How to become a CFO(SA) 

So you Googled how much CFOs earn, and now you want to become one and earn the CFO(SA) designation recognized by SAIBA?

Here’s how to make that possible.  

 

What is a CFO(SA) designation?  

CFO(SA) or Certified Financial Officer South Africa is a professional designation recognized by SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority). 

The designation, offered by SAIBA, is intended for those in CFO or equivalent positions.  

 

Do I have to be a chartered accountant to become a CFO(SA) 

No. Many CFOs of large listed companies, especially internationally, do not come from an accounting background.

Although becoming a CA and then a few years later becoming a CFO is a well-trodden path.  

For the CFO(SA) designation, you don’t need to come from an accounting background. We will consider those from other academic backgrounds such as law, engineering, or other fields.  

 However, applicants need to have completed executive education at an MBA or chartered level such as ACCA, CIMA or CA.  

 

How many years of experience do I need to become a CFO(SA) 

You need to show experience via a logbook. This includes two years of experience at an operational level of a finance department, four years at a managerial level and four years at a strategic level at a finance department.  

 

What if I start my own company and call myself a CFO(SA), does that count?  

Unfortunately not. CFO(SA)s may not act in private practice. Also, the business you work for has to turnover above R30 million. You also need to hold a suitable position in the company, such as CFO, senior or group financial manager or equivalent.  

  

Do I need to prove I have specific skills to qualify as a CFO(SA)? 

Yes, SAIBA refers to these as competencies, and there are 34 of them that fall under four different roles, including steward, operator, catalyst and strategist. These competencies are based on research, including an academic paper examining how CA’s transition to CFOs and the skills they need to do so. 

SAIBA requires documentary proof that applicants have the required skills. Applicants also have to undergo an interview with a CFO who has been trained to do the assessment.  

 

What’s the turnaround time from when I apply to when I qualify?  

The best case scenario is a few weeks, according to SAIBA’s CFO Portfolio Coordinator Irina Yatsenko. “If you have all 34 competencies and don’t have any gaps, it will take about a week to get an appointment with an assessor. That assessment can take about two to three hours, and then feedback is provided. If there are gaps in the competencies, it can take three to six months.”  

 

 What if I don’t meet the criteria?  

 If you apply for the qualification and there are gaps, you will be reverted to theSAIBA Academy,” says Yatsenko. “That will prolong the process because you’ll first need to get the gap sorted.”   

 

 

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