Careers in finance and accounts have gained tremendous popularity in the last decade. In accountancy the most prestigious career option is that of a Chartered Accountant. Chartered Accountants hold key position in firms. Moreover under the Company's Act, only CA’s are entitled to be appointed as auditors in companies.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body that was set up to regulate the profession of chartered accountants. The responsibilities of conducting the Chartered Accountancy Course as well granting licence to candidates after successful completion of the course, by way of granting membership to the institute, are both vested with ICAI.
Seeking admission in CA is relatively simpler in the sense that no competitive exam like in case of engineering, medicine etc is required to be cleared. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), which conducts the course, has its headquarters at New Delhi and regional offices at Kanpur, Mumbai, Kolkatta and Chennai in addition to 81 branches spread all over the country. The institute has also established 9 chapters overseas. Those seeking to register with ICAI for pursuing the course need to fulfil the following criteria:
v Must be 18 years of age
v Must have completed the 10 month duration ‘Foundation Course’ conducted by ICAI or (after 10+2 one can enrol for ‘Foundation Course’)
v Must be a graduate or post graduate in subject that qualifies for exemption from the foundation course viz.
1. Graduates in commerce with 50% marks
2. Graduates, without mathematics, with 55% marks
3. Non-commerce graduates with mathematics, having 60% marks
A student can enrol for the Foundation Course straight away after 10+2 and after successfully completing it seek registration for the CA course. However graduation has also to be pursued side by side as it is an essential requirement for becoming a full-fledged CA.
The Registration and Tuition Fee for the Foundation Course is Rs. 1500/-. Candidates who fulfill the eligibility requirements have to send their applications in the prescribed form, together with a Demand Draft for Rs. 1500/- drawn in favor of 'The Secretary, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India' Payable at New Delhi/Mumbai/ Kolkatta/Chennai/ Kanpur, as the case may be depending upon the State in which they reside. Candidates who have appeared in the final Senior Secondary Examination or equivalent examination may also be registered provisionally for Foundation Course.
The Foundation Examination is held in May and November every year. A candidate can take the Examination after ten months of registration and obtaining eligibility certificate from the Board of Studies. The Foundation Examination consists of the following four papers:
Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Accounting
Paper 2 – Mercantile Law
Paper 3 – Section 'A'-Mathematics; Section 'B'-Statistics
Paper 4 – Economics
The main course is a mixture of theory and practical training. Those eligible for the course first require registering themselves as ‘Article Clerks’ with a practicing CA and thereafter with ICAI for the course. The prescribed duration for practical training is 3-4 years.
The Board of Studies of the Institute through postal coaching imparts the Theoretical Training. They provide study material to students and also conduct the qualifying examinations viz. the Intermediate Examination and the Final Examination.
The study material for the intermediate course is supplied by ICAI to the students soon after they register and pay the tuition fee. The study material for the final course is supplied only to those students who clear the intermediate examination and register themselves for the final course.
Eligibility tests in various subjects form a part of the postal coaching scheme and a student has to clear these tests as well as 9 months training as an ‘Article Clerk’ for being eligible to sit for the Intermediate Examinations.
After clearing the Intermediate Exam, a student is permitted to serve a part of the practical training in a financial, commercial or industrial undertaking approved by the institute. The industrial training enables an articled clerk to gain practical experience in internal audit and auditing procedures and operating systems of financial control etc.
The Final Course does not comprise of eligibility tests for the Examination as at the Intermediate Level, nonetheless a student can avail of the optional tests for better preparation. The Final Examination can be taken while doing the articleship provided not more than 6 months of articleship period is left or alternatively after completion of the articleship.
Both these examinations are conducted in May and November every year and results are declared in July and January respectively. The course fee is very reasonable at Rs 3150 if paid in lump sum and Rs 3400 if paid in instalments. Apart from the low fees a student also earns a modest stipend during the articleship.
Though theoretically CA is a three-year course, less than 25% students are able to complete it during this duration. The examination syllabus is extensive and in depth studies is required. Therefore becoming a CA is a tough proposition though the prospects that the career holds is worth the grill.
On successful completion of the Final Exam, the aspiring CA can apply for membership of the ICAI. At first he becomes an Associate Member of the institute (ACA) and after five years of regular practice and other requisite experience becomes eligible to apply for membership as a Fellow of the Institute (FCA). Further details about the course as well as the profession may be gathered from the institutes’ website-www.icai.org