Career in Chartered Accountancy in India
CA – MEANING, HISTORY AND AREAS OF WORK
In an increasingly complex and dynamic economy, the value of highly skilled Chartered Accountants has never been more. Around the globe these, talented and ethical professionals are transforming the way business, organizations, individuals and communities are meeting their strategic and financial goals. In 1854, in Britain, Chartered Accountants claim to have found the first ever professional body from an accounting group. Chartered Accountant (CA) is a designation which is provided to the accounting professionals all across the world, except for the United States. In United States the position of Chartered Accountant is equal to that of the designation of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A Chartered Accountant, hold influential positions in the organizations and companies in the capacity of filing business tax returns, auditing business practices and financial statement and sometime offering services involving financial advices to the clients. It also depends upon the area of focus, for the firm or the organization. Working in all sectors of the economy, from public to private sectors, they provide their financial and strategic expertise for the management of business. There are certain key areas in which Charted Accountants operate and function including:
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- Public Practice
A large part of Chartered Accountant professionals work for or within an accounting firm, to provide a range of financial services to the clients. Other than financial services, they also provide tax-accountancy services, audits, and management consultancy and business advices. The size of the organization can vary from firm to firm.
Roles such as Finance Director and Fund Manager are filled by the Charted Accountants. Accountants within an organization/company provide their expertise in the field of finance and accounts to help business development and management.
- Corporate finance
A more streamlined department within a business is the field of corporate finance. The work involves negotiating with lawyers, finance providers and researchers. It might also include handling company mergers, capital reconstruction and acquisitions.
- Forensic accounting
This field involves Chartered Accountants to investigate cases of insurance, commercial fraud, civil cases and sometimes cases of personal injury. Larger firms usually have a highly specialized department to handle such areas of work, in which job positions are filled by Chartered Accountants.
THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Being one of the most well sought after jobs in the country and the world, becoming a Charted Accountant, has its own set of challenges. Inclusion of the fact that the syllabus that is required to be studied is vast, clearing all the required levels of CA requires a perfect balance of intelligence and hard work. Though some deem CA to be a much more difficult course than CAT, MBBA and UPSC, one can’t say that it is impossible. Some of the difficulties and their solutions that may help one in deciding if CA is what they wish to do, are:
- Immense content
Chartered Accountants have to study and excel in vast number of subjects and areas. From basic knowledge of elementary subjects like Mathematics, Economics and Law, to specialized subjects of Cost Accounting and Law, are required.
Solution – All the information is available today at the click of a button, any aspirant can easily find out more on the subject they need to study. Online course are also available, which can speed up the process of learning.
- Coaching classes and cost
Unlike, traditional courses, CA is not taught as a full time course by colleges and universities. The knowledge is to be acquired by the student himself/herself. Even, though it is cheaper in comparison to other streamline course, if one includes the cost of coaching and classes, the cost shoots up.
Solution – Joining classes and coaching can enhance your chances of clearing, but one needs to be motivated and self-driven to becoming a Chartered Accountant. Common tips like studying together, attending seminars, utilizing library resources, under the guidance of professors, can help one a lot more.
- Articleship and stipend
Articleship is a rigorous on-the-job training, when a new CA works with an experienced CA for a matter of three years. These three years is when the aspirant, practices and gains the practical knowledge of the profession. With the arduous amount of work, the stipend provided is bare minimum. ICAI quoted the minimum stipend is up to Rs. 3000, which is Rs. 120 per day.
Solution – The quality of the training is heavily subjective and depend on the CA, one is working with. This is the opportunity to learn the most for future profession as a Chartered Accountant. The decision to work under a CA should be well thought one, taking the stipend into consideration.
- Low emphasis on industry training
Industry training, which is essential to further get an insight into the working of the profession are is not given much emphasis.
Solution – This should be the focus of all the aspiring Chartered Accountants out there, expect aspirants who specifically want to build their careers in the field of Tax and Audit.
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The entire course is for the minimum duration of 5 years, thus five years of hard work and dedication is what pays off in the end. However, only one out of 500 who sit for the entire process, actually end up becoming Chartered Accountants. The entire system is divided into the four levels, ranging from the basic first level to the final exam, which decides whether you will become a Chartered Accountant or not. The levels of the exam are as such:
- 1st level
- An objective based test – Common Proficiency Test (CPT) is to be cleared.
- This test is ideally taken along with 12th standard boards. Leading for kids to manage their scores in their boards as well as CPT.
- The passing percentage required for CPT is around 25% approximately.
- Out of 500 who appear for the exam, only 125 manage to clear the level and move on to the next level.
- 2nd level
- Integrated Professional Competence Exam (IPCE) is to clear which consist of 7 papers.
- The seven papers to clear are divided into two distinct groups which can be either taken together or different by the aspirant.
- Taking into account that the student passes CPT along with 12th boards, they are expected to pass this exams with the first year of their respective B.A course.
- The pass percentage for the course is 10% approximately.
- Out of the 125 students who sit for the exam, only 12.5 manage to clear the level.
- 3rd Level
- This requires one to under an arduous articleship for a period of three years. This is the most rigorous part of the whole process. With meager stipend and long work hours, this phase of the process helps on gain experience. But to manage the heavy work load with preparation with the final exams is a challenge.
- The final level
- The final level consist of 8 papers divided into two groups.
- Under the assumption that the person passes all the exams at the earliest, one should be eligible for this exam at the age of 21 years.
- 8% is the passing percentage for the exam, roughly.
- Out of the 12.5 students who sit for the exam, only 1 clears the exam.
CAREER OPTIONS AND SCOPE
Multitudes of avenues open up to a CA once they finish the three levels of exams on one level of Articleship. There are numerous career options and scopes are available including:
- Independent professional practice – CAs with an entrepreneurial inclination can come together with like minded individuals to start their own firm and operate as an individual unit.
- Working for a CA firm – The most obvious option is to work with a well reputed CA firm. This ensure abundant of experience and guidance from expertise.
- Joining government or non-government organizations – Various government and non – government organizations offer fresh CA jobs with good salary packages.
- Banking sector – Job roles which require working on financial strategies, funding and strategy in banks are filled by Charted Accountants.
- Corporate world – Join the corporate world is an obvious option. The work can range from planning, auditing, taxation and investment, depending upon the focus of the company.
- Join KPO and Business Process Management companies – KPO and BPM companies provide, immense flexibility for on to take up a role of your choice and field and work in the same.
- Outside India – Institute of CA of India, is well recognized in Wales, England and Australia, making it easier for CAs to practice abroad if they want to.
- Financial and manufacturing sector – There is a growing demand for Charted Accountants in financial and manufacturing sector in India.
JOB AND PRACTICE
One of the most daunting questions that ever CA has to think and decide on is whether to go for job or their own respective practice. However, when it comes to taking the right decision, there are different factors to take into consideration, including:
For a job the maximum wait period is up to 2-3 months, until you land a job with a good remuneration. Setting up solo work requires much more hard work and a time period of 2 -3 years. But once you have good contact and network, things become easier. It ultimately depend upon you – what you want to learn and when.
- The avenues
There are many avenues to work in for CA jobs as well as for CA practice. For jobs it is straight forwards, you can opt to work in a range of companies and organizations in various fields. For setting up your own practice, one needs an initial investment, which can be funded by grants and can be subsidized too.
- Learning curve
The learning curve when it comes to CA practice is much more, as one has to keep abreast with topics and the current development. The networking and undertaking the painful task of sustaining a business, is much more than the learning you might get at work place in a job.
- The finance
There is a good salary package initially that is in the short run. However, CA practice though requires more struggle, gives one more profits over the years. Thus, this choice, depends on whether one is myopic or not.
Though one can switch from job to practice, it is not an easy transition. The switching might make one feel disoriented and out of place. Only a handful of people, switch from practice to jobs in the long run.
SALARY IN INDIA
With immense potential and opportunities, CA and related jobs pay a handsome amount. The average salary is between 7–8 Lacs, for an Employed Qualified CA. However, the Standard Deviation is quite high between the ranges of Rs. 76 Lacs to Rs. 4 Lacs. Chartered Accountants may work in any sphere of the industry, including public, private and governmental agencies/organizations. These might also include educational institutions, local government offices and private accounting firms.
No one can deny the important role Chartered Accountants play in the economy and the world. With rigor, the right vision and integrity, Chartered Accountants are of the most sought after courses in the country. It requires dedication and immense hard work but the benefits are sure worth the wait and work.
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Author: Andreena Sung