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Education Plus

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Reforms in CA training

Several changes, including a reduction in the duration of articled training and option to qualify as an accounting technician, have been introduced in the scheme of CA training.

If you want to be a top-class professional without undergoing the torments of a high-tension entrance test or the rigours of a prolonged academic programme in a college, you can contemplate a career in chartered accountancy. There have been many healthy reforms in the steps to the chartered accountant’s career. The most recent restructuring has taken effect on December 10, 2008.

Let us have a glance at the essentials of CA training. The updated curriculum and syllabus are in tune with global norms and international educational standards stipulated by the International Federation of Accountants. ( www.ifac.org). Qualified members of the profession enjoy statutory recognition. The audit or certification by a chartered accountant is a requirement for meeting the demands of different statutes. The apex body that regulates all the activities of the profession, including training of chartered accountants, is the ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Indraparastha Marg, New Delhi - 110 002; Ph: 011- 39893989; web site: www.icai.org). What are the steps for plunging into the fascinating world of accounts, as CA? What should be your attributes?

Training

There are three stages in training—CPT, IPCC and Final.

•Common Proficiency Test (CPT)

This is an entry-level examination for admission to the chartered accountancy training programme. Those who have passed Class X can register for CPT. There is no minimum mark requirement. You can appear for the test after completing 60 days from the date of registration and appearing in the 10+2 examination. CPT comprises four simple papers of two hours’ each—fundamentals of Accounting (60 marks); mercantile laws (40 marks); general economics (50 marks) and quantitative aptitude (50 marks)—with objective questions. There is negative marking.

The test is held twice a year, in June and December.

•Integrated Professional Competence Course (IPCC)

It covers the essential working knowledge of core and allied subjects in the accountancy profession. A candidate who has passed CPT and the 10+2 examination may join the IPCC, which consists of two groups. After enrolment, one has to complete nine months of the prescribed study course; the prescribed 35-hour orientation programme; and 100 hours of information technology training before appearing in the examination.

The important elements of the orientation programme are personality development; communication skills; office procedures; business environment; and general commercial knowledge relating to capital markets, banking, and public finance.

There are seven papers in the examination. Four papers in group I—accounting; law, ethics and communication (law, business laws, company law, business ethics and business communication); cost accounting and financial management; and taxation (income tax, service tax and VAT).

Three papers in group II—advanced accounting; auditing and assurance; and information technology and strategic management

A candidate may appear either in any one group or in both the groups simultaneously

•Accounting Technician Course (ATC )

This is an innovative introduction in the scheme of CA training. A candidate who does not want to pursue the programme to the very end, by completing the final examination and other auxiliary courses and becoming an Associate, has an option to divert from the mainstream and get himself qualified as an accounting technician. The candidate may appear only in group I of IPCC, which is equivalent to the Accounting Technician Examination. The conditions of nine months of study course, orientation programme and 100 hours of IT training have to be fulfilled by the ATC candidates as well. After passing the Group I examination, the candidate can complete 12 months of work experience as per the norms of the council and secure the Accounting Technician Certificate. The candidate has the option to continue his studies and complete the full CA programme, if he desires to do so.

This is a blessing for candidates who had earlier left the CA training programme midstream for some reason or another, without securing any qualification whatsoever. There are favourable rules for transition from the old pattern of intermediate or PE II to the new IPCC format, thereby enabling them to acquire the AT Certificate.

It may be noted that a candidate who aims at becoming a chartered accountant by passing through the entire mill need not make a digression to ATC.

Articled training

One significant aspect of the revised pattern is the reduced duration of the articled training. This stands reduced from three-and-a-half years to three years. Further, you can start this three-year articled training after passing group I of IPCC. During this period of training, you would be attached to a practising chartered accountant. You enjoy opportunities for on-the-job experience for growing as a well-rounded professional. You are eligible to receive a monthly stipend during the period. There is an option to spend 9-12 months as a trainee in an approved industrial establishment, during the last year of practical training.

•Final Course

After passing groups I and II of IPCC, you can enter the final course. You should be continuing the articled training. In-depth study of subjects is made during the final course and the complementary training exposes you to complex professional situations that would challenge your competence. The curriculum focuses on areas such as financial reporting; strategic financial management; advanced management accounting; and so on.You have the liberty to appear in the final examination while serving the last six months of the articled training. Apart from passing the final examination, you have to undergo a course in general management and communication skills before you get membership.

An enthusiastic youngster with dedication and perseverance can complete the entire programme in a total period of four to five years after his 10+2, become an Associate Member, obtain a Certificate of Practice and enjoy all the prerogatives of a chartered accountant. There is hardly any warming up time before entering the field of professional practice. An Associate can become a Fellow after the completion of five years of continuous practice.

B.S. WARRIER

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