Multi-dimensional roles for CAs
Accountant, manager, technology savvy professional and possibly material for CEO in a company — the role of a charted accountant is rapidly changing in the corporate world.
A CA today is an accountant, manager, technology-savvy professional and possibly material for CEO in a company.
CHANGING TIMES: The myth that CAs are nothing but qualified book-keepers has been broken.
There is shortage of about 50,000 Chartered Accountants in the country now and this number is poised to grow significantly as the country’s economy blossoms and India CAs serve global companies.
India has about 1, 50, 000 CAs of them about 70,000 practicing and it is projected that the country would need about 4, 00,000 in next few years. While about 10,000 CAs get inducted each year, the gap is likely to widen.
What is interesting is that CAs of today are a different breed, they are not just accountants but have larger multi-dimensional roles, with multi-tasking skills, and hence in greater demand. A Chartered Accountant today is an accountant, a manager, a technology-savvy professional and possibly a material for chief executive officer in a company. This is because CEOs of today are expected to also have good understanding of financial markets and CAs fit this role too.
Just like serving global corporations in the technology sector offering outsourcing services, India emerges as an outsourcing hub for auditing, risk and business compliance services. The role of auditors and particularly chartered accountants is poised for a major change. A new breed of tech-savvy auditors are set to make inroads to serve India and clients overseas and practicing members are upgrading their tech capabilities and bracing up to new role.
According to S. Gopalakrishnan, Partner, Global Auditing, Consultancy and Advisory firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), this demand supply gap will only widen.
The perception that this course is tough keeps away many career aspirants from this area of great demand not just for domestic requirements but to serve global companies.
What is interesting is that the number of accountants is dwindling in many countries and the work is growing by the day.
This provides Indian CAs with opportunities to serve companies located in other markets particularly the US and Europe, just like IT companies serve many corporations.
As a member of Central Council, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Founder Head of the IT body within ICAI, Mr. Gopalakrishnan expressed concern that many youngsters get deterred by the tough grind leading to a CA career.
However, it is not as difficult as it is made out to be. A student after 10 plus 2 level can get groomed under CAs. This is after taking Common Proficiency Test. Training makes him unique and equips him with skills to address issues in real life scenarios. Typically it takes about three and a half years to complete a CA course, which includes Inter and Final examinations.
Even if he completes Inter, there are several career options. But those who complete Chartered Accountancy can play a more distinguished role. To pave way for more careers, for those who complete Inter CA, they can assume the role of accounting technician.
In the U.K.
Like in the U.K., if a student drops out of a degree, he is still recognised as capable of handling many tasks. This has received government approval. It is anticipated India would need about 4,00,000 Chartered Accountants in few years from now.
Audit costs in the United States and the United Kingdom are steadily going up due to shortage of professionals.
Large firms there do not take up work of small businesses. All such work is there for grabs, he said. It is therefore advised that many students who do not take to accountancy could look at this blossoming career with immense opportunities. Referring to the myth that it is tough, he said it is not tough but has a lot to do with the ability to get business acumen and a lot of practical training. Thus, when a student joins accounting firms such as PwC, he gets trained to handle the career better and also in the process study and pass the exam. The outsourced auditing business is poised for quantum growth even if some competition comes from other emerging markets. The number of new CAs entering the profession globally is coming down and India can bridge this gap.
However, CAs now also need to equip themselves with tech skills to cover business aspects such as risk management, security, human resources management and regulatory issues.
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