Audit, assurance & advisory

Possible careers within this industry
Auditor | IT consultant | Sector specialist | Tax expert | Management consultant

Working for a professional services firm such as EY exposes you to a range of industries and companies. Alongside auditing, EY and rivals PwC, KPMG and Deloitte, advise South Africa’s largest corporates on some of the most difficult challenges facing their businesses, whether these are of a regulatory nature or pertain to technology, product development or customer service.

Audit, assurance and advisory firms have to keep a firm handle on the drivers of change in the industries they audit and advise. In South Africa, the ‘big four’ are EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC. These firms produce a massive number of research reports annually, which unpack trends in various sectors, analyse the impact of emerging risks and technologies on different industries and essentially try to help corporates make sense of the world.

What to study

The most direct way to get into a professional services firm is through accounting or actuarial science articles, which would require studying a commerce or business science degree with a specialisation in either accounting or actuarial science. Once you’ve completed your articles – which would involve auditing some of the biggest companies in South Africa – you might find opportunities to move into the advisory side of the business if that is where your interest lies. It goes without saying that rapid advances in information technology (IT) mean these firms are after young talent skilled in IT, including computer programmers and software engineers.

Did you know?

In South Africa, the industry is an old and respected one: The first professional institute for accountants in the country was the Institute of Accountants and Auditors, formed in the South African Republic in Johannesburg in 1894, with 65 members.

The four largest accounting firms in the world are EY, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG. EY has more than 700 offices in 150 countries and employs more than 212 000 people. PwC is the largest professional services firm in the world, a title it reclaimed from Deloitte in 2015, according to the Financial Times. Although PwC has fewer employees, it pips Deloitte in revenue. EY is third biggest, followed by KPMG, BDO and Grant Thornton.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) was ranked number one in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report 2010/2011 in the category of ‘Strength of Auditing and Reporting Standards’. Membership of SAICA is voluntary, but chartered accountants entering public practice are required to register with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, the statutory body controlling that part of the profession involved with public accountancy.

Featured employers

  • Accenture (Official publication sponsor)
  • EY (Audit, assurance, and advisory sector sponsor)
  • Mazars

Soft Skills

  • Organised
  • Detail orientated
  • Proactive
  • Communicator

Salary (Monthly)

  • Chartered accountant:
    R15 585 – R65 030
  • Actuarial scientist:
    R20 525 – R109 469
  • Management consultant:
    R16 746 – R81 913