Whether you like it or not, sometime in the future, you will have to pay taxes. However, it takes more than a brilliant mind to understand its intricacies. Albert Einstein once famously said, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax." If a mastermind like Einstein had this to say, you can very well imagine how much hard work and intellect goes into mastering this highly specialised field.
Attracted by immense money making potential, many students choose chartered accountancy as a career path. But it is not a cakewalk and one has to pass a series of examinations which progressively get tougher. The percentage of students who clear it is very less but if you swear by hard work and determination, success will surely be yours. So guys read on if you want to know, why that BMW with a 'CA' sticker whizzed past you at the traffic signal and left you thinking, what does a 'CA' do to own a BMW and pass you by at racing speeds?
Study Duration & Best countries to study
Chartered accountancy in India is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) which was established by Parliament under the Chartered Accountants Act of 1949. Since then, the term Chartered Accountant has been used in place of Indian Registered Accountant. This is the statutory body which administers, regulates and awards certifications or degrees to successful candidates and subsequently they can call themselves Chartered Accountants.
Chartered Accountancy in India can be pursued after class 12 or graduation. The whole course can be summarized as follows:
- Foundation course was introduced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India; it is suited for students who complete their class 12. It is a yearlong course, mostly taken up in a distance education format. Upon successful completion, students can apply for internship (article ship) with any experienced CAs.
- During article ship, students are paid a stipend and get to learn the intricacies of accountancy. A firsthand experience into the functioning of finance, audit, tax or any other chosen specialisation is what the students learn in article ship. Simultaneously, students enrol in intermediate courses and take its examination.
- Once you pass the intermediate examination, you can serve in any financial, commercial or industrial project as part of the training. This training ranges from about 9 months to a year.
- If you appear for the intermediate examination during article ship, you can take the final examination. Once you pass the final examination, you need to gain membership to the ICAI before they can start practicing as a CA.
England is the Hail Mary of all countries in accountancy as on a relative scale, 'Chartered' are paid the highest here! This birthplace of industrial revolution also happens to the Mecca of regulated accountancy (later the nomenclature was changed to Chartered Accountancy). Here, students do not have to obtain any license to practice accountancy but to use the title of "Chartered Accountant" you should be a member of any of the following organisations.
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) (You will be called ACA or FCA)
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) (Like wise here you will be knows as CA)
The minimum eligibility to sit for the U.S. Certified Public examination is generally a four year university degree. Most states in the US require 150 university semester-hours before you can sit for the CPA exam. Lawyers and accountants are said to have the most number of Rolex watches between them in the entire of America. So go ahead and fly to the land of hot dogs and begin your career filled with green bills and Rolexes.
On a serious note, the system of regulation and certification in the US for accountants is different than that of India or UK. Having an ICAI degree may not get you the million dollar job but will give you eligibility to sit for the CPA examination.
What do people from such field get trained to do:
Chartered accountants perform a variety of functions. A few of them are listed below.
- Cost Accountancy
- Special Company Work
- Companies Secretarial work
- Management Accounting
- Share Valuation
A Chartered accountant can also act as an arbitrator to settle disputes concerning insolvency and company fraud.
Univariety recommendation: If you planning to file for bankruptcy in future or declare insolvency make sure you know at least one brilliant Chartered Accountant to pull you out from the trouble!
Do international options open up in this field or largely local options?
Opportunities exist in both India and abroad but being a course closely related to local laws, there is higher probability of finding jobs in India. Also, as mentioned earlier Chartered Accountancy in India is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. The umbrella organisation under which this bodyis a member is Edinburgh Society of Accountants (formed 1854), the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries (1854), and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants. Simply put, a student completing a course in India can find related opportunities in any of the commonwealth countries (Those countries which were, or are a part of the British Dominion and now United Kingdom). So if you looking for opportunities abroad, UK and Australia are good options. USA follows a different pattern and hence you may not get the best jobs for your profile.
What are the job and career prospects after completing the courses in this field?
Having a professional qualification ensures that one doesn't have to start working at any entry level jobs. Typical designations for CAs are:
- Finance Manager
- Accounts Manager and
- Internal Auditor
These jobs lead to senior management roles such as
- Financial Controllers
Typically, it takes about 10 years to reach the above roles. Chartered Accountants also have plenty of opportunities in:
- Capital markets (Share markets and bond markets)
- Business houses like any multinational conglomerate or a big blue chip company
- Investment companies
- Financial consultancies ( Karvy Consultancy is an example)
Professionally qualified Chartered Accountants are required for research, preparing project reports and do budget planning along with cost analysis.
What kind of companies do you work for?
- Employment in the government and public sector offers regular working hours and also all the ‘sarkari’ benefits like a red beacon installed Ambassador car!
- The private sector offers greater opportunity in terms of work and money but also can be really taxing in terms of responsibility. There is a requirement for greater day-to-day involvement in the financial and business operations of the company.
Is it necessary to be a part of a firm or can one be an entrepreneur?
This is entirely a matter of personal choice, guided by preferences and individual tastes. Depending on what you feel comfortable you can either join an accountancy firm as an associate or start your own venture. Like every business, an accountancy start up will also have to deal with logistic, infrastructure and income flow issues. We recommend that you work for an experienced CA for a few years and then branch out after knowing the working of accountancy firms inside out.
Usain Bolt did not directly run the Olympics; he practiced at his school and locality level first before jumping the big league! Similarly get a firm grounding in accountancy while working and then start your own firm. This way you can get that cherished Ferrari sooner!
What subjects can I not study if I choose this field?
The students who choose CA as a career path normally start preparing at class 10 and accordingly choose commerce at class 11 and 12. This is because high school study in commerce will help in pursuing CA foundation course as both have a few common subjects. So, if you have studied commerce at class 12 then you may not be able to pursue any technical or medicine related course. Apart from technical courses, there is no such restriction on fields or subjects you can pursue after completion of CA. Do you want to change a field and leave all the pots of money you can make being a chartered accountant, that's for you to decide!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of making a career in this field?
- The profession is highly challenging as a career choice.
- On the positive side, this is a profession that pays well and provides opportunities for fast growth within a few years of leaving high school. No other profession affords lucrative career opportunities so soon, not even Engineering or Medicine.
- One also has the advantage of offering competent services across the board or specialising in one or more domains within Chartered Accountancy.
- Jobs are practically guaranteed on enrolment at the Institute and the training makes candidates career-ready even before they received the official certification.
- The examinations are difficult with very low pass rates.
- Updating oneself constantly is a given in Chartered Accountancy since new rules and regulations are added continuously by the lawmakers and one could get left behind and cause immense losses to clients if one's not aware of the changing scenario.
- The responsibility stakes are really high in this profession since CAs are the official money managers.
- The profession is in the direct line of fire when companies are not doing well or have been found to have compromised financial ethics.
- One has to be really careful and execute work with integrity and independence in this profession.
Chartered Accountancy is a profession where returns are quite high, be it public, private sector or a self run business. Salaries of C.A.s employed in public or private sector companies vary depending upon qualification and experience. Average salaries at junior level are 10000 to 15000 per month while person with 5 years experience can expect to get 50000 to 60000 per month.
Chartered Accountants who are engaged in consultancy and private practice also earn enviable incomes depending upon the numbers and kinds of clients they have. Sky is the limit in this field but it all boils down to a lot of hard work coupled with calibre to understand finance, tax or audit, which ever the case may be.
|Experience in Years||Compensation per annum|
|0 to 5 years||1.5 to 6 lakhs|
|6 to 10 years||5-12 lakhs|
|11 to 15 years||14-24 lakhs|
|15 years||25 lakhs and above|
Describe the ideal personality and skills sets needed to be successful in this field?
To be a good Chartered Accountant, you require sound business skills and numerical ability. Also, good communication skills, objectivity, independence of thought and integrity coupled with the ability to work under the pressure of deadlines form the ingredients of your magic potion. A healthy dosage of this potion will guarantee you that BMW you’ve been yearning for and more!
Go on, bring forth the number cruncher genie in you and let the magic begin!