Cutting through business complexity
Role: Globalisation, expansion and multinational corporate culture have widened the role of a chartered accountant. Now apart from performing accounting and auditing jobs CAs are required for cost management, taxation planning and management, risk assessment, international tax and accounting compliances, business advisory, financial consultancy, corporate governance, project financing and in finalising merger and acquisition deals. With stricter financial reporting norms, a CA performs an important role in a company.
Course and training: Managed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the course is a rigorous and challenging one and requires students to clear examinations at three stages — the Common Proficiency Test, the Integrated Professional Competency Course and the CA Final examination. The CA course also requires a student to take up three years of articleship and acquire training in IT, general management and communication skills.
Quite comprehensive and students need not pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree with it.
For whom is this career suitable? Students who are hardworking, determined and have good academic ability, numerical and problem-solving skills are encouraged to pursue CA.
Job prospects: The Chartered Accountancy programme is one of the most cost-effective professional courses that a commerce student could pursue. The average start salary could be in the range of Rs 4-14 lakh per annum with bright prospects for future growth as well. A CA could rise up to the position of CFO or Director in a business organisation depending on his/her performance. Alternatively, they may even choose to become a consultant.
Ensuring compliance and corporate governance
Role: A company secretary generally holds office as a senior manager in a company and may be a board member in a large public company. A CS is a communicator, facilitator, arbitrator and advisor to a company’s board of directors, the company’s shareholders and the regulatory authorities. The main role of a CS is to lend advice to the management, for example, where there is a conflict of interest, the CS lends legal advice to the board of directors, on financial reporting matters the CS lends accounting advice and they may also provide general advice to the senior management on matters related to the development of strategy and corporate planning. The CS is primarily responsible for corporate governance, compliance with regulations, conducting shareholder meetings, negotiating contracts, risk management among other things.
For whom is this career suitable? Students interested in legal matters and who are willing to work hard and for long hours are encouraged to get into this profession. A good CS must possess good administrative ability, sound judgment, and high ethical standards and take keen interest in current affairs.
Course and training: The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) manages this course. There are three qualifying stages for becoming a company secretary — the foundation stage, the executive programme and the professional programme. Students may choose to join the foundation course after completing Plus II and then move on to the executive level of the course. Alternatively, one can complete graduation/ post-graduation and then seek admission directly into the executive stage. Apart from courses of study students also have to undertake an industrial training and short-term programmes on development of management and communication skills.
Job prospects: There are currently around 30,000 company secretaries in India and the demand is far more than the supply. With stringent enforcement of corporate governance norms and mandatory requirement of having a CS for companies with paid up capital exceeding Rs 5 crore, the demand for qualified CS will grow in the times to come.