articles this week. You might be wondering why I’m not buried waist deep in donkey work – the truth is, none has been assigned to me. I spent the morning doing admin related things. Being part of a global organisation meant a tonne of conformity. I had to complete online courses the values of which were unclear to me but hey, at least they count towards my learning hours.

I’m sure the slavery will start soon enough so it’s best to enjoy the idle time while I still have it. The firm is pretty neat and everyone seems friendly enough. The atmosphere isn’t too claustrophobic and there are surprisingly few “suits” here. Even though the dress code is not as strict as some of the other Big Four firms, I still struggle to string together an outfit. Today I’m wearing a shirt that is pretty low-cut, but no-one has said anything. Must be my lack of cleavage – I knew it would come in handy one day!

One of the great things about E&Y Cape Town is that we don’t have to choose a sector. We are not confined to one industry and thus, we get a lot more exposure in terms of variety and variability. I’ve been allocated to Engen (Oil & Gas), Truworths (Retail), and UCT (Education) – which are completely different to each other. I hope the provisional planning doesn’t change because I am really happy with my clients. *fingers crossed*

In unrelated news: I’ve been driving my car for a couple of weeks now and it has already accumulated a few scratches and bruises. Nothing major though! I still struggle with the gears sometimes (such as pulling off on an incline in second gear, or putting it in third instead of fifth). But I’m still alive, so all is well in noob-ville.



This is a follow up of a previous post.

Decisions regarding our futures are probably the most important (along with what to have for breakfast and whether to wear the 3 inch or the 4 inch heels). Now that I am nearing graduation, I have to start thinking about what lies beyond the varsity enclosure: the big bad wolf world.

Throughout high school and the greater part of my undergraduate torture, I have always wanted to work for one of the Big Four auditing firms. But as time went on, my desire to join the “elitist snobs of the auditing sphere” slowly manifested itself into a desire to join the “elitist snobs of the finance sphere” (i.e. the big four banks). What sparked the change was not at all profound; it was merely the realization that auditing was mindlessly boring. On this note, I’m glad I didn’t sign my soul away in first year the way some of my friends did. I’d much rather have the option to pick my poison than to have a peace of mind (and regrettably be tied down to a 3 year life-sucking contract).

As we all know, what used to be TIPP (training inside public practice) and TOPP (training outside public practice) have fallen away. They have been replaced by SAICA’s competency framework.

The Competency Framework encapsulates the competencies (broad range of knowledge, skills
and attribtes) of a CA(SA) at entry point to the profession. These competencies have reference
to the CA(SA) as a leader with a professional accounting background (see above) and include –
• pervasive qualities and skills which are fully integrated with
• specific competencies.

Trainees have to be exposed to all 7 skills, but at varying degrees of focus depending on the company. Accounting and persuasive skills are compulsory. Up to 3 elective skills can be taken and the rest are residual skills. An auditing firm will pick assurance and tax as its elective whereas a financial firm will pick financial management and decision making. In other words, a trainee at an auditing firm will be required to complete more hours of assurance than a trainee at an financial services firm, but he will do fewer hours of financial management, etc.

So why is it that so many people are signed to audit firms when the alternative is so much more merry? The answer boils down to capacity. Auditing firms have approximately 9000+ trainees while financial services firms only have 400 odd. The retention rate for trainees once they have qualified as CAs is relatively low in the auditing firms as many of them take the earliest opportunity to escape to the financial cluster.

Unfortunately, the approved training offices for the financial management firms are all based in Johannesburg. If I have to pick between the financial hub of Africa or the scenic beauty of Cape Town (purely basing my choice on location), I would choose the latter in a heart beat. But is that worth more than doing what I am interested in? I’m not so sure.

At this point, I am going to apply to both sectors. Ultimately, I predict that I will lean towards whoever offers me a placement first.

To be or not to be

I’ve recently begun an application spree in search of a place for me to complete my articles.  To my dismay, quite a few places (namely: PwC and KPMG, et al.) only accept applications from SA citizens.  While I have lived in SA for 11 years, I have never bothered applying for citizenship, mainly due to the fact that China (mainland) doesn’t allow dual citizenships.  So, I have made a list of the pros and cons of applying for SA citizenship.


  1. More job opportunities
  2. Voting rights (although I doubt I would ever make use of that right)


  1. Giving up my Chinese citizenship – I don’t really get any benefits from retaining my Chinese citizenship but ceteris paribus, I would rather that than change because I am extremely patriotic, and I love my country.
  2. Harder to go abroad (?) – I’m not sure if this is true, but I heard (via the grapevine) that the UK (for example) is tightening visa issues to South Africans because so many of us are there already.  (Not that I’d ever want to live in the UK – the weather is just too depressing over there.)
  3. Too much effort – The few times I’ve visited Home Affairs have left me gasping for air.  The queues, the poor services and the general lack of intelligence amongst the staffing members mean a trip to Home Affairs is like a free fall into a bottomless abyss.  (Not quite so dramatic, but you get the picture).  Not to mention I study in Cape Town and I don’t have a car, so getting to Home Affairs will be a mission.

Other factors:

  1. I don’t qualify for BEE because my parents only arrived in SA post-1994.  As far as I know, only Chinese-South Africans who obtained citizenship pre-1994 are allowed BEE privileges.

Anyways, I only start my articles in 2012, which means I have one and a half years to decide yea or nay.