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June 2, 2015

First black female to chair IRBA’s first “auditor-less” board

By Vincent Huck

Pailles, Mauritius/London. The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) has appointed René Kenosi as chairman of its new board. She is the first black female to hold this position, and it is also the first time that the South African audit regulator has no practising registered auditors on its board.

Kenosi, a chartered accountant, is currently a director of Bridging Concepts Financial Services, she has served on a number of audit and risk committees across different sectors such as banking, breweries, motor vehicle and professional services consulting industries.

She will head a board made of members form various backgrounds including law, academia, audit, business and accountancy. However for the first time in South Africa the audit regulator has no practising registered auditors on its board.

Met at the African Congress of Accountants (ACOA15), IRBA chief executive officer Bernard Agulhas spoke to The Accountant ahead of the new board been formally announced.

"I must say, we have pushed, I personally have pushed for no auditors on our board because I’ve seen what a difference one auditor on the board can make," he said adding that it only takes one auditor on the board for him to be immediately lobbied by the Big Four firms.

"The global networks are organized, believe it or not, not only in countries but internationally," Agulhas continued. "So you only need one auditor on your board to be lobbied by the global networks, and everything that we discuss gets out to the rest of the profession."He said many had questioned this move arguing that auditors had the knowledge to understand the profession best.

However Agulhas said he disagrees with this view as for him the role of the board is to deal with operational and strategic matters, while the secretariat handles the technical issues.

However he said the board needed audit experience, and in his view having retired auditors on the board did not breach the independence of the regulator. According to him it was necessary to keep out of the board only auditors working in public practices.

"Because they can go back to the firm and say this is how IRBA is going to change the inspections process, be ready for it," he said.

IRBA’s new board has been appointed by the Minister of Finance for a two year period, and its new members are: Advocate Lisa Keech, Abel Dlamini, Thiru Pillay, Zola Luxolo Fihlani, Amanda Lethukuthula Mazibuko and Phumzo Noxaka.

Reappointed members are: René Kenosi (chair), Alex van der Watt.

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