SMEs to gain free accountancy tips

Tuesday November 5 2019

Mr Michael Isaac Kuteesa, founder La Craft

Mr Michael Isaac Kuteesa, founder La Craft Uganda shows a lamp shade made from waste materials. Proper financial management helps SMEs to manage costs and guarantee a good return on investment. Photo by Eronie Kamukama 

By Martin Luther Oketch

What kind of advice will the accounting/audit firms offer to the SMEs and the general public during those two days?
Accounting firms will offer advice on: how to prepare and maintain proper records and books of accounts, how to interpret financial statements and annual reports, stock management, how to manage tax obligations, business formalisation, client relations, managing risks, audit and debt management among other business advisory services.
Participants will walk into the stall of an accounting firm of their preference and make enquiries.

Why is accounting very important to SMEs and the public sector?
Organisations require resources for their operations. Accounting directly deals with the management of an organisation’s resources. Accountants advise management on how resources should be spent.

They control costs and expenditure to ensure profits for the business. They also manage stock, anticipate and manage risks, manage tax obligations and prepare financial records which guide management and investors’ decisions.

What is required from someone to attend the exhibition?
The exhibition is open to members of the business community and the general public. Entrance is free for all participants.

One of the major challenges the SMEs in Uganda are faced with is lack of proper books of accounts and records. How is ICPAU helping them to overcome such challenges?

Many SMEs do not keep proper books of accountants because they lack the skill required to prepare them. The Accountancy Services Week was introduced for this purpose. Among the services that accounting firms will offer is advice on how to prepare books of accounts, commensurate for the size of the organisation.

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SMEs will also be linked to licensed accounting firms who can offer book keeping and audit services for the SMEs, at affordable rates. Depending on the size of the business, one might not need to hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on a full time basis. The CPA can prepare the accounts or review them periodically.

We also encourage SMEs to use Accounting Technicians. These are accounts assistants who are yet to qualify as CPAs. They charge lower fees yet they offer a good service, especially for micro enterprises. As the business grows and profits increase, then the micro enterprise can progress to the CPAs.

This initiative started in 2017, what impact has it had?
Participants from previous Accountancy Services Weeks have registered improvements in their financial management.

In 2018, over 380 business leaders participated. Through regular interactions with the Institute, some have testified about the benefits of financial discipline and prudent financial management. These include: increased access to finance and credit, and improved approach to financial management which is positively impacting profits.

Some SMEs submitted their annual reports for the 2019 Financial Reporting Awards where we realised a 13 per cent increase in reports submitted.

Hiring a professional audit (accountancy) firm to carryout audit remains expensive to the SMEs. Why is this so?
There is an inaccurate perception that professional accountancy services are expensive, which is not the case. The amount of money charged by accounting firms is commensurate to the quality of service that they provide and there are many firms for various categories of SMEs.
We implore SMEs to look beyond the cost of service and focus on the quality of work and the impact on business. For instance, before an SME can access credit for business expansion, they must provide proper financial records. Proper financial management also helps the SME manage costs and guarantee a good return on investment.

How many professional accountants are there in Uganda?
The register of accountants has 3,050 CPAs. There are more than 1,000 associates (those who have completed the CPA course but have not yet registered for full membership).

Why has the number of professional accountants remained low in Uganda?
ICPAU ascribes to the global framework for professional accountants which is developed by the International Federation of Accountants.

The framework requires one to complete the CPA course or equivalent and attain a minimum of three years’ relevant practical experience, as a prerequisite to become a Certified Public Accountant.
Some people find the process lengthy, but this is necessary for the nature of work that accountants do. Bearing responsibility for organisations’ resources requires integrity, competence, professionalism and ethics, which the CPA training and practical experience training provide. The ICPAU examinations scheme started in 1997 (22 years ago) and over 3,500 members have qualified.

How many audit firms do we have?
As per the latest list published on September 30, we have 246 licensed accounting firms.

Accountants Day
The International Accountants Day is celebrated annually on November 10, to commemorate the anniversary of the first book: Double Entry. Accountants help businesses to understand their financial weaknesses and strengths. This helps them to map out sustainable journeys of business growth.

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