South African financial brain drain 

South Africa’s National Payments System (NPS) faces a critical skills shortage worsened by the emigration of skilled personnel. 

This was revealed by Payment Association of South Africa (PASA) CEO Ghita Erling in the organisation’s annual report. 

The South African Reserve Bank mandates PASA to organise, manage, and regulate the participation of its members in the NPS. 

Erling said the industry faces significant headwinds, including a skills shortage exacerbated by increased emigration of skilled professionals. 

A spokesperson for PASA said the problem was that the demand for knowledge, experience, and an in-depth understanding of the payments industry far outweighed the supply.

PASA also highlighted an ageing workforce and new payment technologies for losing experienced professionals. 

Worryingly, new professionals are not being produced as there is a lack of training programmes to satisfy the growing demand for payment professionals. 

The organisation also said the entry of new players into the payments space, including fintechs, has stretched the skills base. 

Banks have historically dominated South Africa’s financial services sector. However, growth in the fintech market has seen more non-banks facilitating payment services.

Irba CEO Imre Nagy

PASA’s warning comes on the back of Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) CEO Imre Nagy’s warning of an auditors shortage in South Africa. 

The country’s auditing profession faces a skills shortage due to low mathematics literacy, emigration, and a negative perception of the industry.

The industry has lost its lustre because of high entry requirements to study accounting, high tuition fees, low pay, high work stress, and negative publicity about the auditing profession.

The skills shortage is exacerbated by low maths literacy in South Africa, which significantly reduces the number of students able to study accounting. 

In addition, several push-and-pull factors, such as political and socioeconomic instability, drive the emigration of highly skilled professionals.

Irba recently accredited the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants as an additional professional accounting body to address the skills shortage. 

This will provide another route to the audit specialisation programme for aspiring auditors.

Irba is also undertaking a situational analysis to restore confidence in the role of auditors and the regulator. 

This includes closer collaboration with auditors without compromising the regulator’s independence.

PASA said it is also engaging with multiple industry players and initiated a needs analysis study to understand what is needed to build capacity in the payments system. 


Top JSE indices