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I’m a Chartered Accountant in the making. A female student who wants to be a Chartered Accountant in the future and I couldn’t help but notice how surprisingly Pakistanis have little or no authentic information about this field.
In the last decade or so, the world has seen drastic and umpteen changes: one of the important ones being the rise of hordes of previously obscure careers. One diverse career that continues to thrive is Chartered Accountancy. The fact that Pakistani students barely know about it when they’re on the verge of selecting an appropriate career path has compelled me to write an article on it.
It’s dispiriting that the general impression of chartered accountancy is based on a collection of myths that mislead prospective students. I decided that as a student of this certification, there would be no better way to emancipate this career from the erroneous information attached to it then to give you a list of the nine most frequently asked questions (quite annoying, I must say) that people shoot (sometimes, it literally feels like your being shot at with a gun as the questions can be so distasteful) at me when I mention I’m pursuing it.
Along with the questions are the best possible answers I could think of:
Question 1: “CA? You Must be In This Field For the Money”
This usually comes at us as an imposed statement rather than a question.
Whenever I tell somebody I am doing CA, they have to make it necessary to make me feel like I’m a greedy, voracious, crazy-for-money person.
Most of the Pakistani population assumes that our sole purpose and aim is to get filthy rich and that could be the only reason someone would choose a career as “difficult” as Chartered Accountancy. But it’s wrong to generally assume this. I’ve seen people in this field who’ve joined it for sheer pleasure. When parents are guiding their children about career options this is how CA is brought into focus:
“Beta, CA kar lo, iss main bohat paise hain.”
This dream about attaining education is etched in the minds of students from a young age, which leads them to follow market trends and scope of wealth rather than identifying their talents and capitalizing on the areas they were innately capable of. Do what you love to do!
Question 2: “Do You Want to Die Studying and Attain Just This Certification? Why Are you Walking Yourself Into a Trap?”
Wow *rolling my eyes to the point when they reach the back of my head*
People can be so encouraging, right? Some view it as a vicious trap that engulfs students in its web for years. This holds no truth as many of people have qualified in less than five or six years – the same time it would take you to get an MBA degree. Why is it that when it comes to Chartered Accountancy people have to count your years on their fingers over and over again? It takes the same approximate time in the majority of other fields to attain a professional qualification.
Out of these 5-6 years, we have a 3.5 year mandatory article ship period, where we get hands-on experience and basically start off our employment in reputable firms.
Yes, there are people who complete Chartered Accountancy in a longer period of time, there are exceptions in every profession. People have different intelligence levels and abilities, they take their time. But it’s better late than never, isn’t it?
Question 3: “You Were a Straight A* Student in A Levels, Were You Rejected By IBA or LUMS?”
No doubt the two universities named above are the best in Pakistan and produce brilliant individuals, but I fail to understand why some uninformed people tend to mark CA as a second string career option. Maybe I didn’t want to apply to the two universities in the first place.
Maybe I wanted to do this instead with my free will and consent. A lot of people want to do this , it’s their priority, not a second best option. I remember going to my counselor and telling her about my choice and her reaction was:
“You definitely aim to make gol rotis in the future hence you are choosing this over a costly MBA. You can drop out of it anytime“, smirking at me.
Question 4: “Which University Do you Go to? Which Module are You In?”
We DO NOT have a university. We have tuition institutes.
There are Registered Accounting Education Tutors ( RAETs) that are registered with ICAP-Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), a non-profit organization, that deals with chartered accountancy examinations, membership, and ancillary affairs.
These tutors, unfortunately, do not have the proper university type buildings, they are mostly made in bungalows.This is the sole rant of most CA students. They want the large, beautiful buildings and the structured extra-curricular activities but some things aren’t meant to be
A student can be enrolled for different subjects at different tutors, whichever they find suitable to their academic needs. It’s quite annoying to explain to people that the modular system has been changed to a level system. We aren’t in any module now, we are on a level that has several examinations.
Question 5: “Aren’t CA and ACCA the Same Thing?”
No, they are two different qualifications.
Founded in 1904, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA or FCCA).
Chartered Certified Accountant is the professional body’s main qualification. Following completion of up to 14 professional examinations, three years of supervised, relevant accountancy experience and a professional ethics module, it enables an individual to become a Chartered Certified Accountant.
ACCA’s headquarters are in London with the principal administrative office in Glasgow. Thus, these are two different accounting qualifications and are associated with different accounting bodies.
Question 6: “What Are the Big 4?
It’s funny that when I started Chartered Accountancy I had no idea whatsoever about the Big 4. People would ask: “You’ll go to one of the Big 4’s for your article ship, right? “, and I had no clue what they were talking about. Call me stupid for I was, I’m the first person in my family to choose this qualification so I had very little guidance.
A sort of oligopoly exists worldwide as far as the audit firms are concerned which handles the vast majority of audits for public as well as many private limited companies. These four audit czars have offices in almost all countries of the world with revenues of each hover around $ 20 billion.
These are Ernst & Young (E&Y), Deloitte, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). This oligopoly extends to Pakistan too and therefore it is considered promising to begin a career at one of these. Let’s see where I end up!
Question 7: “I Don’t See you Study Much. Do You Ever Study in This CA Thing?”
We are NORMAL human beings and we have to achieve a balance between our social life and academics. I do not study all the time, I enjoy my life quite normally.
Yes, this certification can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible and aren’t all high-level professions difficult?
Question 8: “Does ICAP Purposely Fail Students?”
I’ve heard this a lot and I can honestly claim that this is a rumor. You don’t study and fail; it’s as simple as that. I for one do not believe they’d fail someone on purpose.
ICAP is truly committed to its cause of being the benchmark of professional excellence upholding the principles of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
Question 9: “Anyone Can Start Chartered Accountancy. It’s Open to all the Losers that had no other option. What’s With the Admission Criteria?”
This isn’t true. Not everyone can go on with CA. They’ve made entry into the career easy because of the low number of people who are actually able to do it in the first place. If they impose strict admissibility criteria this will reduce the numbers coming even further.
Entry to the field is fairly open to all and sundry across the country. All those with a minimum of 70 percent score in intermediate or graduation can directly enter the modular scheme of studies. Advanced level candidates need to score grades with a minimum of two Cs.
The qualification is among the toughest ones in the country and demands unmatched resilience, determination, and willpower. However, this is an extremely rewarding profession – monetarily, professionally and socially. A timely qualified chartered accountant can hope for a six-digit starting salary and accomplished Fellow Chartered Accountants can go beyond the seven-digit mark, too. Further, chartered accountants are no more background staffers but they are increasingly becoming the movers and shakers of leading industries as Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Add to it the fact that Pakistani chartered accountant are recognized as very sound professionals the world over.
To conclude, this is one raging career that is getting rave reviews by most career councilors. Nonetheless, there is a caveat emptor: this can be a quagmire for those who lack consistency and perseverance. It is for those possessing integrity, intelligence, sound judgment, a strong analytical predisposition and determination to succeed in life.
I hope that these answers help students all over Pakistan and clears the myths related to this career. I’ve always felt as a student that someone needed to clear the air and I gave this the best shot.