Commercial Gain

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Circa May 2001 – Pratik Shah’s class 10 board exam mark sheet reads an aggregate of 91.7 per cent. He is super excited to get into a college that he has looked forward to attending for a while. He’s already dreaming of making new friends and having a hectic social life in junior college since he’s going to have a lot of free time after his classes. In his mind, he’s opting for commerce. His mother, Swati, however, is not agreeable. She believes that the only well-paying careers are available in the field of science. She tries every method possible to coax her son to switch his choice to science – emotional blackmail, threatening, yelling. Finally, the statement that does the trick is made by a far-off uncle, “Dear boy, you are so intelligent, and you must opt for science! Why are you wasting your brains by going for commerce?” Pratik then went to do science and opted to train as an engineer, since that statement hit him right on the head. If this was happening to a kid today, the reply would be, “Uncle, I don’t want to be rude, but you have no idea about my intelligence. I am going to put my brains to much better use if I study commerce. Do you even have an inkling what it takes to clear any of the certifi cation exams in commerce? Please stay out of my career decisions!” And then, he could have gone right ahead to tell his mother the scope that commerce has on offer today.

Though commerce is one of the three major streams of choices available to students who opt for degree college, in the past, it had received a raw deal from students and parents as compared to science. Not anymore. When a student chooses to pursue commerce, he is able to battle the world well equipped with knowledge of several areas including accountancy, business, fluctuations in market, economics, financial and industrial policies and so on. The modern world has made it possible to include a range of interdisciplinary topics like e-commerce, taxation, marketing and insurance under the purview of commerce.
Post 1991, India has been one of the fastest growing economies among the developing ones, the need for trained personnel is witnessing an upsurge like never before. To cater to this demand, institutes are trying to keep up with the times and offer specialised programmes to commerce aspirants. After graduation, students can fi nd employment in organisations that work in the above mentioned areas. Lucky for you guys, we at Youth Inc are providing you with a comprehensive list of options. Read on.

Who does not know what a chartered accountant (CA) does? He’s the guy who does your taxes! But who knew he does much more? We do know that CAs handle taxation and auditing, but they also work as finance managers, controllers and advisors. Also, the scope of their work can cover investigation and consultancy. In fact, the CA course is open to any graduate, but one can only spot commerce graduates around the institute. What’s better, the student has the flexibility – he can pursue the course along with BCom or after graduation. Companies that have been registered under the Companies Act, 1956 have to mandatorily have their accounts audited by practicing CAs. The responsibility of a CA is to make certain that the monetary dealings and transactions are done and kept according to the prescribed law. CAs are also required to manage tax matters and be well informed of costing. The preparation and analyses of the financial reports and papers of an organisation are done by its accounting department that is headed by a chartered accountant. Auditing is the term used for ascertaining the accuracy of the documents, and making sure that the accounts are drawn up on perfect accounting principles. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (www.icai.org) is the parent body for study in India.

COST ACCOUNTANCY
A cost accounting degree helps you gain an understanding on how to efficiently handle finances and make certain that the orgranisational decisions are such that they suit the available resources. The functions of a cost accountant include:

  • Collection, compilation and analysis of financial information/ reports
  • Assessing the feasibility of projects vis-à-vis funds available
  • Designing and implementing effective cost control and cost management system
  • Carrying out audit work
  • Guiding the management on risks involved and suggesting effective cost cutting measures

CHARTERED ACCOUNTANCY
A career in cost accounting has tremendous scope. One of the most important factors for a company’s well-being is cost management and accounting. Most orgranisations require efficiency in this area to improve profits. This is also an essential way of avoiding unnecessary expenses. With the global economy becoming so competitive and demanding, an organisation’s survival and success depends on this.
If you choose not to work for a company, you could set up a consultancy. The opportunity is huge; the need of the hour is to grab this opportunity by getting a professional degree in cost accounting. Th e basic skills an aspiring cost accountant should develop/ possess are

  • Good numerical ability
  • Analytical mind to interpret facts and figures
  • Logical and methodical approach in work
  • Attention to detail as any misses would mean financial loss
  • Ability to interact and express clearly

The minimum qualification to pursue cost accountancy is a pass in class 12 or graduation (preferably in commerce). The Institute of Costs and Works Accountants of India (ICWA – www.icwai.org) conducts the cost accounting course in India. You can join the Foundation Course after class 12; the eligibility for admission is that you have to be 17 years of age and passed 10+2 from a recognised board. Or you can appear straight for the Intermediate exam after BCom.

COMPANY SECRETARY
A company secretary (CS) has the responsibility of ensuring that a company complies with the relevant legal matters, administration of meetings, handling shareholder issues, advising the board of directors on company laws and procedures and maintaining company records. The company secretary’s course has a greater thrust on the legal aspect of things, ensuring that a registered company adheres to all the laws that governs its operating. The primary responsibility of the CS is to be an essential link between the company and all its stakeholders like the Board of Directors and shareholders. The CS also has to liaise with the government and regulatory authorities. S/he has to make sure that the procedures mentioned in the books of the company are followed and are updated and reviewed at regular intervals. The CS provides guidance to the chairman and the directors on their responsibilities under various laws.
Here again, you can join the Foundation Course while pursuing graduation. It would be ideal if you pursue a BCom. After passing the Foundation exam, you could proceed with the Intermediate Course and then to the Final exam as well as related examinations and practical training. Career prospects of a CS are good if one has performed well in the examinations. To add value to the qualification and enhance career prospects, you could also pursue the three-year LLB or the Post Membership Qualifi cation Courses offered by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (www.icsi.edu) for its members.

CAPITAL MARKET STUDIES
The liberalisation of the Indian economy has opened up opportunities in the capital markets for domestic and foreign investors. Owing to the huge influx of capital in the sector and its steady growth, there are many employment opportunities in this sector. In addition, the arrival of private players and many financial institutions into the capital markets has further widened the scope. Capital markets consist of stock exchanges and mutual funds. The mutual fund industry is playing an active role in the capital markets today, and is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. This profession is apt for professionals with a background of commerce and economics. However, anyone from any stream of study can enter this field. Those interested can opt for the National Stock Exchange’s Certification in Financial Markets (NCFM). The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has many other certifications available and is the only one of its kind today in the country. Log on to www.nseindia. com for more details.
In addition, the Bombay Stock Exchange Training Institute (BTI) has a list of courses available to interested students. These include full-time and part-time basic and advanced programmes on an extensive variety of topics including, but not limited to derivatives, wealth management, financial modelling and planning, debt markets and investment products. Log on to www. bseindia.com/training for further details.
Graduates having any of these certifications can find work in the financial markets at any level, even as business development and relationship managers. Many go on to become advisors for the marketing of mutual fund schemes.  Those who have succesfully compeleted the NCFM certifi cation can work with stock brokers initially and then go on to work independently.

BANKING AND INSURANCE
This may be the world’s oldest profession and covers not only the traditional high-street banks and building societies but also insurance companies. Corporate and investment banking is about acting as advisors to organisations on financial strategies and other aspects like mergers and acquisitions. Those interested can find employment in areas such as analysis, customer service and liaison. Entry at the graduate level has many opportunities for qualified personnel. The Banking and Insurance (BBI) specialisation was introduced by many universities in the country as a specialisation at the undergrad level itself. Further, many postgraduate diploma programmes are offered by institutes across India. These are not exclusive to those who opted for banking and insurance at the undergrad level, they are open to any graduates. As for the scope in the field, the sector is constantly expanding with Indians becoming more and more aware of future savings. Mergers and takeovers are bringing an international level of dealing. Those specialised in the field can also opt for actuarial studies, customer services, broking and underwriting. Nationalised banks hire those with a commerce background on the basis of All India Level examination. Several institutes offer courses for banking and insurance.

MANAGEMENT
It is the mother of all courses. Anyone who has studied anything needs a degree in management. Rightly so, there is management involved in each sphere of professional life. Heck, there is management involved in personal life as well! So take it away, there is a great scope for commerce graduates to go into a management programme, whether it is an MBA, financial management, retail management, risk management or any other field! Other options include MBA in e-Business, entrepreneurship, general management, global management, hospitality and tourism human resources, you name it. Phew!
Several modules in management are based on what students have already learnt at the BCom level, such as accounting, marketing, business studies, advertising (for those who opt for advertising) and economics. It makes things much easier for commerce graduates. So if you are interested in taking the direct route to management, take the right entrance exam like the CAT or the CET, crack it and you’ll be on your way to a great career!

MCOM/TEACHING
For many years, the obvious next step after BCom was to opt for MCom, since not many other options were available. Today, even though many students still go for an MCom to get a 16th year of education to apply to universities abroad, many still plan to pursue the course to become lecturers. For a job as a lecturer, one has to qualify in the State Eligibility Test (SET) or the National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Once you are done with your MCom (specialisations available are in accountancy and management), you could write the NET/SET exams to become a lecturer. The eligibility criteria are that the candidate must finish the master’s degree from a recognised university with 55 per cent aggregate; and the candidate must appear with the postgraduation subjects only.

Volume 1 Issue 3

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