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c Hitting the Merit list of CA Final, November 2015


James John Britto
1st Rank Holder (CA Final- 2015)

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Audio conversation :

CA Final exam results have released and we are once again glad to bring to you the success stories of toppers to guide and motivate other students.

Meet James John Britto All India Rank 1 CA Final 2015, a 23 year old simple guy who hails from Chennai. James is a very positive and hopeful person who credits his success to his parents, teachers, God and friends. He is a very hardworking and balanced person who loves to play chess and watch movies. James is a proud member of CAclubindia since 2011.

Let us find out what his strategy was & how he has achieved this success:

Hello James, first of all many congratulations to you from the whole team of CAclubindia.com.

Thank you Sir, thank you so much.

Can you describe your feelings at this point of time?

It’s very difficult to put in on words because getting a call from the President of ICAI and getting to know your result is something, little ahead of the others, doesn’t happen to everyone and doesn’t happen every-day. So, I feel extremely proud and at the same time blessed for having that too happened to me. So, it’s a very proud moment for me, my parents and my friends and colleagues at the office here. So, it feels extremely happy to achieve this feat.

When you got the call from the President and you got to know that you are All India Rank 1, what were your initial reactions?

At first I was extremely surprised that around 10:40 I got a call. I always wanted to get a rank but I wasn’t expecting it this time. So I always dreamt of getting a rank. I first thought that probably they have already called all the rankers and I may have missed it. And I thought that I am lucky enough to be at-least in the first 50 merit list. But, suddenly, I got a call and I was taken aback by surprise. My initial reaction was that- is it really happening – I would have to pinch myself to realize that it was all real and happening for sure. So, that’s how surprised I was and my parents were equally delighted. I wanted to tell my parents immediately but before I could tell them, the president directly spoke to them. So, they got to know it directly from the President.

Can you also describe the whole scenario?

Yes, he called me first and he asked me to hand over the phone to my parents. Before I could tell them, who is talking or what they are talking about, it so happened that he directly told them. They were thrilled. It was like all my efforts that I had put up in the last 4 to 5 months had paid off. I could see their feelings on their face and that moment is priceless.

Waao! So, James in this whole journey who guided and inspired you and whom would you like to thank?

I would like to thank almighty god first of all. Then my parents, teachers, my friends, my colleagues at office and my partners in the audit firm I am working in, they had been very instrumental and supportive all through my articleship and to my CA career. So, all of them have contributed. I would like to specially thank my father who is also a Chartered Accountant and to Mr. M.T. Vijay Kumar, my FR faculty who has always kindled that fire in us. Everyone who attends his class, he motivates them to get a rank. I feel deeply grateful and obliged to him and I would like to thank my other faculty members from various academic classes who always found something special in me and they patted on my back and told that you can get a rank, you should rein for a rank. And also my friends, who had been a part of my journey right from my CPT days till this day. Who always said that you deserve to get a rank and always believed in me. So, all these kind words and blessings that I have received, I accumulated it and it got me here (Smiles).

How you would define your whole journey of becoming a Chartered Accountant?

The whole journey was not a bed of roses as anyone would agree. There were ups and downs. There were little low moments in life where I thought that I was compromising too much. For e.g.: I was completely off social networking during this last 4 to 5 months during my study leave. I was off from Whatsapp and all. I had to make a few sacrifices which I feel was necessary and that has paid off. So, there were a few compromises that had to be done and to cope up with the low moments, like I would not say – I always felt very comfortable with the course. There were places where I thought am I doing the right thing but there were people always to guide me and talk to me in doubt and say that yes, you are on the right track; you will do well. I would have quit any point of time or I would have got diverted but they were always there to support me. So, during my hard times, they were always there to guide me and to take me to my final destination.

What did you do to handle the stress & temptations and at the same time stayed focussed?

To stay focussed, I had my own room so, that helped me. My parents are very supportive. They wouldn’t disturb me during my study leave. They wouldn’t ask me to do any daily course thing or anything at all. They always wanted me to only study and they helped me in every possible way. Be it giving me very nutritious food or they wouldn’t compel me to attend any function or any social gathering. Even if I did attend any function it was when I needed a break as everyone would need one. And I have my own ways of taking breaks like listening to the music or after finishing one round of preparation, I would take a 2 day break and in those two days I would not do anything related to study. I would watch movies, go out with friends or I would do something else on my part so that I would get rejuvenated before I could get back into studies. So, some type of activities were there and to stay focussed, I was very firm that yes, it is possible to go without any social media networking, so all these 4 months, I disconnected my mobile internet, so that way I was very firm that yes, there need to be some sort of dedication to be put in, I will have to be as submitted as possible to realize my goal. So, god’s grace was there, nothing would have been possible without him. So, he was always there. The divine factor helped me a lot and lot of prayers from all possible ends came pouring. They were praying for my success and I am very grateful to them.

Can you share your time table and schedule which you followed before and during exams?

Sure, first to talk about my time table – I got 4 months of study leave so that was the most crucial time for me. Before that I could do very minimal preparation. Like here and there, whenever, I could get time. At our office we often work for little more than 9 hours or 10 hours. So, during my office days before my study leave started on July, we had year-end going on before that, we do a lot of listed companies work so we were quite stretched out at that time. My study leave was the actual time where I could have put in a lot of effort. So, what I had done was – taken an excel sheet and had plotted down like all the subjects, chapters and went through how to target. I wanted to finish my reasonable level of preparation within the first period (August 20th that was). So, I have sorted down all these subjects, the order in which I would be going and how will I complement. I complemented like – I was comfortable at doing one subject at a stretch whereas many others feel doing one subject in the morning and the other in the evening. So, I was a little bit comfortable in studying one subject at a stretch. Primary reason for that is after 4 or 5 days I was able to revise myself by taking past exam papers where I would solve it and I would see that wherever I have read, have I really understood it. So that evaluation could be possible only as I was doing one subject at a stretch. At the 5th or 6th day, I would take the past paper and solve it and see; ok this is where I am going wrong, or if I know the concepts, I haven’t been able to put them on paper or I have been able to put it but that is not in a very presentable manner because we might know the answer but to make the examiner know that you had really solved it or convince the examiner you have to present it well, so those were my check points. So I was able to solve a couple of papers in that way. So, I was constantly able to study and evaluate so that happened for the first 15 days. Then, I targeted for 2 rounds of revision though I would not completely finish with the core of my revision, here and there I have to make a little compromises, in subjects where I could find it easy, I had reduced the amount of revision and on the subjects which I hadn’t gone through during the class. I did extra preparation for the topics/subjects where I was not very comfortable. So, that is how, I had done the revision part. I also had completed institutes mock test also and that helped me a lot in preparations. Also Institutes publications as well as articles posted in CAclubindia helped me a lot. There are lot of formulas, updates and case-laws papers that are posted over there. So, those updates and articles on amendments were really helpful for last minute revision. The day before the exams, I had hand written notes and wherever articles, caselaws, Notes on important sections were available online, I had downloaded and read all that content. So, the day before the exams, all we get to do is to brush up what we have learnt, we cannot learn something that is completely new. So, I stuck to the basics, hand written notes and online reliable content, which I wanted to revise before the exams. And these concise notes and ready reckoners which were available online and which were part of the hand written notes, I had used to brush up before the exams.

Wonderful! We are very glad to know that you have got small help from CAclubindia in your journey.

Very true! I don’t know whether you have given credit for it but you have been doing a noble service to the community. Be it the articles and updates or be it the Q & A where the experts answer your queries or the forum where you can discuss anything with other members.

When members like you say this it feels really amazing and we are very happy that we could be of some help to our members. This is our true reward. That makes us believe that whatever we are trying to do is actually touching lives.

Very true! Like there are lot of students out there who totally rely on you. Be it professional work or be it academics both ways when there is a doubt, you will be the first to be in Google. Anything related to CA – if you ask some question on IT or Auditing, I think CAclubindia will already have an answer and question to it, we could follow and get to know.

Thank for the kind words. Whatever we have, we have because of members like you who contribute to our website and share their knowledge with each other. So, we will keep trying and improving every-day.

So, James can you share few tips as to how to strategize how to attempt both theoretical and practical papers to guide other the students?

Ok, for both theory and practical subjects I would divide it as - subjects for which you have attended the classes and the subjects for which you have not attended the classes. That would be easier for someone to co-relate. Wherever, you have attended classes, you would have got more and more inputs from your faculty and peers. They would have guided you to do it or do that. Whereas, in subjects you have not attended the classes out of time or out of convenience there we lack this guidance. So, we will have to put little extra effort for such subjects as we have to read the whole thing to understand and then probably decide what’s relevant and what’s not relevant and what I should skip and what I shouldn’t skip – this is the most critical aspect- so that differentiation was there. Say, for e.g. subjects like ISCA – most of the students would go for self-study. The most critical thing is to remember all that because there are a lot of jargons and computer science or computer application is not something you hear out regularly. So, in such papers, we have to be a more cautious, we have to understand the basic concepts, probably simplify it as much as possible and that’s where your hand-written notes proves to be very helpful. There’s nothing to beat handwritten notes. That’s the best thing which helps you in understanding the concept. So, that helped me a lot. Now coming to theory and practical, students will have to see where they are more comfortable. In certain practical papers like Accounting, students are more comfortable whereas in costing, they may not be as comfortable as that. So, within the group, they have to identify their scoring subject and their weak subjects. Say, someone feels that Taxation – DT & IDT is scoring subject; they target for 70+ or 60+ over there and they will have to balance it out if they are not so strong in Costing. For them, it might seem a nightmare, but they will have to opt for 40 or 40+ so that they can save themselves from the next attempt. So, that would be the ideal way. So, there is no one in one formula that can be set towards success. Each one has his own capabilities and each one has his own likings. So, what I would say is every student will like some subject – out of the 8 subjects, they might like 4 subjects and may not like the other 4. They have to strategize on those 4 subjects and try to balance out with the course they find it difficult. So, that would be the best way out.

How important is the Articleship in a CAs career and what things one should follow during the Articleship period?

Articleship is a very crucial thing for a CA student because that’s when you learn the practical. What you had written on paper is being put in play. There are lot of subjects which have explicit applications in articleship – like Auditing, Law, Financial reporting and to a certain extent, Taxation if you are in a tax-oriented firm. SFM & Costing – they are fundamental, they are all over – you might do a certification on valuation of company where your SFM concepts will be useful or if you are in a manufacturing company, you may get an opportunity where you might be using Cost there, inventory valuation etc. So, all subjects are relevant with the articleship training and the more you are able to apply the concept in articleship or more you are involved in articleship helps in understanding the concepts, they go hand in hand – there the thorough understanding is required. So, that way, articleship is very critical. I would get the opportunity to work in a reputed firm where I got more exposure, lot of things which I had read only in books was actually put to use in practice and likewise there are certain concepts which I was reading for the first time when I was doing final, but I found it lot more relatable because I had done it in articleship – the consolidation of the companies we do here in practice and we have read that in IFRS as well. So, that way we were able to do whatever the method of Accounting or the entries that have been passed, what’s taught in classroom and how it is done here – we were able to co-relate. That understanding was taken to an all new level. It becomes very simple where you can always formulate with one of the clients that this particular thing was done there. That correlation was always possible. So, articleship is a very important thing for a CA and more than exams the fundamental thing for a fruitful career- that’s all I would say. One might still be able to get amazing marks by not doing articleship. But later on for career, articleship is very important and I think it would help us all in a very great manner.

Are you satisfied whatever the institute is contributing and are you satisfied with the whole study curriculum?

First of all, I think the institute is doing more and more everyday. They are bringing in new initiatives so hats off to them. Like 5 years back, I don’t think we had these podcast facilities or these slideshow facilities. Now everything is online – they have now knowledge portal, they have board of studies now, even e-learning classes are available, and so institute is contributing. It is getting updated with new age because there are many people who have no facility of attending the classes, they might have work pressure or they might be on the travel always. So, for them, this broadcast is like a blessing. They can download them and listen when they are travelling and there are a lot of slide shares being put there so understanding concepts are a lot easier here. So, that’s a really great initiative, even the practice manuals and other books have been made very student friendly. Like the new initiatives of splitting the books in the number of volumes, you don’t feel it’s a really bulky one – say, IDT have been split into many books each covering one-one act – that’s a very good thing because to take that book in hand, you won’t feel that you had been burdened with something huge. You can of course take it as a small book read and understand. So, one of new things are happening which is very heart warming and welcome moves.

What’s next? After getting rank in the finals, you definitely have many options?

As of now, I am evaluating my options. Lots of opportunities are open so I am consulting with my seniors and my faculty members and other friends in the industry to get the best out of what was available. So, I am looking forward to working as a professional in industry, haven't yet decided which sector I would go to, will appraise all the opportunities that are available.
At this moment, I would not like to go for further studies. I would probably like to do MBA – an executive MBA, after a few years.

Apart from studies, what are your other hobbies? How do you describe James in your words?

This is a local Chennai boy who likes watching a lot of movies and who likes to play a little bit of chess, who right from school days has been a very simple person. Who likes to go around with friends, hangout and not take too much pressure for studies. I like to be focused when the moment comes and there is also a point where I like to switch back. You cannot have always fun and be successful in career as well so the best thing about James would be when the demand arises, I can adapt myself to it. That is the biggest ability that helped me a lot, to grow as a person.

What would be your message to our members?

Hard work and planning would definitely help you in getting a rank and only those who get a rank do know the value it. The opportunities that you get, the recognition that you get is eventful. The amount of offers – the various opportunities that comes to you cannot be imagined. It’s like unimaginable in volume and size. So, all of us should work for the rank and try to get one because it could take you to height.

Many thanks, James for your time. I believe, this would really help and inspire others as well to work hard and get a rank.

Thank you Sir!

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