Gone are the days when a chartered accountant in profession use to provide service to the clients with authority and client was supposed to reveal everything during the process of audits or other consultancy services being availed by such clients? This was possible because of the low volume of the business transactions, simple accounting standards to follow, few laws to adopt with minimum periodic changes, less dependence on automation and small business houses.
With the change in the work culture and the demand of profession it is high time to recognize the need for specialization leaving behind the traditional methods of practicing one of the most respected professions i.e. Accountancy. Chartered Accountancy was once considered to be a specialized qualification and a Chartered Accountant an expert in the field of accounting and taxation. The time has changed because of the fact that there are frequent changes being made in the legislation not only in taxation laws or companies act but also in the processes to be adopted in recording transactions. We need to respond positively for the sustenance of our profession otherwise a day will come when only those professional firms who change with the time will survive.
Keeping in view the onset of Double Taxation Code (DTC), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Extensive Business Reporting Language (XBRL), Goods and Services Tax (GST), Revised Companies Act and above all increased dependence on changing technologies it seems very difficult to sustain the pressures which we may feel in the next year or two. It is an admitted fact that a chartered accountant who is already over loaded with the various monthly, quarterly and yearly e-returns will not be expected to be expert in all the above fields of profession. It may not be out of place that a chartered accountant is already exposed to various kinds of risks which may include holding of adequate information at the client’s end, lack of knowledge of technology being used by the clients to capture financial transactions including reports generation, lack of knowledge about current changes in the legislation and the impact of recent court judgments.
This is high time for all of us to think about pooling of knowledge which can come by togetherness and unity. Pooling of knowledge will relieve us from the mental stress of acquiring expertise of all the branches of audit, accounts and legal requirements. We may have fair knowledge of all the subjects for routine working but finalization of accounts, expressing opinion on a particular query, advising on or pleading a particular case and or practicing management consulting skills will definitely require in depth knowledge of the subject concerned.
We need to solve the above problems with utmost honesty and seriousness before the situation goes out of hands. It has been observed that newly qualified chartered accountants prefer job rather than settling into practice. The fact is that business houses need qualified accountants to match their latest technologies they use for capturing business data. Capturing of business data in the right manner at the initial stage i.e. entry level saves lot of time in creating MIS reports based on which the management takes its decisions. Qualified accountants are the best bet for the management to involve them from the very initial stage of data capturing process rather than to have defective MIS reports to support the crucial process of decision making. Publishing of quarterly results and filing of monthly returns under various acts are some of the compulsions of present day business houses to use modern accounting packages to ensure generation of timely reports. Operation of this software has generated demand for young and newly qualified professionals resulting in better earnings of a new qualified accountant from the job rather than from the profession. Due to the tiny size of professional firms in our country the capacity to retain qualified accountants by such firms is virtually zero. Inability to employ qualified accountants will have its adverse impact on such firms due to the lack of adequate knowledge required to practice the ethics and tools required for the execution of an assignment with efficiency and effectiveness.
Now the question is which are the steps to be taken to overcome the problems discussed above to counter their adverse impact on the basic concept of being a chartered accountant. The main focus on the existence of our profession was on practice and not on the full time job. But with the passage of time job became more lucrative than the practice thus accountants started opting for job and shunning away from the practice. The main reason being quoted for the diversion from profession to jobs is lower levels of professional fees being offered by clients. We in profession need to understand that our clients are matured enough to understand our input costs and the level of efficiency with which we provide service to them. The same clients willingly pay higher professional fees to the big firms because of their expertise, quality of staff, presentation and efficiency they are able to demonstrate. Thus our clients understand the value of our services and the input cost to complete their assignment. It is not only with our profession but with every profession. Even if we engage a professional be it lawyer, doctor, engineer or architect, we try to compensate them keeping in view their expertise, effectiveness, efficiency, input cost, goodwill etc. Here we need to understand that client is the best judge to translate our services into monetary value.
What we need to focus now is on to join hands and initiates the process of forming partnership firms with at least four working partners. This will increase our capacity in terms of market reach, efficiency in terms of knowledge, effective and timely delivery of services, good decision making, better time management and control over quality. Subject specialization will become realty translating into delivery of quality service. All this will make our firms economically viable and financially sound thus retention of qualified and efficient staff will be easy.
There may be circumstances where joining of hands as partners may not be possible the alternative arrangement can be forming joint groups, create common libraries to meet once a week to discuss new problems which we may have encountered during the period. Contributing towards a joint library will help us to own a library rich in value added books which individually may not be possible to own. Further it will help us in creating reader friendly environment. This type of module will be felt excellent in small places where commuting is less troublesome. This way we can upgrade our levels of knowledge in more effective and efficient manner. Discussions and deliberations help in the best and the easiest way to upgrade and understanding with utmost clarity the most critical problem.
In short time has come to move towards specialization without any further delay and be updated by the end of current fiscal year and to welcome the expected changes in direct and indirect taxation along with changes in accounting standards and corporate law with full determination and use such major changes as stepping stone to achieve excellence in profession resulting in growth of our profession and C A community.
DILIP K RAINA
B.Com; FCA (ICAI); PGDFM; PGDCA; DBM; Cert. IFRS (ICAEW); NCFM Capital Market (Dealers Module); Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Application for Microsoft Dynamics NAV (ERP) & AXAPTA (ERP).