Comparing a CA and an MBA is like comparing Mahatma Gandhi and Vijay Mallya. Though both are humans but have poles apart persona, one has a dry-as-a-bone lifestyle, while the other has a fluid lifestyle. Excuse me! I am talking about CAs and MBAs.
Anyway, let’s compare them fair and square, one by one. CAs have a compulsory three-year parasitical articleship training system, intricate code of conduct similar to A spider’s web, and have one institute – ICAI – which dates even prior to Lal Bahadur Shastri’s regime. On the other hand, MBA institutes are swarming all over the country like a chain of Haldiram’s restaurants, which can be seen in very small cities like Kutch too. And again, I am taking about MBA institutes; Haldiram’s is limited to metro cities only.
MBAs don’t have articleship as such and aren’t the members of any body or institute. Hence there is no question of any code of conduct! So we all can safely say that MBAs don’t have a uniform education system like CAs, and that their degrees are handed out without maintaining uniform standards or syllabus across India. We don’t know which one is a recognised institute, and which isn’t, do we?
Though MBAs don’t have a three-year-long articleship system, but they do have world class facilities, libraries, fitness centers, lecture theatres, and seminar rooms. They undergo a rigorous academic course which comprises general management themes including tools and techniques of managing an organisation and engaging with the world.
Despite the fact that CAs have one institute – ICAI – they don’t have uniform training standards or any training manual or guidelines for CA articles either. There is no mechanism through which the institute ensures that each article has been properly, fairly and uniformly trained by his or her employers scattered all over India – in small cities, towns and metros.
Apart from that, many CA firms specialise in different fields, such as income tax, sales tax, direct tax, and some deal with auditing and other services. The articles are at their mercy; they may or may not give the articles exposure. Students aspiring to be CAs may join big firms with big clienteles in metros and they may get better exposure compared to CAs working under sole proprietors in villages or towns. This means that the conditions, environments, and circumstances are different for different students and there are no uniform standards to train students by these practicing CAs. Correct?
Apart from that, many CA students in small towns can’t even speak in English and there would be no corporate culture in the office. It is even possible that his employer hasn’t worn a suit and tie since his marriage ten years ago. How does one then expect them to match up to an MBA who has been ‘taught’ grooming as a part of the curriculum?
While we CAs are taught to see situation "in the present state" or "say what you see", MBAs follow the "say what nobody can sees" dictum. CAs don’t account contingent incomes, but account for all possible contingent losses, while MBAs are spoon-fed to read beyond the wall or think beyond the numbers and mostly say charming things. Their saying is: “Think big. Think different.”
CAs try to mitigate uncertainties and avoid challenges, while MBAs or marketing people like challenges. You ask them how to sell ice cream in winter, and they will brainstorm and come up with the idea: "Hey, double the spices in the food!"
Marketing people like to create flashy tag lines: "Citi never sleeps", instead of accepting the truth: "Citi never lets their customers sleep". They will use the term “Mutual funds” instead of saying Vegas funds or Wager funds.
All said and done, both are successful in their own right – one remains grounded, another always flies. But both have a unique place in corporate world. Just like Mahatma Gandhi and Vijay Mallya-one had prohibited alcohol and another has welcome alcohol.
About the author:
CA Jitendra Gianchandani is practicing chartered accountant based in Dubai. He is the author of, a romantic novel highlighting the pioneer CA v/s MBA myth, is expected to release on Valentine’s Day in 2015. www.authorjitendra.com