Chartered Accountancy

Chartered Accountancy is offered by the ‘Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’ (ICAI). Chartered Accountancy has always been a very sought after professional qualification. The moment you say you are a qualified CA, people judge you as someone bright, diligent and knowledgeable. It is a rigorous course in the field of Accounting and Finance, which opens the doors to various career options in the financial domain. CAs are sought after by almost every business house for corporate finance, auditing, taxation, accounting, and legal counsel. Apart from this, since the course is challenging and demanding, a CA is considered to be a diligent person with an analytical bent of mind and penchant for numbers. Several banks and financial services firms look for CAs to fill their various financial analysis roles. CAs can also start their own practice soon after qualifying.

To apply for the course, the steps are as follows:
1. The first step is to clear the Common Proficiency Test (CPT). You can register for this with ICAI post your 10th Std. However, you are only eligible to write the exams once you clear your 12th Std. or HSC. 
   a. The CPT is exempt if you are already a commerce graduate with >55% marks
   b. It is also exempt for non-commerce graduates with >60% marks
2. The next step is to enroll for the Integrated Professional Competency Course (IPCC)
   a. Students need to undergo an orientation program, 100 hours of Information technology training and 8 months of studying (called foundation course)
   b. Students can then appear for Group 1 and /or Group 2 examinations of the IPCC
   c. They also need to complete General Management and Communication Skills course – Part 1
   d. Once they clear Group 1 exams, they are eligible for a 3 year articleship with a firm
3. The last step after clearing IPCC is the final CA exams
   a. The exam can be attempted when 6 months of articleship are remaining
   b. Students also need to complete Advance Information Technology Training and General Management and Communication Skills – Part II, if not completed earlier, before the final exam
This course is largely done by correspondence and self study with help from coaching institutes. One can do the foundation course and IPCC exams simultaneously while pursuing another graduate degree. However, articleships are usually very taxing and are taken up as full time jobs by students. On clearing the final CA exams and getting the CA designation, candidates are usually promoted within the firms in which they articled or take up plum offers from other firms.

Who should do a CA?

The CA course is no cakewalk. It requires rigorous studying, a very challenging articleship period of around 3-3.5 years as well as tough-to-pass exams. You should take this qualification up only if you are reasonably sure about your abilities to devote the time and efforts required for the course. Career wise, it makes sense to do this course if:
1) You are interested in pursuing a career in auditing/taxation/accounting
CAs by definition, take care of a company’s accounts, taxation, legal issues and also conduct audits. If this is something that appeals to you, you have to look no further
2) You are interested in pursuing a career in corporate finance
Corporate finance entails managing a company’s finances, funding, project finance, treasury etc. This is a challenging and engaging job and in India, these jobs almost always go to CAs 
3) You are interested in pursuing a career in the financial domain, but don’t know which one yet
You love accounting and finance but you are not very sure which field within finance you want to take up. CA is a very safe bet provided you have the grit to go through with the course
4) You want to start your own practice
If you want to start your own CA practice, needless to say, this is the course you need.
1) Discipline, Diligence and hard work: 
The syllabus is vast and sometimes crushing. There is a lot of midnight oil to be burnt and social life may come to a standstill. The exams are supposed to be tough with very low passing rates. Additionally, articleships are quite infamous for being 12-14 hour jobs with peanuts for pay. This means you have to have the patience and perseverance to survive the coursework, exams as well as articleship work. Hard work will be the usual order of the day

2) Conceptual understanding:
A lot of students try to cram up and become a CA. However, in the industry only the conceptually sound will truly make progress. For this, you have to understand the concepts instead of just mechanically mugging up methodologies

3) A head for numbers: 
Numbers will be your best friends. Accuracy and speed in general mathematics helps hugely 

Practically, no door in the financial domain is closed to a CA. Jobs that CAs typically take up are:

  • Regular CA jobs in all types of businesses
  • Corporate Finance roles in all types of firms
  • Accounting, taxation, financial analysis or auditing roles in consulting firms
  • Financial analysis in M&A or Capital Markets divisions of Investment Banks
  • Credit Rating
  • Project Finance
  • Training
  • Investment Management roles in Mutual Funds and other AMCs
  • Courts
  • Civil Services
  • All govt. PSUs
  • Self Practice

Interview with Mitesh Gandhi, who is a CA and is working with an Investment Bank.

Proschool : Why did you take up CA?
Mitesh : Introduction to Accounting in the first year of B.Com was the stepping-stone for my career advancement in the CA course. My interest in accounting and then finance made my decision very easy and the CA course was my first choice. One of the other reasons for taking up this course was to face the challenges that it promised. It is described as of the most challenging courses and I have always loved to face challenges. CA offers various career options ranging from practicing to becoming the CFO of a company. It is of course one of the most respected degrees in India and is considered a ‘Noble profession’

Proschool : How tough is it? How many hours of study are required? 
Mitesh : As a course, it is quite demanding and requires a lot of commitment and dedication from a candidate. It is very intense and throws the challenge of managing studies with work (articleship). I would say it requires 12+ hours of studies as you move closer to the exam dates

Proschool : What was your study plan?
Mitesh : My strategy remained the same across all the 3 levels. I played to my strengths and tried my best to upscale my game in the other subjects. I always had a timetable for my study plan wherein I allocated time and number of days for each subject. It was made in such a way that I had enough time for revising all the subjects. Always remember, CA course is very vast. So I factored in a good amount of time for revision as well. Going through past papers is very helpful in getting yourself familiarized with the trend and pattern in which questions are framed. So, I solved papers as soon I completed reading the relevant subjects

Proschool : Challenges you faced?
Mitesh : Managing time was the biggest challenge I faced both prior to the exams and during the exams. During the exams it becomes all the more important because at times the paper can be tough or lengthy or both. Articleship is a very interesting 3-year stint that the CA course offers. During the articleship, a lot of challenging situations came my way because firstly, that was my first ever exposure to the corporate world and secondly, a practical approach to the profession was something very interesting and different from the academic setup that I was used to

Proschool : How has it helped you?
Mitesh : My accounting and finance fundamentals are very strong thanks to a structured approach of learning these concepts through the course. I have a fair idea of all the taxation rules and policies across the country. Most importantly, it has helped me live my dream of becoming an ‘Investment Banker’