As the economy is expanding in every sphere, the demand for professional accountants is also growing. There are three professional courses in accounts- CA (Chartered Accountancy), CS (Company Secretary) and CWA (Cost and Works Account). All of these courses have a promising future as accountants have a key role in the success of any company in today’s highly competitive world. Highly efficient professionals also serve as management and corporate caretakers.
These professions require a practical approach, logical, analytical mind and a natural instinct to deal with figures. All the three courses demand patient, diligent efforts.
The course contents and functions of CA, CWA and CS are somewhat similar. However they differ in specializations which are as follows-
CA- Accounting, taxation and auditing.
CWA- Costing and management, accounting.
CS- Company Law and related aspects.
Chartered Accountants (CA)
CA’s are involved in core accounting work, analyzing risk and design of efficient financial system, taxation and auditing work, finalizing and certifying the annual reports and balance sheets.
Services of CA are required in-
1) Under Section 44 of the Income Tax Law, every assessee with a gross receipt of Rs. 10 lakh in case of professionals and Rs. 40 lakh in case of business concerns is compulsorily required to maintain accounts and get them audited by a CA.
2) CA’s services are employed by the tax department for auditing complicated cases having large revenue potential.
3) CA’s services are employed by the RBI and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for conducting statutory audit of banks every year.
4) Consultancy assignments/independent practice.
Course and examinations
ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) is responsible for conducting exams for CA, providing course materials to candidates and issuing license to practice to the successful candidates.
CA program is of 2 years apart from the training period. There are three stages of examinations to be cleared- 1. Competency Professional Test (CPT), 2. Professional Competency Examination (PCE), 3. Final Examination.
The subjects of these examinations are broadly- accounting, general economics, mathematics, statistics, business & corporate laws, financial management, auditing, taxation and information technology.
Candidates can appear for the CPT after class XII (10+2). Graduates can register directly to PCE (2nd stage).
After passing the PCE, candidates are eligible for registration as article/audit clerks ( trainee attached to a practicing CA), while continuing to study for the final exams.
Cost and Works Accounts (CWA)
Cost accounting requires understanding the role and aspects of cost and financial management to ensure a fine balance between expenditures and available resources. Functions of CWA/cost accountant involves collection, assimilation, collation, and analysis of financial information from all areas of an organization. They are involved in assessing the feasibility of projects and designing cost control and management system. The success or failure of the organization for which the cost accountant is working depends on the quality of information made available by him/her to the management. Cost accountants can facilitate strategic decisions in respect of diverse economic activities of an organization.
Services of CWA are required in-
1) Mandatory cost audit under Section 233 (B) of the Companies Act, 1956.
2) Certification under Export and Import Policy.
3) Excise audit as per Customs Act.
4) Consultancy Assignments/independent practice.
Members of ICWAI (Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) are absorbed as chairman, director, managing director, chief executive, general manager, finance manager etc. public and private sectors and government departments. There is an existing Cost Accountancy Service in central government named as Indian Cost Accounts Service, which is at par with the class I services of Govt. of India.
Course and examination
ICWAI, the nodal institute of Cost and Works Accountancy provides the training program for the course.
The course is divided into three stages- 1) Foundation, 2) Intermediate and 3) Final.
The subjects are broadly- basics of cost, cost determination, overheads, budgetary control, cash flow, financial analysis and control, management accounting, operation management, quality management.
Practical involve dissertation, seminar, computer training, modular training, industrial/audit training, business communication etc.
Candidate should be 10+2 and not less than 17 years of age to appear for the foundation course examination. Graduates can enroll for the intermediate course.
Company Secretary (CS)
CS is an in-house legal expert, responsible for all regulatory compliances of the company. An expert in corporate law, securities law and capital market and corporate governance, the CS plays the role of a mediator between the company, its board of directors, stakeholders, government and regulatory authorities. CS functions as corporate planner and strategic manager.
Services of CS are required in-
1)Under section383A of Companies Act, 1956, companies with a paid-up share capital of Rs. 5 crore or more are compulsorily required to appoint a whole time CS.
2)CS has been authorized to issue a certificate regarding compliance with conditions of Corporate Governance, as per Clause 49 of the Listing Agreement.
3) CS are empowered to appear before various tribunals such as the Company Law board, Securities Apellate Tribunal, MRTP Commission, Consumer Forum, Tax Tribunals etc.
4) Recently the RBI has recognized that practicing CS can undertake Diligence Reports for banks.
5) Practice independently
Course and examination
Institute of Company Secretaries of India ( ICSI) conducts the course and examination for company secretaryship. CS course has three stages- 1) Foundation program (8 months), 2) Executive Program and 3) Professional program.
The subjects of study are- General and commercial laws, tax laws, company law, economic and labor law, security laws, professional programming, company secretarial practice, international trade, strategic management, corporate restructuring, economics, statistics, business communication etc.
Along with the course students have to undergo various practical trainings, induction programs etc.
Candidates who have passed or appeared for their class XII examination can sit for the foundation course examination. Those who join the course after graduation can register for the second stage- the Executive program.
To achieve success in any of the above accounts courses you need to keep yourself updated on the current events, the national and international economic scenario, stock markets, company law matters, taxes and other general knowledge, by regularly reading relevant newspapers, books and journals. These are highly challenging but rewarding fields of work!