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31 March 2003

Standard Bank produces top quality chartered accountants

Four chartered accountants have qualified at Standard Bank through an innovative training programme, known as TOPP (Training Outside of Public Practice).

This programme enables aspiring chartered accountants to qualify as CAs by completing their articles in industry instead of at an auditing firm. The main focus is on financial management rather than on external auditing.

Says Ben Samwell, TOPP training officer at Standard Bank: "Standard Bank's TOPP programme is fundamentally different to traditional TOPP programmes in that it aims to engender a culture of accounting excellence and vibrant growth amongst accounting professionals and within the company.

"The Standard Bank TOPP programme is a holistic programme that not only provides accounting education and experience, but also helps the trainee to develop their business knowledge, life skills and professional and ethical values."

He said that the programme had been extremely successful in the short time that it had been operating and continued to go from strength to strength.

One of the reasons that the TOPP programme was developed was because a vast number of chartered accountants were leaving public practice after qualifying and taking up positions in commerce. This often resulted in re-training as traditional training focused on auditing rather than financial management and business principles.

In addition, the programme enables training organisations to train and develop chartered accountants that will have detailed knowledge of their business, risks, processes, culture and systems; but at the same time have specialised technical knowledge on the regulatory, accounting, taxation and financial management issues relating to that industry.

Chartered accountants who work in commerce are required to cover all aspects of the company's financial management, including tax issues, financial accounting, internal audit, management accounting, and get exposure to related information technology systems.

Advantages of training under the TOPP programme include:

  • Corporate experience early in a trainees' career
  • Practical experience in the various specialised financial areas
  • Dedicated training provided by chartered accountants with experience in commerce
  • Specialised training in the industry where trainees prefer to be after articles
  • The general corporate benefits available to all staff in that entity
To date, the Standard Bank TOPP programme has nine graduates who have been placed in managerial positions throughout the organisation, and who now form part of the TOPP Alumni. The programme currently has five third-year, two second-year and six first-year students on training in various areas in the bank.

Karen Muthen, a chartered accountant who qualified in 2003 through the bank's TOPP programme, achieved an honours pass and was placed first in the country in the 2002 SAICA Qualifying Exam Part 2 (Financial Management).

Says Karen: "Being accepted onto Standard Bank's TOPP programme was a life changing opportunity. It was an ideal platform from which to launch my career, mainly because of the extensive financial management training, as well as the network of professional relationships that were built and nurtured over the three years."

For further information, please contact:
TOPP Human Resources
Group Finance
(011) 636 1403 - Tel
(011) 631-8121 - Fax
topp@groupfin.sbic.co.za