Do you know why you have chosen to be a CA?
I envy the age you are at, the start of life, the breath of fresh air and the advent of freedom to do and go wherever you want. Yet it’s probably the toughest age to be at, as now you are faced with that troublesome question of - “What career do I choose?”.
Sometimes I wonder how this world expects us at the tender age of 17 to make such an important life affecting decision. The choice of a career becomes even more critical given the fact that most of us will not be changing careers throughout our lives. It makes it thus even more important to make an informed choice. But how? Who is going to guide? Will it be the right guidance?
I don’t believe I can tell you what you want to do, I can only share my journey and the lessons I learnt so that maybe it helps you make a more informed choice than I did.
I am a teacher and have been one for the last 18 years and today I don’t just believe, I know this is the profession I was meant for. I have enjoyed every day and cherished every moment as a teacher and having taught over 20,000 students, today I look back and wonder how did I become one, as this was never what I had planned on becoming.
I was once at the stage you are at today. When I was in school around the age of 13, 3 cousins of mine married Chartered Accountants and I saw that these gentlemen made more money than anyone else around and of course my decision was made, as simply as that.
Later however I got goods marks in sciences in the 10th boards and another decision was made for me, so I took to the non-medical stream, as simply as that another career choice was made. Then again during +2, I realised that physics, chemistry and maths made no sense to me and somehow I decided to shift to commerce 3 months before the board exams, was told its not possible but then with another stroke of luck , it happened and as simply as that another career shift happened and can you believe it, I not only covered the entire +1 & +2 syllabus in 3 months but also stood 2nd in college.
I did struggle with accounts all through B.Com (scored only 35%, OMG) yet stood first. Enjoyed college life with very little thought or care for the future. Then that moment stared at me again when college was about to end and it was time to take a final decision and I was confused, yet again.
Is a CA an Accountant?
In our times one could join CA only after passing B.Com and by now my fear of accounts and the inability to score marks in it had handicapped my dream to become a CA. I remember that day in the summer of 1993 very clearly, we had requested our HOD in DAV College , Chandigarh for some advice as a lot of my batchmates had similar doubts too.
When I asked the Professor - “Sir I am bad with accounts , can I do CA?” , his following words shaped my future , he said “In CA accounts is only one subject and all your other subjects are very strong”
And so simply again I set out to do CA, barely passed costing and mastered the art of attempting the accounts paper, did exceedingly well in Law and Taxation , completed the course in my first attempt and became a CA.
Let me assure you with the ending of a phase there is always another one glaring in your face.
During my 3 years articleship training I had realised that I had no passion for auditing or accounting or any of the other work that a CA did. The option was to take up a job (which did not seem exciting) or an easier one to join my father in the family business. And simply again, I joined the family business. A short stint in business with my dad that didn’t work out and I was back to CA.
During this phase some of my brother’s friends (who was also doing CA) asked me to teach them and I did and soon I realised I had a lot of students coming to me for their doubts. I started teaching and soon it became a full time occupation and before I could realise I had become a teacher, written books and taught more students than I could count and so here I am writing to guide you all so that your journey does not survive on luck as mine did.
I understand that the dilemma of the choice of career has survived all these years and still exists and more so today as students have so many options before them.
We often choose based on a parent’s push or a peer’s resolve , without looking into more and finding out if we are meant to be doing the work involved therein.
What does a CA do?
I often get to hear, WOW you are a CA , you must be so good at maths and accounts , and I smile back and say I am good at neither, they are confused and so I believe is a lot of the population as the course curriculum in +2 only teaches us accounts thereby making one believe that its what there is to a CA, however nothing can be farther from the truth.
One must understand that in a Democracy the written books of rules are the law of the land and our main book is the Constitution and from there emerges the concept of the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha, the office of the President, the Judiciary and the Administrative services. The Law making and implementation procedure is all there in the Constitution which allows rules for governing the Indian population to be made in the form of Acts passed by the legislature. And here is where the CA comes into the picture.
In 1949 , legislature passed an Act bringing into existence “the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India” , wherein a power was given to the institute to train professionals and certify them as experts in their understanding of the various commercial and taxation and accounting laws of the land.
A CA will have to give exams to prove his understanding of
Commercial Laws applicable in India: A student while doing CA reads, understands and masters various ‘Acts’ written and passed by the Legislature which the public of India are to follow for example the Company’s Act, the Income Tax Act, the Goods and Service Tax Act, SEBI Act, Insolvency and Bankruptcy code among such other Laws.
Financial Management: also understands and gains expertise about the complex world of the share and financial markets.
Auditing: the understanding of the accountancy and the accounting standards is essential for a CA to be able to audit or check accounts of various companies and certify them as correct for safeguarding the investor capital. The investors generally base their decision to invest in companies on the audited balance sheet and P&L accounts audited and signed by the CA, and our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi famously said “The Signature of a CA is more important than the signature of the Prime Minister”.
On clearing the exams and earning the right to prefix CA. , often referred to as alphabets of trust , by ICAI, one earns the right to advice the public of India on the aforesaid laws and of course charge money, lots of it.
In short a CA is the expert of all the business related laws and rules and is essential to the functioning of corporate India.
Tips to help make up your mind?
CA is not just about accountancy
CA is not difficult to pass , if you have made out your mind and are ready to work really hard
CA is the only degree without any quota - no amount of donation can get you the degree, you simply have to earn it.
CA gives you the options of getting a Job, doing your own Practice or like me teaching others to become a CA.
CA itself opens up various professional pursuits and one can opt to pursue a career in Indirect taxation or Direct taxation or international taxation or become an Auditor – statutory, internal , management etc or look into Mergers & Acquisitions, Financial Management, Budgetary Forecasts and control , oh there is so much you can become with this one degree.
So choose well and Best of luck
CA Arvind Tuli