A mountain of debt, a sea of corporate laws, and in their midst, the ebb and flow of the Indian stock market – the commercial world is truly a man made wonder. However, for the vast team of professionals, who systematically dissect these figures and laws, and run this hub of activity, it’s all in a day’s work. The education environment that governs the commercial arena of these young Indian professionals comprises three major professional courses – the Chartered Accountancy (CA) course, the Company Secretary (CS) course and the Cost and Works accountancy (CWA) course.

Chartered Accountancy (CA):

Perhaps, it’s the fat pay cheque that CAs can command, or the idea of a prestigious professional degree, but the fact is, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has always successfully drawn young students, fresh out of class 12, back into the world of academics in less than two months. What makes an ideal CA candidate? Partner, Shah and Co Chartered Accountants, enumerates, “To me an ideal CA student must have passion, an interest in understanding the economic environment, and a commitment to render excellent professional service wherever they choose to work”.

In essence a chartered accountant is involved with the work of financial reporting and for this purpose, his job is to scrutinize financial transactions and records. A CA in the role of an auditor can carry out three main branches of audit work – statutory audit, tax audit and internal audit. While traditionally, CAs have set up practice or joined firms that were involved in audit work, currently the scope of a CA’s job profile has expanded into other financial services. However, many believe that students with an MBA degree are better suited than CAs for other financial services. Still, Parekh, who is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) and also has an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management Studies, Chicago, disagrees. She asserts “I think a CA brings greater content knowledge and disciplined work methodology to the table, whereas an MBA brings breadth and flair. There is room for both of these in the financial services sector”.

The course, which is intensely grueling, covers a mix of subjects covers a mix of subjects that includes advanced accountancy law, audit, taxation, cost accounting, financial management and information technology. However one of its unique features is its inbuilt provision of a three year internship period, known as the articleship, which prompts a student to go beyond the realm of academic knowledge. Practicing chartered accountants consider the articleship a useful tool to mould future employees, and students also give this provision a thumbs up as it allows them to test their knowledge in a protected but practical environment.

The course stretches to roughly four years, which include three levels of examinations:

1) The entrance level: Common Proficiency Test
2) The inter CA level: Integrated Professional Competency Examination
3) The final CA examination

A charted accountant can expect anything between Rs 360,000 per annum to Rs 600,000 per annum, when he / she initially starts out.

Company Secretary (CS):

The CS course is a career option that commerce students with a legal bent of mind, can consider. The CS course involves working on various legal compliances to be obtained by a company. It is a statutory requirements for a company, with a paid up share capital above Rs five crore to appoint a company secretary, ensuring that there’s never a dearth of jobs for these professionals. However, a final CS student cautions those who take up the course, in addition to another professional courses like CA. Some students tend to register for the courses with the hope that it will beef up their resume. While the CS degree is rather valuable on its own, if you do study for a CA, as well as a CS, it’s not going to score you major points on the job front. The reason for this is that both courses are rather different from the core. Thus, it would be advisable to pursue an add-on course that branches out into either one of the fields.

A company secretary is expected to look into the legal aspect of a company’s functions. Statutory requirements, in compliance wit the Companies Act, have to be met by a company at all times and a company secretary is appointed to ensure the same. A company secretary also forms a link between the shareholders and the board of directors, by ensuring timely holding of meetings and appropriate documentation of the same.

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