07 Jun 2021 12:30 IST

What after qualifying CA?

Should one go in for private practice or work for big four accounting firms or choose a corporate career?

After one qualifies as a CA, in today's times is it advisable to go in for private practice as a CA or work for one of the big four accounting firms or join a corporate in its accounts function? Should one gain some experience before striking out on one’s own? - Jaishree

CA practice: We are amid a pandemic, and being ‘atmanirbhar’ (self reliant), is essential. CA practice offers that option. Starting a practice is easy, but challenges arise as you move ahead. Suppose you are willing to sacrifice pay for a few years, practise patience in getting clients, be good at networking and selling, confident in managing risks, and ready to provide quality and timely service then you are ready as a CA practitioner.

Big Four: Joining the big four or large accounting firms enables you to gain experience, understand industries, businesses, departments and processes. Work is rewarding and challenging. Rewarding as you will stupendously improve your technical know how and challenging as that would require you to work long hours, making you feel underpaid. If you are a workaholic, like new challenges, meet new people, set bold goals, and new learnings, then working at big audit firms would be fun.

Corporate: Here the work is in real time, and there is little chance of error. There are several opportunities: Accountant, analyst, investment banker, fintech consultant, insurance advisor, finance manager, tax expert, ERM consultant, and internal auditor. Working in a corporate may lead you to occupy a board position or head of a function or even CEO if you possess the technical knowledge of the business. If one is looking for a 9/7 job, low risks and high rewards, specialising in an area of work, and retirement plan — choose the corporate world. What to choose depends on the priorities in one's life. The good news is that it is not either/or. You can seamlessly shift from one to another like I did. My sense is that if you want to be an entrepreneur, work first in a company or an audit firm and build technical and networking skills; then get on your own.

Book recommendation: Beyond 2020: Twenty-five happening careers in accounting and finance.

(The writer has 16 years of post-qualification experience having worked for Ernst & Young, KPMG, Qatar Petroleum, and now an entrepreneur with his self-practice in Hyderabad.)