Accounting graduates have only a few options to choose from after leaving university to complete their qualification. Those choices have binary pros and cons and it is this dilemma Letsema intends on fixing in the way Letsema knows best.
The initiative began in the office of Letsema’s CEO, Derek Thomas. Katlego Tlale, Letsema’s Head of Business Enablement, was assigned to drive the process. Assisted by Business Analyst, Muhammed Mitha, external contractor Slade Hudson and many within the Letsema family, Letsema is now a South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) registered training office. Katlego says Letsema becoming SAICA-accredited would not have been possible without everyone in Letsema playing their part. He is the Group’s first registered SAICA assessor, with Muhammed the second.
However, SAICA certification is only the end of the beginning.
“Letsema aims to recruit three of the very best candidates from institutions with a reputation for excellence. The positions will only be filled if the right candidates are available,” Katlego explains.
Letsema will be competing against other consultancies, accounting firms and businesses for intake and these establishments have had more time to introduce themselves to potential candidates. However, a detailed study of Letsema’s learnership programme reveals a unique proposition unlike any other in the industry.
“Accounting graduates can choose from two paths, broadly speaking, to do their three-year learnership. These are audit; the route I took and a space dominated by the large firms, and business management,” Katlego says. “Business management can then be sub-divided into two sub-paths.: Consulting and corporate. Each have their own advantages and weaknesses.”
The consulting path allows graduates to experience different environments at a strategic level and problem-solving challenges. Graduates build up their technical competency but may be isolated from the day-to-day of the business environment and might not learn the fundamentals of running a business.
The corporate path, in contrast, is a ripe learning ground for how a business functions. Shoprite, for example, recruit a number of graduates a year who move through the company’s different divisions over the three-year period.
But, unlike consulting, these graduates will likely only work in one sector, not be deployed at a strategic level in the organisation, nor be able to build-up their problem-solving toolkit.
It is in this landscape that Letsema offers the best of both worlds, and by doing so, negating their deficiencies.
“We can offer everything consultancies and corporates can offer. Consulting is an apex discipline, performance driven and always arrives in a challenging environment. It provides you with the tools to tackle any problem in a structured way. That is what Letsema Consultancy & Advisory offers,” Katlego says. “This will be complemented by the interactions our graduates have with the different businesses that make up Letsema Investments, which will form part of the Letsema SAICA programme. Graduates will be learning how to run a business, which all operate in different sectors of the economy and have the potential to scale dramatically.”
Coupled with corporate finance work generated by Letsema’s active M&A market position, graduates will receive a holistic education unlike any other in South Africa.
Letsema wants its SAICA graduates to be the very best, and critically as Katlego notes, this is only possible if the skills Letsema’s graduates learn are underpinned by the right values.
“South Africa’s accounting industry is the middle of a values crisis. There has never been a more important time for accounting graduates to understand that without the right values, their skills will always be incomplete,” he says. “Letsema is built on the principle that business can be a catalyst for social change. The accounting industry plays a critical role in holding business and government to a higher standard.”
Katlego believes Letsema can play its part in making sure the industry’s future leaders are instilled with the right values from the very beginning. That journey will begin in 2019.