What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

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Every successful business needs a fit-for-purpose finance team to ensure that it succeeds in times of adversity, and that its financial reporting is reliable according to acceptable accounting practices. To achieve this, many companies are beginning to professionalise their finance and accounting teams tasked with supervising their day-to-day finances, but where does a company start in this regard?

The first place to turn to in helping your company to professionalise your finance team is the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). As the voice of Chartered Accountants [CAs(SA)] in the country, SAICA strives to maintain and strengthen the overall status of the accountancy profession and ensure that its members continue to be highly regarded by society at large.

As the country’s leading accountancy body and one of the prominent institutes globally, SAICA membership is not only for CAs(SA). The institute offers three reputable professional accounting and business designations that range from a foundational level to a strategic level of accounting and business competence level. These designations are the Accounting Technician [AT(SA)], Associate General Accountant [AGA(SA)] and Chartered Accountant [CA(SA)] — all of which are underpinned by SAICA’s Code of Professional Conduct and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) requirements, which ensure that SAICA members and associates demonstrate and adhere to the highest level of professionalism, discipline and performance.

Many organisations are not aware that their general accounting staff could benefit from a recognised and respected qualification, and professional designation, such as AT(SA) or AGA(SA).

What is an AT(SA)?

This is a recognised and respected competency-based accounting qualification offered by SAICA. It is job-related, application-driven and meets the need for sound accounting and financial skills in the workplace. With ATs(SA), employers get the assurance and benefit of high quality, practical accounting skills — adding real value to finance teams.


In essence, AT(SA) is a mark of professional competence. Once trained, bearers of the designation show a solid understanding and practical application of accounting and finance skills. These professionals play a key support role in finance and business, competently working across all sectors of the economy to improve organisational productivity and efficiency. The qualification enables accounting technicians to occupy diverse roles such as Accounts Administrator, Payroll Administrator, Debtors/Creditors Clerk, Payroll Assistant and Financial Accountant.

This means that ATs(SA) are equipped to improve business processes and manage accounting information systems, prepare financial information and streamline accounting processes. In addition, a qualified AT(SA) knows how to prepare and produce reliable financial information that CAs(SA), AGAs(SA) and other accounting professionals can trust. Most importantly, they increase the accuracy of financial recording and reporting in finance teams. The practical approach of ATs(SA) ensures compliance with regulations and legislation such as tax and VAT.

The training of an AT(SA) combines accounting theory with real-world practical experience, enabling members to apply newly acquired skills in their own work environment. ATs(SA) integrate work with learning, connecting theory and best practice. This progressive approach takes people from foundational level through to advanced levels of accounting knowledge, skills and competencies. The outcome is suitably competent employees who make informed decisions and are able to deliver precise work, making a meaningful contribution to financial operations.

What is an AGA(SA)?

AGAs(SA) play key managerial roles within diverse sectors of the economy. Professionals who hold this qualification have successfully completed a SAICA accredited degree and a SAICA training contract or assessment, to ensure they offer a strong set of technical accounting and financial skills required to navigate today’s complex and evolving business environment. They are technically-minded accountants, who have the ability to bridge operational and strategic management functions. Their expert ability to drive accountancy and financial excellence in organisations enables them to deliver results and accelerate organisational financial performance.

Empowering your finance staff with the AGA(SA) designation enables them to have stronger technicaland analytical rigour to drive accounting, financial and operational excellence in organisations. They can perform various roles, including the compilation of financial statements for companies, acting as a commissioner of oaths, registering as a tax practitioner and performing independent reviews. AGAs(SA) add tangible value to organisations. Essentially, they help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting organisations perform better.

Through their training journey, AGAs(SA) are equipped to integrate diverse areas of knowledge and skills to develop future-focused financial solutions. They are armed with more skills to combine operational activities with big-picture perspective to drive action and implementation. This ensures that they are able to draw on their technical expertise and knowledge to solve multidisciplinary business problems.

AGAs(SA) maintain their relevancy through continuous professional development. This ensures that their skills are up to date and responsive to the changing needs of business. As part of their ongoing training in challenging situations, they are able to identify and define issues and provide appropriate operational solutions to enhance business performance. They can connect across disciplines, and most importantly, are able to evaluate and decide between alternatives, proposing practical solutions.

What is a CA(SA)?

Ultimately, the CA(SA) designation is still the sought-after premier business designation. CAs(SA) have a greater ability to analyse and interpret today’s business problems and develop dynamic solutions fit for the future. These business leadersare highly respected professionals who have deep financial expertise and broad business insight. They lead at the highest level of business as CEOs, Financial Directors, Board Directors, business owners and strategic senior management. CAs(SA) use their deep understanding of complex financial, technical and operational concepts to shape the strategic direction of organisations, often creating long-term value for organisations, communities and economies. They lead dynamic teams of financial professionals who are armed with the AGA(SA) and AT(SA) designations.

Professionalising a company’s finance team with suitable accounting, finance and business skills is not only vital for a business to understand, project and plan for a better future, but also for the South African economy to thrive.

To get your finance and accounting team assessed on how they can benefit from an AGA(SA) or AT(SA) qualification, contact SAICA on 011-621-6600 or email [email protected]

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