The secret of many CA(SA) students (and what you can do about it)

You are studying to be a CA(SA) but have a secret.  You spend lots of your time doing tutorials and reading standards.  You are busy meeting new people, playing sport and taking part in societies.  You are living life to the full.  But you have a secret.

When Med students get together, they end up all talking about their studies and the same pattern emerges with other groups of students.  But with CA(SA) students, things are generally different.

How often do you catch them talking about SA business news?  How often do you see them write business articles for student newspapers?  It does happen, but just not nearly enough times.  For too many CA(SA) students, the secret is that they are not that interested in their studies!  They have got lost in all the technical details and lost sight of the exciting world of business.  A successful business can have a transformative effect on SA by creating jobs and adding value to society, but many students don’t seem that excited about such prospects.  I know this is possible because I was largely that kind of CA(SA) student myself!

How about you?  Are you interested in the business world?  Are you reading and watching what is happening?  If not, might I suggest that you embrace my challenge – get involved!

I have recorded a 7 min video – which you can watch for free here – on our Learn Accounting website.  The video explains 4 steps on how to start exploring the business world:

  1. Find a business that interests you – where do you shop?  What products do you like?
  2. Research the industry it is in – who are competitors? How well are they doing?
  3. Ask questions from the perspective of different people – who are the suppliers? customers? management?
  4. Search for the Integrated Report – get insight into recent performance, strategy, risk management and so much more.

I am going to be down the line with you – in the short term, this probably will not translate into higher marks.  Keeping up with business news will require an investment of your time and the returns will only start appearing after awhile.  These returns will include a greater interest in your studies, better performance in job interviews and more clarity on the future direction of your career as you get to know where your interests lie.

Being aware of the business world will also improve your exam performance in the long term – especially at the Board Exam level, where SAICA examine your knowledge of Strategy, Risk management and Governance.  You don’t believe me?  Watch these 2 videos (Part 1 and Part 2) about the importance of qualitative factors when answering discussion questions – of course you need to be able to crunch the numbers but you must also be able to get into the shoes of management – something that is much easier to do if you are interested in the business world and reading widely!

This is hopefully the start of more CA(SA) students dominating social occasions with stories of what cool things are happening in SA business!  Give those Med students some of their own medicine for a change!

Paul Maughan

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