Let me start my article on this very very interesting topic “Making the most of Articleship” with a small anecdote: Once a medical student, an engineering student and a CA Final completed student landed in heaven before the King of Heaven and were waiting for his rewards and punishments. All three of them had done the same amount of good and bad things. Then the King of Heaven came, checked each of their records and read out his orders. Both the medical and engineering student were awarded punishment of three and a half years in hell. But the CA Student alone was taken directly into heaven. The other two were so angry with the decision and started to fight with the King of Heaven that this was an absolutely unfair decision. The King of Heaven said that CA Student had already experienced hell by the way of articleship and that was the reason why he was directly admitted into heaven. Yes my friends, these are the stories we come to hear during the time of our articleship. But once we get to see the outside world in the way of campus placements or searching for employment in various audit firms in India or abroad, we come to understand the real value and immense advantage we gain from this articleship training.
Some of you may think why I say like this. Some may think I am saying this just for saying this from the stage. But it is not so my friends. Just think of the average first salary an articled assistant gets on successful completion of CA and the average first salary given to an MBA. The qualified CA at a young age of 22 gets much higher salary as compared to an MBA graduate. It talks everything about this articleship.
Now I think it will be apt to discuss the benefits we derive out of this articleship training. Only if we are very sure it is beneficial, we can proceed on to discuss how to make the best out of it.
Out of the innumerable benefits of this articleship programme, I would say we derive mainly 3 benefits. These three benefits which you cannot get anywhere other than out of the 3 or 3.5 years of articleship:
GOOD COMMUNICATION AND POWER TO TACKLE PEOPLE – So long as you are a B.Com graduate you communicate with your friends and rarely to your professors. There is not much of a difference between these two as even college professors get down to the level of a student and develop relationships with students. But that is not the situation in our case. We communicate with accountants of various companies – some of them MBA’s or even qualified CAs, some are only from the High School level. We interact with them according to their level of knowledge and get things done. Apart from this, some of us also get the opportunity to talk to Senior Government Officials. Suppose you may be visiting the Central Excise department for filing the Half-yearly Service Tax return. Suddenly the superintendent may call you inside his room and he himself checks the return. He asks a series of questions and you answer it to the best possible in a very convincing way. There, in that situation he does not see you merely as a student but as a representative of a professional. So we are all treated almost as professionals. So we come to know the way to represent information and to communicate with higher level officers. This is something you will not get without practical experience.
ABILITY TO TAKE UP RESPONSIBILITY AND PLAN THINGS PROPERLY – As an Articled Assistant, first we join as a junior assistant having a leader for our team. We manage with our team, each one of different age group and get to know all the work. Then we become a senior assistant and we are given the responsibility for the entire audit. We have to plan the work properly, get the plan approved by our auditor and get the things done with the help of our team. Such practical experience of handling people and getting responsibility is something which we will never get that easily. Here we are groomed to do the job as a junior and lead a team as a senior articled assistant. Thus the leadership qualities become part of us.
VIRTUAL INSIGHT ON THE TASKS AND COMPLEXITIES WE WOULD FACE AFTER COMPLETING CA – I would consider this as the most beneficial. Take the case of a law student. He graduates him as a Bachelor in Law and comes out as a Lawyer. He enrols himself in the Bar Council and now he is ready to appear before the magistrate. But he has no experience and he is forced to join as a junior to a lawyer after having completed his graduation. But that is not the case with us. We are given the training during the course of our studies itself. We also get to see the practical challenges facing a Chartered Accountant. This helps us to be ready to face any situation once we are a Chartered Accountant.
Now on agreeing that Articleship is very useful, let us now discuss about how to make the most out of this great thing the Institute has designed for us. There are SIX areas to be covered by us to make the “BEST OUT OF ARTICLESHIP”
1. LOVE THE JOB ASSIGNED BY THE SENIOR: I would first of all salute the CA Institute for making this articleship training mandatory in this study curriculum. The first and foremost thing for making the most of this articleship is to put our mind into it and work. We cannot work like it’s a heavy burden for us. Then we may not get any benefit. This is not for this articleship training alone. Even for studies, we cannot start a subject like a “Haiyo! I’ve to learn this subject” Then nothing gets into our head even though we have spent hours on it. CA.Saravana Prasath, a Chartered Accountant from Chennai explains our liking we should develop towards our activities with a very beautiful example. Suppose I want to become a friend of this guy sitting in the 1st row, I cannot develop a good relation by showing an angry face. If I extend my hand now to become a friend of his, he may think, whether he must really become my friend and he has a small inhibition in him whether he should actually accept that offer. Suppose I smile at him and then I extend my hand to him, he also reciprocates it with a smile and we both have now become friends. Similarly, even for articleship we cannot see it like it’s an enemy for us. We cannot see our Principal or our team leader/manager as our villain. We must go on with articleship and with everyone out there like friends. Then only we can reap the maximum benefits out of it.
2. READ THE JOURNALS REGULARLY: It is very true we gain great knowledge of the various statutes like Companies Act and Income Tax Act from our syllabus. But practically various issues arise in their application and these come out by the way of various journals like TAXMANN, INCOME TAX REPORTS(ITR). Here I should not fail to make a mention of our Institute’s Journal which has information from all fields related to our articleship. I am very sure every auditor subscribes to these journals and keeps himself updated of the latest changes in the interpretation of the legal provisions. These journals are not meant for auditor’s alone. Even we can get a hand to these journals and know the practical issues involved in the application of the rules and regulations.
3. APPLY THE THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE TO PRACTICAL SITUATIONS: The next aspect to be developed is the practical application of the theoretical concepts. For example while vouching, we may come across a payment of Rs.1,00,000 as commission. We all would have learnt the TDS provisions in our Tax Paper. We know it very clearly that for all payments by way of commission/brokerage exceeding Rs.2,500/-, tax has to be deducted at source. But the application of this concept while vouching is very important. For this it is very essential to have our basics of the concepts right. Application of the concepts in this way makes the audit more meaningful and it also enriches value to our CA studies.
4. ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY: Then the other aspect that we are troubled with, is regarding taking responsibility for the job. We should be voluntary enough to take the work on our shoulders and do the work. By this I do not mean, that we should take extra burden. I mean that we should take responsibility for the job assigned to us and do it in the best way we would expect someone, if the same was entrusted to someone else. The attitude that ‘What am I going to get by doing the audit properly?’ must be avoided.
5. DEVELOP GOOD RELATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL: The next issue is with regard to development of good rapport with our principal, team leader/manager and office staff. There should be good relations with everyone and this will help us to know more things during our training period. Developing good rapport helps to convince the Principal that we have done the audit in the best possible way. Once the auditor is satisfied regarding our regularity and work discipline, then getting leave for even 2 months before the exams will also not be a difficult issue.
6. UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF EACH BUSINESS: During the articleship we come across the accounts of various types of business or profession. We may be asked to see the accounts of a kirana store and also a software export company. We may be having an opportunity to audit a hotel or a construction company. We must gain from this is learning the intricacies of each business. This is one special advantage we have in this profession. We are able to get into the premises of any of our clients, inspect the processes and get to see what is behind the front showroom. This helps us know the entire process of the organisation. We can also guide the client with our knowledge the various laws affecting their trade. For example in the case of Hotel the VAT on food supplied and service tax for letting out the marriage hall in the hotel can be highlighted to them.
The next issue that students face is with regard to choosing which kind of office to join. Each one’s views may differ. But I would consider that if you have an idea of joining an audit firm itself soon after completing CA, then it is better to go in for the Big 4’s or other big audit firms because they are the ones who will accept young CA’s and give attractive salaries. If we want to set up a practise of our own, then it is better to join a small partnership or proprietorship firm. Whatever firm we join we should not complain or grumble. I shall close of my speech with a small anecdote. Once my friend here in the 1st row was walking along the road. Suddenly he heard a strange voice which said “Stand still. Don’t move”. He obeyed the order. Immediately a big stone fell in front of him from the nearby construction building. He was relieved and shouted who was there? The voice responded that it was the guarding angel. He thanked the angel. Out of this shock and stress, he went and took shade under a nearby tree. He heard the same voice again. “Move away from the tree”. Immediately he moved. A lorry passing by that side lost control and crashed against the tree. He was very thankful to the guarding angel. Now he asked the guarding angel whether he could ask her a question. The angel said ok. He asked her, “You saved me two times now. But where were you when I decided to join articles in this firm? Why dint you save me then?”
Friends, we should think like that and we should make good use of our articleship.
Wishing you all a great experience as an Articled Assistant!