Lessons for chartered accountant students as well as those who have already cleared CA Exams and on their career path.
Wholeheartedly Shared by CA Kaushal Raiyarela. We are thankful to him.
Chartered Accountancy – “CA” is a very renowned and valued degree in India as well as in many other countries other than India. And hence it is also a fact that same is believed to be one of the toughest exams in India especially in Commerce stream. However, this should never de-motivate any student from joining it. There are many aspects of “CA” Curriculum which actually makes it interesting at the same time very important for professional life. As a qualified Chartered Accountant, I am feeling privileged in sharing my experiences and thoughts of this course pre joining, post joining and post qualification. I hope that this would be helpful to many other students who are aspiring to become a Chartered Accountant.
I have segregated this article in various phases to have better understanding for each and every student at various stages of his / her studies.
After completing 10th standard, people were forcing me to go for Science stream considering my results. I had been relatively bright student during my school days and had scored relatively good marks in all important exams till 10th. However, personally, I was never interested in any of Science subjects and I was not even confident of getting good results. Hence, I end up joining commerce stream post which I developed my likings for Accountancy and Finance subjects.
Choose a stream to which you can connect yourself:
This is my advice to each and every student to pursue career in a stream to which you can connect. Apart from those who have joined Commerce stream already, they should go for this course again if they think they find suitable career in that and not only for the sake of others who are forcing them to join or just because they don’t find any other option. At the same time, I have seen students who do not go for this course just because they feel it is very tough and he/she is not capable of clearing this exam, although they have likings for CA subjects. One will always be able to clear CA if they like the subjects, it’s not rocket science we cannot comprehend.
Requirement of studying 14-16 hours is a myth:
Moreover, although it is one of the toughest exams, it doesn’t mean that one has to read 16-18 hours daily. Many students do not join only because they heard people saying that one has to put in that many hours in study daily. This is not true. To clear CA examination only important thing is development of good understanding of all concepts. So if anyone who feels he/she has good understanding / liking for Finance, Accounts, Taxation, Law etc., can join the course and clear it with reasonably sufficient efforts.
2. Pursuing CA (Post Joining):
Advisable to Join along with Graduation:
Ideally it is advisable to join CA before or along with your Graduation. However, for those who have already started their graduation, it is never too late. Benefits of early joining are first of all, possibility of completing course at reasonable age i.e. between 22-24 years which I should consider ideal. Post-Graduation, it will get delayed; however, it doesn’t mean its value diminishes. Moreover, most of the time, curriculum of CA course around 30% is similar to Graduation subjects and hence it always helps.
Importance of Coaching Classes:
Nowadays, there are many CA coaching classes. There is no harm in joining any of the CA coaching classes. Coaching classes always help students in completion of courses in time. Another benefit of Coaching classes as that they are very much objective and exam oriented and hence student get good insight of past exam trends and patterns and also it enables them to identify important topics and questions. Also from other students, many important information and updates are available.
Inability to Join Coaching Classes cannot stop you from becoming CA:
However, those who do not want to join or because of some or the other reason cannot join Coaching classes should not get demoralized. Self-Study also has its own benefits such as understanding of each and every basic concepts and principles which are normally not taught in coaching classes. However, it is always recommended that those who do not join coaching classes should keep themselves updated by meeting other students in colleges and libraries.
Regular Studies are important and not 14-16 hours a day, conceptual clarity is must:
As mentioned above, it is not necessary that one has to read 14-16 hours every day to succeed. However, CA curriculum is lengthy except CPT, hence, it is difficult to study whole syllabus at last moment. Hence, regular study is advised and same should be revised also. However, one should never mug up. Conceptual understanding is must.
Articleship: This is one of the most important and critical phase of CA course which actually distinguish it from many other courses. As per CA course, student is required to undergo practical training for 3-3.5 years. Let’s discuss why Articleship is important:
1. Insight to Practical world: Many other courses have strong curriculum however, it does not either have any practical training as a part of it or it is for very short period. CA student has to do 3 years practical training wherein he gets experience of a CA firm and also industry.
2. CA Professional with Qualification and 3 years’ experience: 3 years duration is long enough to gain really good experience in any field. Hence, when a student completes 3-3.5 years of Articleship and also completes CA examination, he/she has 3 years of experience with him that gives him/her an edge over many other competitive courses like MBA, CS and ICWA.
3. Useful in Exam Preparation: Because of practical experience of Articleship, a student develops practical approach while learning solution of any problem. Majority of subjects in CA have case studies and practical questions such as Audit, Taxation, Accounts, Finance, and Law etc. In examination, student is expected to give practical answers and not a bookish answer.
4. A supportive source of earning: An article gets minimum stipend during this 3 to 3.5 years of Articleship. In metro cities, where there is high volume of work, stipend amount is also reasonably high and provides good monetary back up to students to meet its study expenses. This way it makes it possible to each and every student to try his/her best in exams by getting good study material and coaching.
5. Unreasonable demands of Classes Schedule: However, in some cities and it has been observed that Coaching classes are encouraging students to attend more and more classes and avoid Articleship or in some cases Coaching classes have lengthy hours so that students do not get time to go for Articleship. This is not at all encouraged. One should join Articleship and complete full 3-3.5 years Articleship.
6. Flexibility in Articleship is also important: At the same time, it cannot be denied that clearing CA Final exam is always first priority for students. Hence, in my opinion timely study is more important as it is primary requirement to clear exams. This is contradicting to my earlier statement. But, one should join Articleship where there is flexibility for studies also. Work while work and study while they are important.
7. Hyped Craze for Big Four: In metro cities, there is a craze of joining big firms like Big 4 and other large and mid-large firms for Articleship. Many students feel frustrated when they do not get Articleship in these firms. In my opinion, working in big firms has benefits however at the same time some drawbacks. Due to very heavy workload, students find it difficult to regularly study and do revision. They also get less leaves for exams and ultimately has to appear for many attempts.
8. Advantages of Small firms: Those working in small firms get good time for studies. Secondly, in small firms there are work benefits such as experience of variety of work, experience of leadership and decision making etc. as in smaller firms there is lesser staff. Hence, if someone wants to join bigger firms they should be ready for above consequences and those who cannot join should not at all worry as their career is still on right track.
Curriculum: CA curriculum is split in 3 different exams.
Foundation/CPT: 1st is mainly about fundamentals. It was earlier known as Foundation, than PE1 and now CPT. Major portion of syllabus is same as 11thand 12th standard which covers basic accounting, Communication and Management related topics, Mathematics etc. Purpose behind this examination is to evaluate basic knowledge that student has about these subjects before starting with core subjects.
IPCC/Intermediate and Final Level: Other 2 exams have contents that develop professional expertise in a student. (At IPCC level, institute expects working knowledge from students). These 2 exams, namely IPCC and Final as per current pattern, have subjects like Advanced Accounting with Accounting standard, Auditing and Advance Auditing, Direct and Indirect Taxation, IT and System audit related topics, Financial Management, Costing and Cost Management, Companies Act and related corporate laws etc. At this level, student develops conceptual and practical knowledge of these subjects. Student understands many of these subjects practically during Articleship and then in Final exams, majority of these topics are covered in depth and at the same time with broad contents where there is no limitations or boundaries. Once a student completes Final examination, he/she is expected to have thorough knowledge of all the above subjects and hence same is tested during Final examination where students are expected to apply their practical learning during Articleship along with theoretical and conceptual knowledge.
CA Institution has been very efficient in designing the whole syllabus which has covered almost each and every aspect of professional life of a Chartered Accountant.
General Management and Communication Skills (GMCS):
This is also a very interesting aspect of CA course. People used to say or rather it was widely believed that CA students and professionals are best at knowledge and solution providing however, when it comes to presentation and Communication and also PR, students from other fields i.e. MBAs etc. have edge of Chartered Accountants. In there is no doubt that these qualities are must in any field, business, profession and in any part of the world. Institute started GMCS to impart Communication and Management related training to students pursuing CA to develop abovementioned skills also and to compete in the professional world. This training is for 15 days which is also very helpful as explained above and students should attend and participate in these programs. Institute has also started Residential Program where above trainings are given for 3 months for which Institute has a tie up with a reputed Management Institute.
Information Technology Training: IT has become backbone of almost all industry and Finance and Accountancy is also not exception to this. Accounting is being done on high end softwares like ERP and many other communications and presentations are done through IT based instruments. Hence knowledge of these things is very important for each and every individual. For CA, it has 2 dimensional important i.e 1. As a user 2. As an auditor to check authenticity and reliability. CA institute understood this fact and hence incorporated IT training where student gets basic Computer related training which will enable them to efficiently execute and perform their professional duties.
Post Qualification: Completion of all the above results in a dynamic professional called Chartered accountant who are expected to have solution for each and every business related problems.
Unlimited Career Option: A qualified Chartered Accountant has ‘N’ number of career options due to wide array of subjects and topics which are learnt practically and theoretically during above mentioned process. I had been told by one Practicing Chartered Accountant that a Chartered Accountant can pursue his career in as many as 130 different fields. Obviously I did not list down them but this suggests that what is the scope for a Chartered Accountant in Indian economy and at the same time it carries responsibility and expectations.
Be Smart In choosing Your Career after CA: Next small portion of this article is the last but most important aspect in my opinion. Many students feel that once they have completed their CA, everything is complete and same is the case with parents of these students. However, as explained above, true test is Post Qualification only. As I mentioned that there are multiple options for a Chartered Accountant, this can work negatively also if a correct path is not chosen. A qualified CA many a times gets attracted to good Salary packages etc. during campus interviews and accepts offer in a field in which he is not interested. For example, someone who wants to join banking sector end up in an internal audit of manufacturing sector. Ultimately in long run, he will get frustrated of his work and it becomes difficult to find job in field of his interest. Hence, it is always advised that one should be patient and smart in choosing jobs or career paths.
Small Firms for Post Qualification: I had mentioned earlier that, there is nothing wrong in working in small firms during Articleship. However, one can get good experience post qualification also. For that, many CAs work in mid-size CA firms to get better experience which they could not get during Articleship. Initially he/she may feel that it is waste of time but in future this experience always helps. Hence, it is my advice to each and every person that on completion of CA, choosing right field and right career path is utmost important and most critical of all.
I wish all the above information is helpful to each and every person for whom it is meant to be. I would like to emphasize on the fact that there is no one thing right or wrong as long as one achieves success with other alternatives. However, above is my view point and experience about Chartered Accountancy course.
Kindly keep reading for other articles on Exam preparation, Reading Material etc.
CA Kaushal Raiyarela