Chartered accountants look beyond financial sector for jobs



A total 222 companies offered 1,806 jobs to fresh CAs this year, compared with 156 firms recruiting 398 fresh CAs in the last placement season.



The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) wants to place more graduates in fast-growing sectors such as small and medium enterprises (SME), retail, telecom and infrastructure. "As of now, the financial sector remains the biggest sector, with nearly 600 fresh CAs (chartered accountants) being hired by banks alone," said K. Raghu, chairman of Icai's committee for members in industry. "But we are seriously looking to the SMEs to tap a largely untapped segment." Icai plans a special programme to place CAs in SMEs, he said.


"We are expecting around 250 CAs to participate in the exclusively structured campus placement programme for SMEs to be organized during May. We expect to place about 200 candidates." SMEs account for 45% of India's industrial output and 40% of exports, according to industry lobby Small and Medium Business Development Chamber of India. They employ 60 million people, create 1.3 million jobs every year and produce more than 8,000 products for the Indian and international markets. The sector contributed 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, which is expected to increase to 22% by 2012. There are 26.1 million SME units in India and 12 million people are expected to join the SME workforce in the next three years. ICAI president G. Ramaswamy said demand for Indian CAs has grown both nationally and internationally. A total 222 companies offered 1,806 jobs to fresh CAs this year, compared with 156 firms recruiting 398 fresh CAs in the last placement season.


"CAs get good grounding during their articleship and are good at managing business environment. The compensation should reflect the talent they possess. The highest package of '68 lakh per annum, offered to four candidates for international posting, shows the importance of CAs as a complete business solutions provider," Ramaswamy said. All chartered accountancy students are required to work as audit clerks for three years, which is known as articleship. The demand for CAs is expected to rise with a number of companies adopting accounting standards in line with the international financial reporting standards. Anil Sachdev, a human resource consultant, said CAs are more in demand compared with masters of business administrations (MBAs) for three reasons.


"Having done their articleship, they have seen life inside a company, the chartered accountancy curriculum has seen a change with additional modules on business understanding, and they are into process driven technology, which is required by sectors such as retail as also banking," said Sachdev, founder and chief executive of the School of Inspired Leadership, an HR consultancy firm. "My personal experience says CAs are more stable than MBAs and, therefore, contribute less to attrition in a company." Olam International Ltd, an export house on agricultural commodities based in Singapore, paid the highest salary of '68 lakh a year in the history of Icai over the last 33 placement seasons. Among domestic firms, ITC Ltd offered the highest pay packet of nearly Rs. 14 lakh a year.


ICICI Bank Ltd offered 309 jobs to fresh CAs while Canara Bank hired 55 CAs and Axis Bank Ltd gave offer to 50 others. In total, 589 jobs came from banks, and 100 from nonbanking financial companies. Icai also wants to place more students in retail, infrastructure and telecom sectors. Since September, telcos Idea Cellular Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd have hired at least 23 fresh CAs, said Raghu. Icai plans to tap the Persian Gulf market as well. Its committee for members in industry organized interviews for fresh graduates with Gulf-based companies through video conferencing; two students were placed as a result.