There is so much I want to talk about. But I would like to start with one thing - Why did you fail me the first time? You know I worked hard right?
Jokes apart, let us get to the main subject. ICAI is subject to a lot of scrutiny and criticism by the students after every attempt. Through this letter, I want to thank the ICAI for the things it does and also suggest some changes to their working style. No one is perfect and that applies to the ICAI too. Remember, this is going to be a long one.
Things I would like to thank the ICAI for -
1. No Reservation - The IITs, IIMs of India have to accommodate reservation. The ICAI does not. This helps in keeping the quality of the professionals intact and no one receives any freebies. Kudos for that. We pass the "deserved", not the "reserved".
2. Maintaining the Level of Exam - Even with thousands of classes, lacs of students, no one can say they know the secret, or the EXACT FORMULA to clear the CA exams. The level of the exams is top notch and ICAI is always successful in springing atleast one surprise element every attempt. Remember the Nov 2015 SFM paper? *Shudders*
3. Keeping the Syllabus Up to date - Any change in the accounting, law or tax system is incorporated ASAP by the institute. Be it GST, Ind AS or the Companies Act, 2013. The books and other reference material are made available on time. In an age where even apps need to be "updated" from time to time, it is very important that the students be totally aware of the latest trends and policies.
4. Extremely Low fees - As far as professional qualifications are concerned, I do not think a course can be cheaper than this! Also, scholarships are awarded to students who need them, to assist them economically. It definitely has one of the best Return on Investment. At a time when the IIMs are increasing fees almost annually, it is refreshing to see the ICAI keep their finances in control.
Areas which need improvement -
1. Transparency in Correction - We see hordes of students complaining vehemently about the ICAI paper correction system year after year. Many pictures of correct answers not getting marks have gone viral. This year it went even one step further when a separate list of students who had "passed" leaked whereas they had not officially passed. These incidents destroy the confidence of the students in the system and I can say for sure, there is a trust deficit. This needs to improve. Random mark deductions are not cool.
2. Variable Pass percentages - We had a 3% pass result in November 2013, a 5.9% in November 2015 and a ~11% result in May 2016. For IPCC, too the results have varied way too much. Is it a professional exam result or the Sensex? So much volatility will even scare Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. This variability demotivates the students a lot. Many deserving people fail due to a bad result (Nov 13) rather than due to their fault. I guess it is time, we adopt a system where the pass percentage remains in a limited range, just like the CFA. This way, the students atleast know what to expect.
3. Focus on Communication - I have seen first attempt CAs/ CA rankers struggle in communicating with others. In GMCS, I was shocked to see CA final students/ CAs so poor in public speaking. I would urge ICAI to improve focus on these aspects. A mere 15 day GMCS just does not seem enough. Many CAs target getting into top IBs and MNCs after they graduate. Working in such an environment demands good communication skills. The quality of CAs will go up a notch higher if this criteria is also met.
4. Organizing more competitions and festivals - Engineers do this and so do management students. Organizing and participating in festivals and competitions will develop team work skills and even show the creative side of many students. I myself participated in 2 ICAI events where I was in the dance team. However the awareness about such events is very low. I would urge ICAI to increase the focus here. There is a perception that CA students are boring. They are not. It is just they have no way to showcase their talents.
"Koi bhi Desh perfect nai hota, usse perfect banana padta hai." Same way, no institute is perfect. I hope the ICAI looks at these issues and continues to do the good work.
For all the flak it receives, it does a fabulous job :)