The higher you aim, the further you will go!
This is the one saying that best fits to get the mind-set of a student on the right path. If CA is your aim, give it a thought and see if CA is the limit too. Well, how about some additional qualifications beside your name? they add value to both your name and your profile. You get that extra edge over your counterparts when you have an addition qualification.
Let’s look at a few courses that a CA aspirant can pursue
CPA US (Certified Public Accountant)
Here is a very good course to pursue that also has global recognition. One can apply for CPA if they fulfil the necessary requirements of education and experience. Since each of the 55 states in the US have different laws, a CPA that obtains licence through a particular state should know that the licence is valid only in that state. However, he/she can work as a CPA in any business place.
Requirement: CPA requires a four-year bachelor’s degree equivalent in the USA. Ok, so this might come across as quite a concern to many aspiring CA’s. Anyway, there is very little to worry. For a CA student in India, most of you pursue B.com simultaneously. Each year of your study adds 30 credits to the required 120 credits. Since B.com is a 3-year course all the credits add to 90. The additional 30 can be added as follows:
- Clear you CA IPCC – earn 30 credits
- Clear you CA Final – earn 60 credits
- Pursue a relevant master’s degree (M.com or MBA) – Earn 30 credits for each year.
One thing worth mention is a total of 150 credits is necessary for practicing as a CPA and to gain the license. However, this is not a hindrance in the path of you appearing for the exam and working elsewhere as a CPA.
CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
As a CA student, if you are looking for a globally accepted course that would grant you exemptions too, then you are looking at the right thing. For every stage of CA, you have an equivalent exemption in CIMA. You are eligible for exemptions even if you have not cleared your CA. CIMA is equivalent to a master’s degree. Unlike CPA which is the CA equivalent in some countries, CIMA is concerned with the entire business and is not limited to accounting, auditing or taxation. Certain areas of business like the big data analytics, costing etc. are a part of the CIMA course.
The flexibility that this course offers lets students attempt the exams from any nation that is registered. So, this one is definitely worth it. Many CA’s lack the managerial acumen that acts as a barrier or for a CA in reaching management positions in an organization. CIMA, for sure helps CAs enhances this ability of theirs.
CIMA has three levels comprising of operational, management and strategic level exams. For a CA to claim exemptions, he/ she has to take the Gateway exam which is a three hour long online exam available in four windows across the year. This exam assesses the knowledge covered in management level of CIMA exam. On clearing this, you can directly appear for the strategic level.
Here are a few roles offered to CIMA professionals:
- Business Analyst
- Group treasurer
- Chief Financial officer
- Financial consultant
- Forensic accountant
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
This is also a global qualification that has a memorandum of understanding (mou) with ICAI. As a qualified Chartered Accountant, you are eligible for exemption and can earn the qualification through ACCA by clearing only 4 exams.
One advantage is that exams are not held in groups, one needs to reappear only for the module that he/she failed to clear. One can appear for these exams even from India in the nearest British council office. So, even in this regard, ACCA offers flexibility.
Exemptions available: A qualified CA has the privilege to take the fast track route in ACCA. It means that you can start your journey at the professional level where you are eligible for exemptions in 9 out of 14 papers!
The professional level is categorized into essentials and options. In the essentials category there are 3 papers that are compulsory and out of the 4 papers in the option category you need to write any 2 of your choice. Since this is a globally recognized course, career opportunities at your disposal are definitely multiplied.
CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
If your inclination towards finance urges you to learn more and take up a career in finance, you should take up CFA as your career path. Once you become a CFA charter holder, you would have learnt a lot about investment analysis and portfolio management. One is trained to become a portfolio manager, risk manager, trader or a research analyst.
CFA helps boost your financial credentials. The first important step in CFA is to qualify the three CFA exams offered. One needs to gain four years of qualified experience which can be obtained concurrently while taking exams.
Availability of exemptions:
As a CA you are not eligible for any exemptions in CFA examinations. However, 60% of the CA syllabus is reflected in the Level 1 examination of CFA which definitely counts as an advantage to those who belong to the CA fraternity.
You can clear all the three levels of CFA in 2-2.5 years by clearing 10 subjects at each level.
CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
Well, this is the very famous duo in India! Become a cost accountant as it offers a wider scope for you to be a part of the manufacturing sector. Especially with the advent of ‘Make in India’ introduced by the government, there are a plethora of opportunities awaiting the cost accountants. For a student pursuing CA, it is easy to take up CMA owing to similarity in the examination pattern and many common topics.
A member of CMA India also has an advantage of getting enrolled as a member of CMA USA, thanks to the MOU signed by the two countries.
Availability of exemptions: A CA student who has cleared the foundation/CPT has an advantage to appear directly for the executive level. So, you can pursue both the courses simultaneously owing to the fact that though there are no exemptions available at the further levels, CA and CMA have many topics in common.
Financial analysis in manufacturing firms, pricing decisions, build or lease, budget preparation are a few areas where managements accountants part a very important part.
CS (Company Secretary)
A CA and a CS is a very powerful combination. If studying bare acts, interpreting laws, dealing with what does each section talk about and drafting are all your area of interest, opt for CS. As a member of ‘The Institute of Company Secretaries of India’ one can be expected to work as a legal expert, corporate planner, strategic manager and few of the likes.
A CS takes care of the corporate governance of the company and once you complete CS you are regarded as an expert in company laws and practice. When this knowledge is combined with the certification of a CA, it does a wonderful job as the expertise of accounts and law are both in the same place.
Exemption: Similar to CMA, clearing CPT/ foundation of the CA course relieved you from appearing for the foundation level of CS and allows you to appear directly for the professional exam. A skillful CS is required by just every organisation as banking and non- banking institutions, office of the liquidator, office of registrar of companies, law firms and al the multi-national companies too. So, one can imagine the wide scope offered.
Ok, so this is one opportunity that is either not given a lot of weight or is never considered for someone who pursues CA. However, because CA’s are considered to have a masters’ degree equivalent, they have the eligibility to pursue PhD courses in the related streams.
We are all very well verse with what value a Phd has. There is a list of universities that the ICAI has published on its website which recognise CA qualification for PhD. If you with pursue PhD programme in India in Finance or Accountancy a CA qualification will be of immense value to you.
CISA and CIA – internal audit certifications
Now that we have looked at a few professional courses that are mostly long term, here are a few certifications that take lesser time for you to gain the certification. These are the certifications in internal audit / Information systems Audit. As a student of Chartered Accountancy, if you possess these additional qualifications, you will definitely have that extra edge over the other chartered accountants.
A CA student has in depth knowledge about any topic that is discussed as a part of the syllabus. This when coupled with the smartness of an MBA graduate, you would come across as a complete package. Usually, an MBA student cannot compete with a CA student in deep analysis of subjects like Accounting, Taxation, Financial Analysis etc. Also, the exposure provided to an MBA graduate lets him market his ideas better. When you have the better of the two professions, you can just be the ideal one that recruiters would want to hire.
PG Diploma in Banking and Finance and PG Programme in securities market and the like
These are some certificate courses that are like add-ons to your profile. For a CA to become an investment banker, what holds back is the requirement of expertise in finance. Taking up financial modelling courses, valuation courses and other such certifications courses can make you stand out of the rest. There is no limit to the certificate courses that you can pursue to be regarded as a certified professional.
To conclude, never have any pre-conceived notions about something. When you decide about a career option, look for the various other courses that complement this and do your research and choose that which suits your interests. Address your flaws, clear all your doubts and just go for it.
All the Best!