As aspiring Chartered Accountant (SA)’s, we all know the natural procession of the 3 year under grad degree, one-year honours, followed by 3 years of intense training and experience during audit articles (also known as a training contract). This includes 2 sets of board exams (ITC and APC). If you are successful in all these steps, then you have courageously obtained your title of CA(SA). This is a long and arduous process but well worth the time, effort, and the ultimate achievement of becoming a Chartered Accountant – a respected business professional.

In the process of completing all the above steps, we often forget the importance of our articles, one of the most important milestones of our careers. Whilst many view articles as merely a steppingstone to the end goal, I have found that articles were one of the most important and crucial steps on the way to becoming a professional. 

From my 3-year period of articles, I learned the following: 

  • Though we have completed our studies and obtained all the theoretical knowledge required, articles expose you to a wide variety of tasks that enables you to take the theory learnt, apply it in practice and evaluated the consequences of the practice undertaken. 
  • Having the theory is one step of the process. However once you gain exposure to the wide variety of audits, different scenarios and complex accounting transactions that you may not ever have thought about, this is when you learn the most. These experiences allow you to broaden your knowledge on the accounting and auditing standards, statutory and tax laws and teach you how to exercise your knowledge and ensure that you are ever learning. One constant is change, and if you want to play the game, continuous learning and development will keep you prepared.
  • One might assume that you already know so much from your studies, but ultimately articles teach you that there is still so much to learn. A curious mind always finds something new, something different and something unexpected and there is rarely an audit where you have not learnt something completely new. There is never a dull moment in auditing!
  • Though we are required to keep up to date with new reporting standards and laws that are implemented, your articles naturally force you to stay on top of developments.
  • Articles is also an important process for character building. As an article clerk you are required to collaborate with a team, teaching you how to work with others and clients. As you grow into each year of your articles, you are tasked with more responsibilities, caring for and supervising trainees on your team, and training your peers to a certain extent. This teaches you managerial skills. Most importantly these are skills that will be required and used in any job or career path you may choose after their articles period.
  • It is an opportunity to develop problem solving skills that will carry you far, no matter what career path you may choose after your articles. It teaches you to become a critical thinker.
  • Lastly, your attitude is one of the key determinations of and considerations in the outcomes of your articles. If you are determined to learn, grow, and grab every opportunity, along with an overall optimistic or positive attitude, you will only walk away stronger and wiser than when you started.

I believe that articles are an important opportunity that no trainee accountant should ever let go to waste. It is an opportunity to learn an immense amount, gain knowledge and skills that will better equip you to take on the world both in and outside of the audit world and create a career knowing you have taken every opportunity to be the best you can. 

These 3 years are not simply a stepping stone that you need to “get through”. It’s actually the most important opportunity to learn, take in as much as you can, up-skill yourself and step over the finish line of articles knowing you have way more to offer than when you started. You’ll also make so many new and diverse friends along the way, so make sure that you work hard but still enjoy life to the fullest.

The learning does not end with the completion of articles – it is just beginning. So never stop taking the opportunity to do so.

Shruti Maharaj

Manager: Audit, Johannesburg

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