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Local management accountant at the top of the global game

Devin Kruger was recently awarded joint first place in the International Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) examinations. This after writing a number of professional exams, over the past 16 months, to qualify as a professional Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
From Left to right: Gerhard Kruger, Devin Kruger and Mariaan Kruger
Kruger earned his B Com (Management Accounting) degree at Stellenbosch University and went on to complete his Hons B Com (Management Accounting) degree in 2017, before starting his articles at Moore Stephens Management Services in Stellenbosch. It has been a long, hard road for him but he will complete his Management Accounting articles next year, at Moore Stephens.

All work and no play

Kruger says he is still overwhelmed by the result. "Studying and working at the same time is not for the faint-hearted. I believe that the only way I was able to cope was by making work and study a daily routine. It takes a while to get used to but once I was in the rhythm of it came easier. I am lucky enough to be at Moore Stephens who has a lenient study leave policy which helped a lot with all of these exams."

Athough Kruger believes the qualification and his position in the exams will open doors for him, he says he has always believed that a qualification alone is not enough. "I am very goal orientated," he says. "You cannot just expect opportunities to come your way."

An early interest in finance

The world of finance is clearly in the family’s DNA. His father, Gerhard Kruger is an entrepreneur who heads up of K&M Management and Investment services in George.

Kruger says, "At school I was always fond of accounting as a subject. From a young age I was exposed to a business environment by my dad. I would say that these were the main factors that shaped my vision for a career in finance. Once I started studying, I realised that my strengths lay not with auditing or pure accounting but rather more in line with CIMA’s Management Accounting. I made this my focus at Stellenbosch University where the aim is to qualify with CIMA."

Why management accounting and not a chartered accountant (CA)?

"To me the difference between being a management accountant and a CA is summed up pretty simply: As a CA you need to do auditing articles. This involves looking back at what happened in the business in the past and determining if everything that took place was in fact correct and in-line with the law and International Financial Reporting Standards and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). A management accountant is forward-looking and is focused more on how to run a business successfully day-to-day be it from expansions, to valuations of acquiring companies to risk assessment.

"This forward-looking perspective is what drew me to CIMA. I far prefer that dynamic side of the business. I do still want to obtain my chartered financial analyst qualification, but at a later stage." For now, he is concentrating on completing his articles. His advice to other up-and-coming young professionals is, "Trust the system and work hard. There is no shortcut to achieving success."

Embracing the digital future

There is a great deal of talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Automation and Block Chain in the financial world but as Devin says it is one he could talk about for hours. He says, "It’s quite controversial but, in short, I see the digitisation of accounting and the financial world with AI, automation and block chain as a tool which can help deliver better results at a faster rate.

"I don’t believe that specific AI will replace the role of humans in the financial sector. However, I do believe that over time AI might replace the more mundane jobs. Lastly, over the past two centuries, the financial sector has evolved and the way of doing things has changed due to systems advances and computers. The underlying assumption remained the same during this period which is that computers and systems are tools which assist us in doing our jobs more efficiently and effectively. It is for this reason I believe that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be an asset to people in the financial sector that I look forward to embracing."

Maintaining a balanced life

"My achievements have not been without compromise. There were countless braais and social events which I could not attend. Numerous sporting (cycling and running races) events that I had to miss for my studies and working life. Looking back at it now, I believe there are four pillars in the life of someone attempting their articles and professional examinations: Social, Work, Study and Exercise. It is almost inevitable you have to sacrifice one. I chose the social pillar which was difficult but in retrospect worth it because it was only temporary."

What does the future hold?

"I believe in being micro-ambitious. By this I don’t mean I don’t have long term goals but rather chose to focus on the tasks at hand. I feel that if I look to far ahead and focus on my long-term goals, I could miss the opportunities in my peripheries. With that said, I want to be successful in everything I do and follow in the footsteps of my dad. One day I would also like to attempt the CFA examinations as I have a great interest in the financial markets and asset management."

Support from CIMA

"The examination process was very efficient with CIMA. When I applied for my exemptions after completion of my studies, CIMA accommodated all of the South African students by placing a cap on the fee charged due to our weak currency. This was appreciated greatly."

Advice to potential management accountants

"It’s not an easy path. It will require hard work, dedication and countless sacrifices. With that said, once you have your CIMA qualification you’re set, you will still have to work hard but you have knowledge about finance that is almost unmatched. Once you have the qualification, the world’s your oyster – because the CIMA qualification is recognised globally."

Despite all the accolades, Kruger remains humble. "I have always been of the opinion that a qualification is solely a key, it is what you do with it that allows you to unlock success."

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