A chartered Accountant has always been considered as an integral part of business. He participates in almost all functional areas of a business i.e. advice on maintaining books of accounts, ascertaining costs of production at different levels of operations, guidance to management on various cost control methods, formulation of policies, performance evaluation, etc. Chartered Accountants play an invaluable role due to their specialised skills in auditing techniques, taxation matters, due diligence, valuation services, counselling in investment activities and so on. Thus, a CA not only plays a role as an advisor to a business but also becomes an integral part of the business. It is the relationship that a CA establishes with the client which enables him to build a specific approach to providing services to the business.
How about the inverse fact – CA as a successful entrepreneur? Instead of aiding businesses, can CA’s run successful businesses themselves?
Practice versus Employment
Practice versus employment has always been a debatable topic over the years. A choice to practice as a CA or opt for a job is subjective. One cannot really say which is better. Practice and job both are good in different conditions. Both have pros and cons. Practice enables the flexibility to work on one’s own terms. It does not bind an individual to specific terms and conditions and work timings. Whereas, the work timings and terms are restrictive in case of a job. Another aspect as regards to practice is the risk bearing capacity. Practice requires a very high ability to undertake risks which is not the case in a job. The initial inflows in practice are low or almost nil. An initial investment is required as compared to employment which provides job security and regular income in times of tough competition. In comparison, practice may be difficult to start with. It takes at least four to five years to set up a full-fledged practice. Unless one gets better opportunities and aspects, one cannot venture into new areas beyond a certain extent. This is possible through practice.
With today’s dynamic world, the avenues for Chartered Accountants have opened many folds. Job prospects are available right from the entrance level in Industry all up to the top-management level. Providing consultancy services by acting as an independent consultant is another option. One can practice as a proprietor, or venture into a partnership or form a network of associates through network practicing. Thus, in either ways an individual can expand beyond one’s capacity.
Business and Practice
Starting a business is difficult because there is no template or guide to follow. With globalisation, the role of Chartered Accountants has become multi-faceted. It is restricted to neither Industry nor practice. CA’s are venturing out of the conventional fields and establishing businesses. Many young Chartered Accountants are opting out of conventional ways of practice and industry and establishing their own start-ups. They are no longer restricted to industry or practice. So is it possible for CA’s to do a successful business? Is entrepreneurship an acumen or a skill that can be acquired? CA’s are entrepreneurs. A businessman establishes his enterprise to earn profit by selling goods. A practicing CA charges professional fees by rendering services through his skill, knowledge, competence and experience. A risk taking attitude is required both in business and practice. The initial time taken to establish oneself is long in both cases. Since there are similarities among both, it can thus be said that Chartered Accountants possess the entrepreneurship spirit.
Are CA’s capable of doing a successful business?
The curriculum coverage of ICAI is so exhaustive that it covers all the subjects which concern an enterprise. From Financial Management that helps in forecasting, financial and investment decision making, to Cost Management that helps manage the factory operations. Subjects such as Taxation and Law equip one with tax and legal planning. Accounting and Auditing form an integral function. Information Technology keeps one updated on the latest technological front whereas Strategic Management enables the long term decision making and Market study process. Thus the CA curriculum is so designed that a CA is well equipped with every functional activity of an organisation. This has thus enabled Chartered Accountants to develop the ability to easily understand and frame the business structures and processes. He can easily grasp and understand the functions right from the shop-floor all the way to the management. The articleship period for students helps one to get well acquainted with the organisational departments. Also various committees of ICAI such as the Committee of Small and Medium Practitioners is actively undertaking various measures to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship among its members.
For those who want to avoid rigid structures and methodologies, entrepreneurship is the way! It is also a flexible option for women in long run. However, the role for an entrepreneur is evolving at every stage. One has to wear many hats. At the initial phase of start-up one is required to wear marketing hat. It eventually changes to admin, execution, HR, delivery and different roles. However, an entrepreneur is expected to wear many hats at the same time. In order to be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to embrace failure and undertake calculated risks. Above all, it is the work satisfaction, personal goals and motivation that acts as a driving force in decision making.
Chartered Accountants Today
Today, Chartered Accountants both freshers and experienced are venturing into business. They are setting up Consultancy firms which provide consultancy and advisory services to different companies across the world. Many are partnering with other professionals such as Companies Secretaries, Advocates etc. through Limited Liability Partnerships. Companies providing financial and advisory services, concept of Virtual CFOs, distributor networks, valuations, ERP development and implementation, construction industry, education – teaching, share broking and securities, insurance are among the few areas where CA’s are conducting businesses. It is the knowledge base of chartered accountants that help them to understand and analyse the industry. The expertise is an added advantage. The awareness of laws and regulations gives CAs an added advantage for implementation of systems and processes in their own start-ups or establishment.
Nevertheless, it cannot be said that CAs can be successful in business in every field or industry. It is subjective. To do business, knowledge and technicality of product is necessary to some extent which would thereby help to analyse the market and industry trends. Thus, a business venture into for example an engineering product or linguistics or medical field may be a difficult task to venture into since it requires a specialised set of skills but not impossible. The creative mind and the ability to think out of the box may aid CAs to be successful in the fields where they have domain knowledge since it would be an added advantage.
A combination of expert knowledge base and business acumen would definitely boost a CA in achieving success in the years to come.
In the end, it is all about passion that drives and makes a mark!
By: Hetvi Sheth