The Number Game



It may sound as one of the world’s oldest professions. Ever since taxes were invented, chartered accountants (CAs) have helped the public save smartly. In today’s rapidly growing economy, with pay scales going higher every year, this career has gained tremendous popularity. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is both an examining and a licensing body for this profession. It is the responsibility of the institute to conduct the CA course. The course involves a blend of theoretical education and practical training which run concurrently for a period of three years and equips a student with knowledge, ability, skills and other qualities required of a professional accountant.
Everyone knows who a CA is (and yes, also quick to point out – chartered accountant) and knows that he specialises in accounting, but not many know exactly what it is that a CA does. He doesn’t only specialise in accounting, but is also responsible for auditing and taxation.
The CA programme is divided into three sections, Competency Professional Test (CPT), Professional Competency Examination (PCE) and Final Examination. The registration for CPT and PCE is open throughout the year. However, as the examinations are held twice a year in May and November, it is necessary that a student must register at least ten months before the examinations. After passing the PCE, candidates are eligible for registration as articled clerks/ audit clerks for practical training. A Computer Training Programme, ie 100 hours of information technology (IT) is compulsory for the candidates who wish to register themselves as auditor clerks. Students can undergo this programme while pursuing CPT
or PCE.
Students who have passed the class 10 exam can register for the CPT, but they can write the examination only after passing their class 12 or equivalent exam, or while waiting for the results. There are no restrictions with regard to the age of the candidate or marks secured.
Graduates with 50 per cent or more are exempted from the CPT and are permitted to register for Professional Competency Course (PCC). This requirement differs for graduates from different streams.
“The services of a CA are required for financial matters in any kind of organisation – be it a large company, a partnership or even a small orgranisation. In fact, even individuals like you and me need a CA to do their taxes. So unless the government stops taxing the citizens and businesses, this profession is here to stay!” says Ketan Ashar, who is a Manager with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, India. Moreover, he adds, all the companies registered under the Companies Act are required to get their accounts audited only by practicing CAs. “The responsibility of a CA is to ensure
that the financial transactions of
an organisation are maintained according to the law, they also keep track of cost of management of the company and manage tax matters,” he elaborates. The accounting department prepares, analyses financial reports and documents of an organisation. Auditing involves checking the accuracy of the financial statements, ensuring that the accounts presented are drawn up on correct accounting principles.
There are several options available for those who have cleared their CA final exams:
Companies – “Many multinational companies have come forward in this field. In fact most listed companies need a financial division headed and run by chartered accountants,” informs Ashar. All chartered accountancy companies come under the Chartered Accountancy Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) which is established to regulate, promote, and ensure orderly growth of the
chartered accountancy industry in India.
CA firms – These are very popular in the field and each year offer articleships (CA internships) to those students who have cleared the CPT and are going to take up the further exams. “These articleships are basically for receiving on-the-job training to become a CA in future,” says CA Aditi Shah. Thus when the student takes exams, he or she is well equipped with practical knowledge as well. “In most CA firms, article clerks stay on as full time employees once they clear their final exams,” she is quick to mention.
Own practice – Many CAs (especially those who have extensive experience), branch out and open up their own practice, where they may specialise in any field – taxation or auditing. “It takes time to pay as well as a job would pay, but if you start at the right time, the prospects are great,” says Teena Jain, who started her own firm with her husband Suparas about four years ago. He handles the taxation part and she the audit part.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is well recognised by the Institute of England, Wales, Canada and Australia. The members of ICAI can practice in these countries. Of course, visa regulations apply.
“Playing with numbers, interest in finance and accounting, logical reasoning, willingness to take decisions, analytical mind, and good judgmental qualities are true attributes of a CA,” says Shah. Corroborates Teena, “A CA should possess a sound numerical ability, an analytical mind, a logical and methodical approach to interpret facts and figures correctly.”
“Apart from having good business acumen and numerical intelligence a CA should have good communication skills, and should be able to work under the pressure of deadlines,” says Suparas Jain. Moreover, during what they call the tax season (the time when the deadline for filing taxes in fast approaching), almost all CAs work about 16-18 hours a day.
One of the major issues of an audit accountant is that the audit sites are spread across the city (and sometimes country) and so you don’t work in one place. The commute could be quite taxing, according to Shah.
Ashar adds an important factor, “A CAis the custodian of financial statements, and thus has to maintain a great deal of confidentiality.”

Chartered Accountancy is a well-paid profession, be it government service, private firms or own consultancy. Most multi-national firms provide numerous perks besides the salary such as medical benefits, house rent allowance and so on.
In fact at the start itself, the stipend that an article clerk earns ranges from `8,000 to `20,000 depending on the orgranisation and work. This, while you are still studying. A recent advertisement from the Tata’s for hiring a young CA showed the annual pay packet at over `6 lakh. So, there is a whole range, depending on several factors, but it definitely is not a low paying job. For starting your career, log on to

Chartered Accountants work as:
Finance Managers
Financial Controllers
Financial Advisors or Directors (Finance)

Their main areas of work include:
Cost accountancy

They are also engaged in activities like:
Markets research
Budget planning
Working capital management
Inventory control
Policy planning
Securities consultancy


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