Leadership conversation with 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awardee, Mr Bernard

26 October 2021 -26 October 2021 @ 17:30 - 18:30


October 26, 2021
05:30 PM - 06:30 PM
Virtual Event
Event Type:


Alumni Relations
046 603 7024

You are invited to the second of our series of Leadership Conversations with our 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, in honour and acknowledgement of their embodiment of the University's motto “Where leaders learn”
Event details
When: Tuesday, 26 October 2021
Time: 17h30-18h30
Topic: The Future of Audit           
Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Dh18dMmoT7-q8K_P_fgYgA
Order of proceedings
Facilitator: Ms. Nontobeko Sibisi
Reading of the citation: Ms. Zahra Cassim
Congratulatory Message: Dr Sizwe Mabizela
Conversation between Prof Sewry and Mr Agulhas on the following key points:

  • Where we came from
  • A question of trust
  • Remaining relevant in a dynamic environment
  • Protectors of the public interest

About Bernard Agulhas, CA (SA)
A Chartered Accountant (SA) and Registered Public Sector Financial Officer with over thirty years' tenure in the auditing and accounting profession, and until recently eleven years as CEO of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), the audit regulator, Agulhas commenced his career as a CA(SA) when he enrolled at Rhodes University in 1981 to study a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting.
Agulhas completed his schooling in Gelvandale, Gqeberha, where he grew up, and as he could not envisage a career in art, one of his other passions, he decided to pursue his love of accounting.
Following his time at Rhodes University, he joined one of the 'Big Four' audit and accounting firms where he completed his articles of clerkship back in Gqeberha and later transferred to the former Transkei and eventually to Gauteng to expand his experience and outlook.   
In addition to leading and maintaining the effective operation of the organization, during which period South Africa was ranked in the number one position globally for its auditing and reporting standards by the World Economic Forum for seven consecutive years, Agulhas acted as Principal Spokesperson for the IRBA and developed a public persona through numerous interviews on radio, television and in the printed media.
Prior to becoming Chief Executive Officer, Agulhas was the Technical Director at the IRBA, largely responsible for audit and ethics standard setting for the auditing profession, adoption and implementation of the International Standards on Auditing (ISA) in South Africa and participation in the international standard setting activities of the International Federation of Accountants' (IFAC) International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), as technical advisor to the South African member, as well as providing technical support on the redrafting of three ISAs for the IAASB.
During 2001 to 2003 as Project Director - Technical at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), the South African professional and IFAC member body, Agulhas was responsible for the public sector of the local profession. 
Prior to joining SAICA, he headed up the technical department at the Office of the Auditor General from 1998 to 2001. During this time, he was responsible for harmonising and implementing the private sector auditing standards in the public sector and participated in the development of the Public Finance Management Act, the legislation which covers the national and provincial spheres of government.
From 1983 to 1995 Agulhas lectured and tutored part-time for various educational institutions including Rhodes University, WITS University and the University of Transkei and continues to mentor aspirant professionals, in and outside of the accountancy profession.
Until 2020, he was a board member of the IFAC International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) and chairman of the Professional Skepticism Behavioral Competency Task Force and was also a founding member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR), which consists of over 50 jurisdictions world-wide, and was appointed to its first Board and as the first chairman of the IFIAR Audit Committee. He also chaired the IFIAR Standards Coordination Working Group (SCWG) for four years.
Agulhas always believed that his international experience and opportunities should also benefit his home continent and became a founding member and Deputy Chairman of the African Forum of Independent Audit and Accounting Regulators (AFIAAR), the African counterpart of IFIAR.
He also believed that it is better to influence rather than simply adopt international standards and grabbed opportunities to serve as a member on the IAASB Audit Quality Framework Task Force and Professional Skepticism Task Force based on his unwavering commitment to strengthen audit quality and auditor behaviors. 
Agulhas is a member of the King Committee on Corporate Governance, the body responsible for developing best practice in governance in the private and public sectors in South Africa and chaired its subcommittee on Climate Change which was tasked to develop guidance to Directors on climate-related matters.
Most recent achievements as the audit regulator were the introduction of Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation to strengthen auditor independence in South Africa, and tabling proposals to the Minister of Finance for a Comprehensive Regulator Model which will spread accountability of all role-players in the financial reporting ecosystem. During April 2021, the President signed into legislation the amendments to the audit legislation, which included proposals to strengthen the independence and oversight of the audit regulator as well as introduce stricter sanctions for auditors.
Since leaving the IRBA at the end of June 2020 at the end of his last CEO contract, Agulhas assisted the Commission of Enquiry with respect to the role of accountants and auditors in alleged state capture with the objective of making recommendations to the President of South Africa.
He currently chairs the Examination Board of the South African Institute of Government Auditors, the body responsible for qualifying auditors and accountants to deliver services in the public sector and is a board member and chair of the audit committee of the Field Band Foundation, a Non - Profit Organisation which empowers the youth through music to become ready for their future careers.  

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