Education has a wide base and there are a large number of subjects to choose from. When it comes to higher education or area of study at a higher level, your choice becomes more significant. In most of the cases, this choice determines the career avenues or vocations open to you. Few educational qualifications are of general nature which makes you eligible for a large number of positions, but since there are more candidates with such general qualifications, competition is also tough.
On the other side, there are specialized qualifications, which in a way narrow your choices of a career path but since such qualifications are not possessed by too many people, competition is also less. However, choosing a general or specialized course should be based on the interest and aptitude of a person. For example, if your interest lies in studying human behavior, psychology would be a better choice than studying physics.
Students looking for a job oriented professional course may consider enrolling for a Chartered Accountancy course provided they feel comfortable with numbers and calculations. Chartered accountancy, though specialized, is a popular course in general and commerce students, in particular. Earlier this course used to be preferred more by students living in metros and big cities, but now small-town students are also taking up this course and finding value in it.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), set up by an Act of Parliament is the regulating and administering body for the chartered accountancy course in our country. The institute was established in 1949 with its headquarter in New Delhi. At present, the institute has its regional offices at Chennai, Kolkata, Kanpur, and Mumbai and branch offices in many more cities.
Educational requirements For Pursuing Chartered Accountancy
Educational requirements have been made flexible for the chartered accountancy course. If you decide early, you may join it along your 10+2 course. The maximum number of students choose this option. However, the course may also be taken up after graduation or post-graduation also. Both entry channels operate differently. The first route is called Foundation Course Route and the latter as Direct Entry Route.
Foundation Course Route:
Any student who is about to appear in the 10+2 examination may enroll for the foundation course in chartered accountancy. Four months study period is given to students to prepare for the foundation course. After completing the four months’ period you need to appear in the foundation course examination which is conducted twice a year. If you register by 30th June, you may take up the examination in the following November.
For those registering in the second half of the year, i.e. by 31st December the examination may be taken up in May of the following year.
After passing this foundation examination, successful candidates may join the intermediate course. A four weeks integrated course on information technology and soft skills called ICITSS is required to be taken by such joinees. After eight months of study, candidates may start taking the intermediate examination. This intermediate examination has two groups.
After passing the first group or both the groups’ candidate has to join articleship which is practical training as part of the course with a duration of three years. Those who pass both groups, intermediate examination, and complete articleship, or have only 6 months left to complete the articleship may register for the final examination.
Direct Entry Route:
The direct entry route is open to graduates or postgraduates in Commerce with a minimum of 55% marks. Graduates or postgraduates in subjects other than commerce need to have a minimum of 60% marks. Such eligible candidates may register for intermediate courses and follow further procedures which now becomes common both for the foundation course route and direct entry route. In the CA final course, all the students have to successfully complete four weeks’ advanced integrated course on information technology and soft skills After completion of the final examination, candidates can enroll as a member of ICAI and are designated as Chartered Accountant.
The chartered accountancy course is broadly a mix of accountancy law, taxation, and management.
The Foundation course has four papers viz. Principles and Practice of Accounting, Business Laws, Business Correspondence and Reporting, Business Mathematics, Logical Reasoning and Statistics, Business Economics, and Business/ Commercial Knowledge.
The syllabus of intermediate examination, include papers on Accounting, Corporate Law, Cost and Management Accounting, Taxation, Advanced Accounting, Auditing and Assurance, Enterprise Information System and Strategic Management, Financial Management and Economics for Finance.
In the final examination, candidates have to appear in eight papers which are Financial Reporting, Strategic Financial Management, Advanced Auditing, and Professional Ethics, Corporate and Economic Laws, Strategic Cost Management and Performance Evaluation, Risk Management, Financial Services, and Capital Markets, Economic Laws, International Taxation, Global Financial Reporting Standards, Case Studies from different disciplines, Indirect Tax Laws, Direct Tax Laws, and International Taxation.
Practical/articled training is intended to develop skills in applying theoretical knowledge to practical situations and provide professional orientation. Only those entities which fulfill the requirements prescribed by ICAI are permitted to train students. An agreement between the student and the training institute has to be entered in the manner prescribed by ICAI. For this training. Students are also required to be paid stipend by the training institute, as per norms prescribed by ICAI. In many cases, the stipend paid is higher than the minimum prescribed amount.
The institute conducts events/ lectures/seminars which are open to being attended by its students. Students may also get credit (points) for attending these. Exposure to such events with a blend of theoretical education and practical training equips the students with the required level of professional knowledge and skills simultaneously.
To its successful students, ICAI helps them in placement. ICAI arranges for campus placement and otherwise also works as a link between job seekers and job providers. The institute has a good industry connect which proves beneficial for its students.
Acquiring a CA qualification requires hard work and dedication.
Career Choices for a Chartered Accountant
Chartered accountants have varied career choices both in the government and private sectors and also beyond these. They may choose to take up a suitable position in business or industry, join a practicing firm of chartered accountants, set up their own professional practice, or get associated with capital, money or forex markets. In chartered accountancy or consulting firm your role may be as one or more of the following.
In the role of audit manager you will be managing/conducting an audit of your client firms which may be manufacturing/ trading companies/ banks/insurance companies/ non-banking financial institutes etc. This is the most common assignment available to chartered accountants.
Every business organization’s financial operations are subject to tax laws. Tax managers provide tax consultancy and tax planning advice to companies and individuals.
Financial consulting has a larger domain and encompasses offering expert advice in resource mobilization, project management, mergers, and acquisitions, etc.
As a system consultant, a chartered accountant shall be conducting systems audit, application testing, and provide security advisory services.
Other than that a chartered accountant can choose to work in organizations undertaking different types of businesses.
The following can be considered by Chartered accountants as possible employers –
In government banks, chartered accountants are eligible to join as a specialist officer in the area of finance. Mostly these officers are required to work in planning, finance, or inspection/audit/ compliance department. Banks are subjected to various kinds of audits. Some of this is conducted with in-house auditors and some external auditors are engaged for a fee. In banks, your role would be to ensure that audit and inspection norms are followed and also to coordinate with external auditors. You will also contribute to the preparation of balance sheet, profit, and loss statement, and various other statutory and non-statutory reports. In private banks (which also include foreign banks) chartered accountants are appointed in good numbers and their role is similar to that of government banks.
Insurance companies too are divided into public and private sectors with further bifurcation in life and non-life sector. Among public sector insurance companies, the entry level position for officers is Assistant Administrative Officer for which positions are made available in both generalist and specialist category.
In the Life Insurance Corporation of India, you may apply for AAO (CA) and in public sector general insurance companies for AAO (Accounts).
Private sector insurance companies may source candidates from the pool of successful CA candidates registered with ICAI and then make the final selection after conducting their own exercise of an interview, group discussion, etc. There are a large number of, life and non-life insurance, companies operating in the country.
In stockbroking firms, chartered accountants may be appointed for accounting and compliance work. They may also get into the roles of equity researchers and analysts.
Mutual fund companies:
Our country has a large base of investors in mutual funds and there are a number of mutual fund companies some of which have foreign partners. In mutual fund companies also, you have opportunities to work in finance and account functions or in equity research.
Credit rating agencies:
The job of credit rating agencies is to assign a credit rating to financial offerings like bonds and debentures and also to borrowers. These ratings are crucial in making investment decisions or considering requests for loans, as the case may be. CRISIL, ICRA, CARE are among the leading rating agencies in our country. You may also explore the opportunity to work in rating agencies operating globally.
Government and Public sector companies:
Various government and public sector companies also need the services of chartered accountants who are recruited at both entry-level and laterally. Advertisements are issued for such positions and you’ve to keep looking for that. Examples of such companies may include Power Finance Corporation, PTC India Limited, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, National Highways Authority of India, etc, State Industrial Corporations and Finance corporations also recruit chartered accountants.
In law firms that provide legal consultancy to their clients, many cases to be dealt with relate to financial matters. To deal with such matters and also managing the accounts function of these firms, chartered accountants may be needed.
Private Sector Companies:
All big private sector companies belonging to different sectors have requirements of chartered accountants for their accounts and finance department. These include fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs), information technology (IT) companies, automobile manufacturers, power companies. These companies may also be multinationals and corporate giants.
With a qualification in chartered accountancy, it is possible to have an excellent career with regulators like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). SEBI recruits grade ‘A’ officers almost every year and CA is an acceptable qualification for this.
Non-Banking Financial Companies:
There are many Non-Banking Financial Companies and the reputed ones offer a good opportunity to chartered accountants.
Investment bankers work in different areas of finance. They’re basically financial intermediaries which work as a link between users and providers of capital. They bring together those who need money (for establishing/ expanding industry etc.) with those who have money to invest (venture capitalists, NBFCs, etc.).
Investment bankers also facilitate mergers and acquisitions etc. Investment banking is considered a lucratic career bur also a highly demanding one.
Acquiring additional qualifications
Though the qualification of chartered accountancy is considered complete in itself, there are few additional qualifications that one may consider acquiring for the purpose of specializing and/or strengthening their career.
One of these is a degree in law (LLB).
ICAI has the following courses which may be pursued post-CA.
- Diploma in Management and Business Finance Management Accountancy Course
- Corporate ManagementCourse
- Tax ManagementCourse
- Diploma in Insurance and Risk Management
- International Trade Laws World Trade Organizations
- Information System Audit
- Diploma in International Taxation
Other courses a qualified CA may consider are MBA (Finance), Company Secretaryship, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), courses in treasury management/risk management.