Top Jobs: Accounting
By Sam Banda Jnr
Accounting is one of the most popular top jobs in Malawi. There are a number of reasons why many strive to enter this job sector.
The career is very marketable in Malawi and there are many jobs in both the civil service and the private sector. Although the accounting field is broad, with various different positions and functions, it is best to qualify as a chartered accountant in order to earn more in both government and the private sector in Malawi.
A chartered accountant who works as a Group Financial Accountant for a Malawian company, Leonard Chisale, says accounting is a broad field, but points out that those with experience and training are more likely to be in line for the top accounting jobs, with a better salary in both the civil service and the private sector.
"Those chartered accountants coming from college do not start with an attractive salary, but those who are experienced have good salaries," says Chisale.
He also says that the career has different positions, depending on the institutions you are working for.
“In some institutions you have a position such as Chief Accountant, whereas others have Group Chief Accountant and Finance Directors,” he says.
According to him, chartered accountants who are not experienced would start with a basic salary of not less than 150,000 Malawi Kwacha; but he also pointed out that in some institutions they may start them on 200,000 Malawi Kwacha.
But for experienced chartered accountants who hold top positions such as Group Finance Accountant, Finance Director or Group Chief Accountant, they receive a basic salary of 500,000 Malawi Kwacha with others even hitting 700,000 Malawi Kwacha.
Chisale said that in government institutions some accountants are paid less then their private sector counterparts, but get several allowances which they receive on top of scholarships to further their studies.
For one to climb in this career you have to move through various departments and levels, from Accounts Assistant to Assistant Accountant, and so on. Chartered accountant Andrew Mfune says it is a long process for one to fully qualify as a chartered accountant, as you have to undergo several stages.
In Malawi there are two ways to pursuing accounting; one is through the local board known as the Public Accountancy Examination Council (PAEC), and the other is known as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) which is based in the UK.
For one to pursue the career he or she has to have a Malawi School Certificate of Education
(MSCE) with mathematics as a strong credit. Then one can pursue a certificate and then a diploma for the PAEC board. For ACCA one goes straight into a Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) diploma.
After completing the diploma in either of the two boards, the next step is the Foundation stage which has subjects like Corporate Law and Financial Accounting.
Mfune says the journey into the career starts with the Foundation stage; after that you go for professional status where you cover around 14 subjects to become a chartered accountant.
“It all depends - for instance a graduate is exempted from the Foundation stage and three subjects, whereas those with a diploma in CAT or PAEC are exempted from the Foundation stage as well as two subjects,” says Mfune, whose position is Assistant Accountant.
Sophie Gondwe, a young lady who is also pursuing the same field and is on the verge of being a chartered accountant, says the professional stage has parts one to three.
“Part one has subjects which we call fundaments and they come as F1, F2, F3 etc. The other parts have essential modules which feature subjects which are named P1, P2, P3 etc. You need to pass all these subjects and after finishing you will be called a chartered accountant,” says Gondwe.
She says pursuing the PAEC was cheaper because you pay using Malawi Kwacha compared to the ACCA where you pay in pounds (and end up paying more money by the time you finish the course).
Mfune says being chartered accountant is a great achievement - but you can go even further to pursue a Masters degree!
Taking one institution - Malawi College of Accountancy – as an example, it would appear that many students, both young men and women, are pursuing the career despite it being billed difficult as it involves mathematics.
But the career has more men than women as fully qualified accountants.
According a lecturer in one of the accounting schools, the ratio of men to women in the field is approximately 70 percent for men to 30 percent for women.
A government official also working as a Chief Accountant confirmed that this was one of the top jobs in the country. He said accounting and finance departments employ many people.
He further said that the percentage of women holding top positions as accountants was small compared to that of men. This could possibly be attributed to that fact that the career involves mathematics and working with figures, which many young women are not encouraged to study.
But Gondwe says women are slowly coming up to take the jobs, saying women are trustworthy with money issues and that more and more institutions were starting to deploy women in top accounting positions.
University of Malawi – Polytechnic
Malawi College of Accountancy
Polytechnic – Continuing Education
Various private colleges in Malawi’s three cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre.