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  Date : 03-12-2015  Platform/Online Media: The Times of India-Career Source

If you are a young CA, here’s what you can do

The young CA can learn from the Big Four, join an SME, a shared CFO services firm or turn into an entrepreneur
S Venkat

We are well aware of the notion that qualifying as a chartered accountant (CA) is very tough. The passing percentage is abysmally low, making candidates drop out at an early stage. How often do we even evaluate the career options available for CAs? Like any other qualification, chartered accountancy has several branched out prospects. One needs to consider some factors to evaluate it further.

Location, for instance, is a major factor. Bigger cities with adequate commercial activities offer much greater scope and employment sustainability. For a CA who is from a small town, this is crucial. It all depends on whether he wants or doesn’t want to relocate as location plays a major role in determining what direction your career will take.

For a CA aspiring to work with a large Indian firm, bigger cities have lots to offer. Experience of working in the Big Four (PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG), which have offices in all metros in India, is an advantage. Specialisation into areas like audit, direct tax, indirect tax, M&A, corporate finance etc also provide young CAs to join the practice area which is of their interest. The ability to work in a variety of industries and obtain cross domain exposure is a major attraction of the Big Four for young CAs. Needless to say, the ability to use the Big Four names as a ‘passport’ for careers in companies of repute is the other big advantage. Life at any of the Big Four companies can be tough and competitive but is highly rewarding, especially if your goal is to eventually become a partner at one of these firms.

CAs who want to start their own practice or join smaller firms do so to obtain exposure in ‘traditional CA’ areas of representations in the Income Tax department and raising bank funding for clients. Young CAs who want to focus on small and medium enterperises want close relationships with promoters and provide benefit of tax cost reduction or finance cost reduction as the means to add value to clients should choose this route.

Young CAs who join the industry (large Indian or MNCs) usually aspire for stability, good security in work environments, above-average pay, regularity in working hours and benefits in the form of insurance, provident fund and gratuity. Most such CAs aspire to go up the corporate hierarchy, evolving from an accountant to a controller to a CFO. Working in an industry is a good option for young CAs who do not want to be in advising or consulting mode and are keen to be part of the ‘action’ in the finance & accounts department of a company

An emerging career option is a career with a shared CFO services firm that provide the best of both worlds through exposure to multiple domains in a short span of time and strong on the job training in a results-implementation mode (not advisory).

A young CA should also not ignore the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t seek a job, just create a few!

A CA with a strong commercial grounding and a good understanding of how money works is well-positioned to start his/her own enterprise. Starting a business is a financial and emotional roller-coaster. Don’t climb on it unless you are prepared to enjoy the ride.

A young CA needs to keep in mind that he/she needs to keep the ‘axe sharpened’ at all times. Periodic value addition in the form of continuous professional education interventions and even additional specialist courses like CFA, CIMA and CISA offer a brilliant upgrade for CAs who wish to change sectors or need an international view.

Opening up of non-traditional areas other than the typical chartered accountancy has created a realm of opportunities for CAs at both domestic and international levels. For a CA who does not want a traditional job, the sky is the limit. There is no restriction to adapting to fields like sales, marketing or operations. Versatility will only make CAs adaptable and ready for future challenges.