“Where talent discovers opportunity and opportunity seeks talent.”
The above phrase is quoted on the website of ICAI in reference to articleship. A very deep one indeed!
Articleship in CA is expected to be looked at as a part of the roadmap to the destination. On the contrary many students look at it as a road block. You need to realize that as long as you are in the right place and on the move, you are learning. All you need to know and learn is to manage studying for your exams while undergoing the practical training. To feel that the work is complementing your learning process and helps you in your long term goals, you should choose the right firm considering the various options available.
To those of you who want to clear you CA exams in the first go and consider that an excuse to opt for dummy articles, please come out of the bubble. Dummy articles are a big Noo!! Without the practical knowledge of what the books teach, any theoretical knowledge you possess cannot just be of proper use. The practical knowledge acquired can be put on paper but it is difficult to do the other way round. So, make your choice wisely.
Opt for a firm that specialises in various areas:
You are new and unfamiliar with the practical world of a CA’s work when you first step in for articleship. Choose a firm that specializes in various areas so that you get exposed to the various facets of the work done by a firm. One major field a CA puts his heart into during articleship is audit. An audit is performed to determine whether an organization provides fair representation of its financial position by examining underlying information and documents. You can get to work majorly on the following audits:
- Tax audit
- Statutory audit
- Internal audit
- Stock audit
- Bank audit
- ERP audit
- Insurance audit
- SOX audit
- Peer review
Apart from the above works you also tend to learn a lot of other works that might at times seem monotonous if it is trivial or on the assisting front but is essential for better understanding of the business, such as:
- Accounting works
- Drafting of various certificates and reports
- Preparing project and finance reports
- Assisting in representations
- Management consultancy work
- ROC works
To make the most of your 3 years, you have to choose a firm that can provide you opportunities to learn and experience all or most of the above.
Know the options given by ICAI:
Ignorance is bliss, but not always. When you are ignorant of the available options that can put you in a better position, you just end up wasting you precious time. This forms the context to the fact that ICAI gives you a chance to request for a transfer in the first year of your articleship. So, if you feel like you could have been in a better place, make use of this option.
You can also go for secondment of articleship where the principal remains the same but upon agreement between the principal and the article, the article is allowed to be trained under a CA other than the registered principal. This can be pursued in a CA firm or under a CA in an industry. ICAI, however needs to be intimated about the same.
ICAI also offers the students an option to take up industrial training in the third year of their articleship. This is a road that is often less travelled. One reason could be lack of necessary exposure regarding how industrial training can help shape up one’s career and sometimes it is because one might want to take advantage of the adjusted environment and finish off exams soon rather than go to a new location. I would suggest you to have an open mind so you can unlock the opportunities available.
Choosing the right firm:
Small, medium and big firms:
Small firms or sole proprietorships usually have a local client base and the variety of work usually depends on the age of the firm. You can develop your network as you get the opportunity to have personal contact with all the clients. The stipend offered is however lower than the big firms but again this could be a flexible choice for work life balance. If you wish to start practicing as an auditor post CA, this should be your ideal choice.
A big firm acts as a launch pad to your career after CA. Most CA’s post their articleship and completion of CA look forward to land a job in the Big4’s. Having worked as an articled assistant in a big firm gives you an edge over others as you already are acquainted with the working culture of the corporate world. The stipend paid is quite handsome but during peak seasons you might just not be able to manage studies and work.
A medium firm combines the pros of a small and a big firm. It has some outstation visits, some hectic schedules and the grace time too. The scope for attending your regular coaching classes is greater as the work remains manageable. These firms have a mix of corporate clients, educations institutions, trusts and some individual clients too. So, if you have a wavering mind as to which route to take post CA, starting your articleship in a mid-sized firm is the best option.
Here are few more considerations to decide on the firm to opt for:
- Explore for information:
The first step in choosing the right firm starts with listing down the reputed firms. Then go about collecting information about the same. All the necessary information such as the number of partners, the type of clients they deal with, their goodwill in the business etc. The deciding factor is what they would want of you as an articled assistant. If you can conclude that your talent can be exploited optimally, you can go for it.
- Take cues from the insiders:
Information today is just a click away, thanks to the internet! But, the information that an insider can give cannot possibly be found on the internet. So, while making a decision, if possible, talk to any insiders who can give you a better insight into the firm’s processes and work culture. Also, do bear in mind that you should not base your decisions on others’ opinions because at the end of the day it is their perception. You might have a different view of it all together, so just gather information and consider that for decision making. Reviews from colleagues who have been there for a reasonable period of time can help you not to be misguided.
- Variety of work:
The variety of work that the firm is offered decides the quality of work you will be given and the diversified work that you would learn during the tenure of your articleship. If the firm itself has a limited client base with a lot of homogeneity, you only end up blaming the firm for not providing you with the required exposure.
- Where do you see yourself 3 years down the lane?
Not every qualified CA chooses to be a practioner. Some go for jobs in MNC’s and few other go about to be of support to their family businesses. Well, what you as a CA want to do decides which firm you opt for. If you wish to enter the corporate world you should go for articleship in big audit firms. However, if you want to take the route of practicing as an auditor, you should rather go for a small or medium sized firm where you can simultaneously build a network of yours.
- Work-study balance:
The very important aspect of your consideration should be the regard you can pay to the work-study balance. You need to be in a place where your work is given importance but not at the cost of your career. Make sure to take care so you do not end up in a firm where the work pressure accumulates to an extent that you take your exams for granted.
- Types of clients:
Having this information can help you decide on the options easily. Many firms would not reveal the identity of their clients. However, you can still manage to learn about the type of clients the firm is associated with and the duration of those associations so you can anticipate your take away from the articleship. If possible, do not hesitate to put across this question during your interview. It also leads the interviewer to believe that you want to take your job seriously.
If you make a wise choice considering the above, the day you clear CA and get done with training you can have a better understanding about where you want to make your career as you already know what work interests you and what you are passionate about.