India chartered accountants eyeing work opportunities abroad will soon be spoilt for choice, with their nodal agency, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, negotiating with its counterparts in Canada, Singapore and Ireland to allow the professionals to take up assignments in these countries.
ICAI is in talks with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland, besides the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The negotiations will centre around foreign institutes accepting Indian professionals’ qualifications and opening doors to membership of ICAI’s counterparts overseas. “We are pursuing bilateral talks with the US. But our initial focus is on Canada, Ireland and Singapore,” said ICAI president Amarjit Chopra.
The negotiations may bear fruit within the next six months, he added. Two years ago, ICAI even signed memoranda of understanding with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA).
For professionals, the talks could be an opportunity to strike gold. Sameer Natu (37), head of finance for the rest of Europe at Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, bears this out. A CA from India, he has been working in London since 2002, but doors opened up for him following an MoU between ICAI and ICAEW in November 2008.
“Though an Indian CA can get jobs or contracts in the UK, having an ICAEW qualification definitely gives them an edge. It gives them a qualification which is locally as well as internationally recognised,” says Mr Natu.
The MoU allowed Indian CAs to seek senior positions in companies in the UK and made it easier for them to be ICAEW members. To qualify, they had to take just three examinations out of the mandatory 15.
“Due to my six years of work experience in India, I had to appear in only one paper and complete ICAEW’s structured training in ethics,” says Mr Natu. However, fresh CAs from India need to take three papers — business reporting, business change and a paper on case studies besides completing ICAEW’s structured training in ethics programme.
Besides the UK, the ICAEW membership will entitle an Indian CA to work in other EU countries and give them access to professional development programmes. Nearly 15,000 ICAEW members are currently working outside the UK, says Mr Natu. Likewise, ICAA of Australia requires Indian CAs to take papers on business strategy and leadership, and on corporate governance and accountability. ICAI members are making the best of these opportunities. Nearly 10% of ICAI members are already working abroad, says ICAI president Amarjit Chopra.
“Removing barriers for Indian members across markets through agreements such as these is an important part of ICAI’s international strategy,” says Mr Chopra.
Last year, over 2,000 CAs approached ICAI for ‘good standing’ certificates, which is a prerequisite for a membership with any accounting institute. In 2008, nearly 900 good standing certificates were issued by the institute. ICAI has over 6 lakh members in the country.