What Does a Chartered Accountant Do? Duties and Career Path
The high pay and prestige associated with chartered accountancy often attract many people to this profession. If you are confident with numbers and have strong analytical skills, you may be interested in becoming a chartered accountant (CA). Knowing more about this profession is the first step towards establishing a career in this sector. In this article, we answer, "What does a chartered accountant do?" and share a step-by-step guide for how to become one.
What is a chartered accountant?
A chartered accountant is an internationally recognised financial professional who manages budgets, auditing, taxes and business strategies for clients. As a CA, you can work for businesses, the government and individuals. Your job is to provide expert financial advice and help clients manage their funds. The chartered accountant credential qualifies an individual to offer financial consultation and keep financial records.
What does a chartered accountant do?
You can work in many different sectors, but you are likely to perform a similar set of duties whatever the industry vertical. Here is a list of critical responsibilities of chartered accountants:
Accountancy and auditing
From basic bookkeeping to complex financial analysis, accounting is one of your responsibilities. Additionally, you may also work on audits. Given your CA expertise, auditing is one of the most valuable services you provide.
When you run an audit, you go through the accounts within financial statements presented to your clients. You check that they are based on the proper accounting guidelines and represent the actual state of the funds belonging to this client. Auditing is entrusted to CAs because this requires your specialised education, training, judgement and financial skills.
Chartered accountants are often asked to serve in a consultative role, helping businesses utilise resources efficiently. As a management consultant, you can provide consulting services like:
designing, developing and implementing systems for budgetary control and cost accounting, and computer programs for accounting and commercial activities
developing Management Information Systems (MIS) and Accounting Information Systems (AIS)
consulting on complicated financial matters like international tax laws, collaborations and mergers, along with corporate law
evaluating the prospects of new business ventures like expansion, project launches and amalgamations
advising management teams on practical organisational skills, such as delegation strategies and planning of work
analysing existing systems for operational control, financial planning and resource utilisation and suggesting improvements
taking responsibility for the effective use of business capital and making sure that working capital has an effective return in terms of productivity
helping with decisions on matters like product ranges and pricing
assisting in interactions with government bodies
serving as registrars on matters of share transfers and other securities
Businesses, individual clients and other institutions often need a chartered accountant's extensive knowledge and expertise when dealing with taxation. As a CA, you have extensive training on the various statutory taxes. Your clients need the services of someone who has a clear understanding of current tax information.
Tax assessment is an integral part of finance management. Chartered accountants help clients file their tax returns, represent their clients in interactions with income tax authorities and generally provide advice on all tax-related matters.
As a CA, your training means that you can offer professional advice to companies on matters related to production. Whether the company provides a product or a service, your guidance can help them calculate the production costs accurately during various stages of operation. You can guide the management team with cost control strategies and the right selling price for their products or services.
Settlements and estates
You might serve as executor of a will or trust to administrate a settlement or an estate. In a role like this, you may work closely with a solicitor or lawyer. Sometimes, a solicitor or lawyer working on trust or estate settlements might bring you in to assist with the accounting side of the work.
Serving on boards of directors
Most companies understand and value the advantages of having a chartered accountant occupy a seat on their board of directors. CAs with years of experience are often chosen for this role. Once you have built some experience in senior positions within the industry, you could be asked to serve as the director of a company.
Serving as secretary of an organisation
Well-structured companies may prefer to hire a CA in the role of secretary among the management. Often, groups of companies may also choose to appoint you in a secretarial role. Your main responsibility is to assist the board of directors in areas like finance, administration, accounting, and taxation.
You may also play the part of an arbitrator in issues of dispute settlement. For example, if a business fails and declares bankruptcy, you can help prepare statements of affairs. You can also serve as a company's trustee in case of bankruptcy or under a deed of arrangement.
Your expertise can be a valuable asset to companies that want a clear picture of their financial position. For instance, companies may want to perform investigative duties when:
selling a business
acquiring a business
finding new financial opportunities for a business
Companies may also hire you to boost efficiency within management or analyse why profits are up or down.
How much do chartered accountants get paid?
The average salary of a CA is ₹7,97,786 per year. This is influenced by factors like your experience, industry and employer. Location plays a part too. You are likely to find better-paying CA jobs in cities like New Delhi, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
How to become a chartered accountant
Depending on your choices concerning your training and development, the path you take to a job as a chartered accountant may vary. Here are the general steps to help you get started:
1. Complete your schooling
Pass your higher secondary examinations. There are two paths you can take to become an ICAI-certified CA, but the minimum requirement, either way, is to pass class XII.
When you are in class XII, try to analyse yourself critically. Determine if you are adept at maths and finances. Decide if you have the commitment and dedication it takes to do what an ICAI-certified chartered accountant does. This is important, as chartered accountancy revolves around maths. For instance, CAs are good at spotting errors within extensive lists of numbers. So, you might have to dedicate a few years of your time and hard effort to earn the success and great pay that comes with this job.
2. Join the CA Foundation Course
Enrol in the Foundation Course once you complete class XII. You are expected to spend at least four months of study here. Once this period is completed, you are eligible for the CA Foundation Examination.
Related: Understanding the CFA Exam
3. Complete the CA Intermediate Examination, ICITSS and Article Training
Register for the intermediate course after you get through the foundation course and the following exam. After the eight-month CA Intermediate study course, the next stage is article training. To enrol here, you need to have completed:
the four-week Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft skills or ICITSS
at least one of the two groups of CA Intermediate exams
Article training takes three years. Once you complete this, you can enrol for the CA final course. Ensure you clear both groups of the CA Intermediate exams so you are eligible for the final course. Note that you can also register for the final exam during the last six months of article training.
4. Enrol in the CA Final Course
Before registering for the final course, you also need to complete four weeks of Advanced Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (AICITSS). You can do this anytime after your first year of article training. If you enrol for the final exam while you are still in your articleship period, make sure you complete article training first. Once you clear the final exam, register with the ICAI to officially become a chartered accountant and start practising.
In case you have already graduated in another discipline, you can skip the CA Foundation Course. This requires that you score at least 55% in a commerce degree or 60% in any other undergraduate or postgraduate program.
Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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