See Full Profile: Tableview Accountant: Nestene Botha
Were you always planning to be an accountant and why?
Nope. My parents gave me a choice - either medical specialist or chartered accountant. I picked CA(SA) because it was only 7 years, vs. the 15 years it takes to become a specialist. My parents wanted to ensure that I'd always be able to support myself no matter what. I did resent the CA Qualification in the beginning, to be honest, for all it has put me through, but since I started my own business I've never looked back. I enjoy the problem-solving side of auditing, strategy & tax, plus I can now explore my creative side by also adding digital marketing & blogging to my skill set. And because I'm so very creative - there is only one me - and clients that like me rarely leave. So its been tough, but its been good. I guess everything in life has a reason for happening. Plus, I get to give back to the community. I love giving valuable advice & assistance to NPO's & other community members who make a difference, but who don't necessarily know what to do on the control, risk & finance side. I can help them with all of that. And that makes me feel good.
When meeting with clients do they mostly come to your own premises or do you mostly go their theirs?
I mostly go to my clients
What is your preferred mode of communication with your clients?
Face to Face
Have you ever done an online video call with a client?
What do you love most about accounting?
The fact that I can use it (and the 7 years of hell I went through in order to obtain it) to help other people. My father always said - you have to have something, before you can give back to other people. Well now I have something - I have 7 years of extreme dedication & hard work & no social life whatsoever to give back to the people close to me. And you know what? When my firm becomes successful I'll have money too. And with that money I can help even more people around me.
Would you recommend accounting as a career for school-leavers, and why?
Yes, if you are committed & strong enough to last the 7 years and to come out the other side with your humanity intact. I'd recommend it because there is two things that people will always need, no matter how automated the world becomes: (1) Marketing (to get their products and/or services to their clients (2) Someone with financial skills to ensure that they are making a profit (and complying with tax and other laws) while they are busy dealing with need no 1.
What qualities should South African business people be looking for in their accountant?
Loyalty, trustworthiness & dedication. You are trusting this person with very sensitive, very personal information. You need to find someone that you can comfortably trust with your financial information. Someone that you can call when things are tough so they can recommend a strategy to get you through the tough times and someone you want to call when things are going well, because they've been apart of your success story every step of the way. Oh and definitely someone that is a registered tax practitioner so they can go to SARS for you. The last thing you want to do is get into trouble with SARS.
What is the biggest challenge facing accountants today?
I think most accountants would say the tough economy & digitization & globalization, because it increases the competition & automates a lot of the "donkey" work through software engineering and on top of that consumers have less money to spend, BUT I've seen some incredible entrepreneurs make the best of what we have so far so for me that isn't the biggest challenge.
I am super excited about digitization, cloud accounting & globalization. Because it automates a lot of the "donkey" work it gives creative problem-solvers like me a real chance to work closely with business owners in order to ensure their success. I'm not stoked about tough economic conditions, obviously, but it does create opportunities, at least, in the tourism industry, in international freelancing opportunities & for exporters. I mean, earn in USD, spend in ZAR, am I right? And you don't even have to go overseas for that. You can do that in your own home.
For me the biggest challenge today is rising software costs, Xero for example has to be paid in USD, and I earn Rands. That is the opposite of the dream.
Also, in a field of increased competition it is difficult for me to find my clients - those individuals who naturally share the same values I do and who need my services. I have to rely mainly on Word of Mouth for my marketing because there are so many accountants around. And because I am fairly new on the public practice seen, this is still limited. I do believe however, that once I do a fantastic job for one person, they will tell others, and then those people will get great service and they will tell others. So it will grow. For now, I just have to persevere.
Also, because I don't yet have the desired level of international tax knowledge, I can't offer tax services to international clients, even though I can probably offer them a better deal than accountants abroad (that is why CA(SA)'s are exported by the way). SAICA, our professional body, is one of the most recognized in the world, and CA(SA)'s are known for their technical expertise and fantastic work ethic.
A lot of SME owners also don't realize how much value a chartered accountant can actually add to their business. Dear SME owners, yes agreed you are fantastic, but there comes a time when you are going to need a reliable business "partner" to stand by your side and to help make the financial & strategic decisions and that is where the true value of having a CA(SA) on your side comes in.
What aspects of accounting do you focus on most?
I love problem-solving. So I enjoy Internal Auditing, External Auditing, Tax and Advisory Services that really add additional value for the client I'm rendering the service to.
Describe your average client:
Probably extremely creative, all over the place and either incredibly successful (financially speaking) or incredibly unsuccessful (financially speaking), but successful in life, comfortable with who they are, what they want to do, and they might just need a little help/ a little push in the right direction. Those are usually the type of clients that naturally get along with me. They have a need and I think they can sense that they can trust me, and that I can help to solve their problems/ fulfill that need.
How far away from your premises is your furthest client?
20 minutes drive without traffic (double with traffic).
From your accounting experience, if you could cite one of the biggest reasons SME's in SA fail, what would it be?
SME's in SA fail, because they don't have the necessary controls in place in their business. That is a fact. It is well researched and I've seen it and experienced it.
Being an SME owner is tough - always - you have 1 million things to do, 6 million things to remember and you might think you've got it all under control, but...just forget to put one tax compliance control in place or one anti-theft control, one labour law control, one cyber security control, one stock control, one admin control. And this "little" mistake (the one thing you forgot out of the 6 million that you had to begin with) can end your business. And I mean literally END your business. No matter how good you are. That is why I don't work alone and why I do believe that my clients need me. Its fine to save costs on expenses, but you need to know which ones to save on. And when it comes to having a proper up-to-date, familiar-with-the-technical-stuff, financial "partner" by your side - in my opinion that is not one of the costs you should be saving on.
What accounting software do you like best?
Xero for staying in touch with my clients, DEAR for stock management & good old Pastel for quickly getting client records up to date.
What other software, online services or apps do you use?
Receiptbank - for capturing all my paper slips and saving it in a format that I can submit to SARS (the best thing since sliced bread - I promise you).
Simplepay - for payroll. It's affordable and it has this fantastic self-service option for employees. Employees can view their payslip online & apply for leave online, etc. Love it.
Do you think the coming wave of automation in the next few years will steal some accounting jobs and why/why not?
I don't think so. I think bookkeepers might lose some jobs, but I think Chartered Accountants will side with me and be ecstatic about the changes. Who doesn't want better customer service & less human error for their clients? Also, I think its going to be up to the individual chartered accountants. Are they excited about & willing to be part of the change? Or are they unwilling to change?
I think if you are unwilling to change, you're dead, but if you embrace change you'll be fine. I do think a lot of us are going to have to upskill. And SAICA & IRBA are going to have to make their curriculum more relevant - focusing more on skills & technology than ever before, but without letting the high technical standard of our qualifications slip.
I am, for example, going to learn to code, as soon as my practice takes off, one way or another. If #wethinkcode can just have a branch in Cape Town as well - I will be there. Someone has to collaborate with the programmers in order to ensure the correct accounting & tax rules are automated into the new accounting systems, right?
What is your opinion on Bitcoin?
I wish I had more of it. I think it is just the first of potentially many virtual currencies. Accounting for it is tricky, because the fair value is so volatile, but imagine the possibilities... In future our currencies might be completely global & virtual. To me this means less hassle when travelling and more equal cross-continent opportunities for all.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time. What is that? They didn't teach me this concept in accounting school...lol.
I read (paper back old school books), write - blogs mainly (like https://supportlocaltableview.wordpress.com & https://amandahope101.wordpress.com), paint and chill at Mike's Art https://www.facebook.com/mikeshaffart/, go ballroom dancing and spend time watching movies/ brainstorming with my husband or I go for a walk on the beach/ night in with friends.
What is the most interesting thing on your bucket list?
I want to start an NPO that supports talented entrepreneurs & gifted individuals, with all inclusive support (e.g. training, housing, etc.) to pursue their dreams no matter who they are or where they come from.
I've seen too many people, deserving, hardworking, amazing people "fail" at life, because no one would ever give them a break. That's not right. I will be the person to give them their break. That is my life dream.