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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life beyond CAT

Article Collected by - Education is My Passion

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Author : Suchita Sharma

There is life beyond CAT. Alternate courses in finance and taxation like Chartered Accountancy, Company Secretary and ICWA are equally prestigious and respectable

  When you are struggling with a career decision for yourself and have just been disappointed with not having your name listed in the CAT winner list, what you do? Did you have a plan B in place that you can put into action? Or do you think that you've missed on some other opportunities which you were for some reason just pushing into the backseat because you wanted the easy way out-the quick step to the top? 

   Frankly, if you were to ask yourself some hard questions, you would be sitting back and asking yourself-can I deal with numbers, do I understand them and do I have the abilities to pursue a career in finance? What is the remuneration package I am actually aiming for? What is the kind of work life balance I am looking for? What is the work culture I would like in the profession I take up? Have I truly analyzed the occupational hazards of my career options and am I willing to live with them? Am I looking at my career as an end or as a means to achieve my personal goals? And when you ask yourself these questions, many more doors will open up. If I am inclined to be a Finance person, not qualifying an MBA exam is not the end of the road for me. There an equally good career available in Chartered Accountancy, i.e., in becoming a CA. 

   Any profession that we choose with have its arguments for why it is the most appropriate one and it will also have many counter arguments. The top argument for doing an MBA is that you are in a role where you see the big picture without having to get into micro level detail of transactions and how the actual numbers are generated. You feel you are able to influence an organization because you can decide what to do when to do and how to do there. Another thing that may lure you into doing an MBA is that the ladder up to the CEO seems to be more available than if you are a CA in which case you may reach a CFO level but not beyond that. Also that although you may get paid well as a CA, your starting salaries don't make it to the headlines as do those of an IIM graduate. But then I can also think of counter arguments, maybe at least 6-7 of them offhand. 

   So why not look at other options. Undoubtedly, the most sought after professional degree in the Commerce stream is Chartered Accountancy. Chartered Accountants usually occupy high and respectable posts in any organization. A Chartered Accountant also holds prestige in the society and earns handsomely. The role of a CA is moving away from the traditional activities of audit and tax management to becoming consultants and advisors in the true sense. After acquiring the membership one can either choose to do public practice or join any organization at the public sector or private sector. Several career options open up. Chartered Accountants are required to assess the risks of the companies and can help them in designing control system to counter those risks. They could provide new assurance and performance measurement services. They can support change management at the ownership, structural and operational levels. They can be the critical advisors for stakeholder value creation and strategic management. They can provide support in financial administration, financial regulation and matters related to insolvency and corporate recovery. They can become management consultants, mercantile bankers and privet equity investment advisors. 

   The course as structured by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is a good blend of theoretical education and practical training. Syllabus is revised and updated to keep pace with the fast changing needs of the local and global economic environments. The CA programme has three sections, Competency Professional Test (CPT), Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC) and the Final examination. Examinations are held twice a year in May and November and it is necessary that a student must register at least ten months before the examinations. After passing the Group I of the IPCC examination, candidates are eligible for registration as articled clerks/audit clerks for practical training. Computer Training Programme, ie 100 hours Information Technology training is also compulsory for the candidates who wish to register themselves as articled clerk. For training as an articled clerk, the incumbent is attached to a practicing chartered accountant for the duration three years. During this period the articled clerk will also continue to study for the remaining exams, that is, complete both groups of IPCC and the Final exams. During the training period, the articled clerk is required to work at different client locations under the supervision of the chartered accountant to whom he/she is attached and learns the practice elements of auditing, taxation and accountancy. This training enables them to learn the technical details of the job as well as to get an idea of the working environment of the profession. 

   Having qualified the exams and completed the three year training, the CA is now ready to step into the professional field full force. There is no dearth of jobs for Chartered Accountants. Not only can you start your own practice or join a practicing firm of chartered accountants, several CAs are absorbed by the industry. CAs are needed in all businesses, big or small, whether in the manufacturing sector or service sector. Of late BPOS, KPOs and IT companies have been absorbing CAs twenty to a dozen. Out of a total number of 1.4 to 1.5 lakh CA professionals, over 10,000 are settled abroad. Of the rest, 70-80% are employed in industries, and the rest were practitioners. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India believes that there is a growing requirement of CA professionals in the country and it has a tough time keeping pace with the demand. The real point is therefore not whether or not you should do an MBA or a CA, but that you better know why you should do so. As in every profession, the most important thing is what you do with the degree you acquire. 

   The writer is a Delhi based Chartered Accountant. Expressed herein  are her pesonal views.
Source : Times of India

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