The Chartered Accountancy course in India entails three years of articleship which is to be pursued after clearing Group 1 of Intermediate and completing both ICITSS-ITT and ICITSS-OC. However, there are certain information that is not normally available. So, the not so common rules and information that I have found through my struggles during articleship. One has to also complete his/her MCS-advance IT and MCS-orientation course during articleship before appearing for CA final exams.
IMPORTANCE OF ARTICLESHIP IN YOUR CAREER
The Chartered Accountancy course in India is amongst the best of its kind in comparison to the courses offered in other countries. Also, it is rated as one of the most difficult professional courses among all other streams of education in the country. The reason for the above is the quality and values that the profession of Chartered Accountancy has, and which it wishes to retain. The vast curriculum, along with the rigorous practical training requirement (Articleship), is to ensure that the competent professionals carry the baton of the profession forward. Theoretical knowledge or practical knowledge alone cannot make a perfect professional. Both theoretical and practical aspects should go hand in hand to become an extra ordinary professional.
As swimming cannot be learnt just by reading a book on how to swim, one has to actually jump into the water to learn swimming, likewise just obtaining theoretical knowledge and writing examinations would not provide the results one would like to have. The potential employers invariably examine whether the CA has the conceptual clarity and more importantly knows how to apply the theory learnt. The disparity in the salaries offered at the campus highlight this difference. Practical training helps to inculcate a disciplined attitude for smart work and develops the necessary skill for the application of theoretical knowledge to practical situations. It is estimated that those students who apply what they learn in the work done [statutory/ internal audit, tax audit͙] as well as learn the theory behind what they have been would be greatly advantaged in their examination especially at the final level. Articleship is the golden period of a CA Student’s career. How a trainee undergoes it, would have an impact on what type of CA he/she is destined to become. Taking Articleship lightly would have an adverse impact on training and overall learning experience.
Where To Do Articleship ???
As per the current format of the curriculum, a student having completed first or both the groups of IPCC exams (Intermediate) is eligible to start his/her articleship, which is for a period of 3 years. The student can undergo his/her articles under a Practicing Chartered Accountant, or a Firm of Chartered Accountants, subject to the eligibility of the CA or the firm. Just like utmost care is taken by the parents to decide which school/college should the child study in, the decision of selecting a place to do articleship must be decided with utmost care too. This decision should not be taken based on the convenience that would be available to the student during his articleship, but should be based on the quality of the work that the student intends to learn.
Guidance/opinion can be sought from various seniors or students who have already done their articleship or are in process of completing it. Many a times the students decide to get registered for the articleship training under a known/relative practicing CA and chose not to actually undergo training. (Dummy Articles). In the view of the writer, apart from this not helping to gain any practical knowledge, this activity is not permissible by the institute and can cost the student his entire career. This article provides an insight about the various kinds of firms along with their features in which the prospect article would like to pursue his/her articles. The firms can be classified as:
If desired to work for a Big 4, the question that arises would be for which team to work. Big 4’s have various areas of practice. Audit & Assurance, Direct Taxes, Indirect Taxes, Internal Audit & Risk advisory services, Mergers & Acquisitions and many more. Since the student would be just starting his career, it would be very difficult for him/her to decide which area to work in. The area can be chosen based on the area of interest or an opinion can be sought from a senior. The area of work could also be chosen keeping in mind the subjects that the students have studied in IPCC. An area which the student thinks he/she had difficulty in studying could be chosen so that the fundamentals of that subject would become strong. The best feature about a big 4 is that the systems that are developed and implemented by them are the best of its class. Every activity/assignment has a process associated with it. The big 4’s have a prescribed system/code of going about with every activity. Since the systems are developed for every activity, the process of accomplishing the work becomes much easier and simple. This does not mean that the work as such becomes simple. But it helps to focus better on the said assignments than to plan out for how to go about with the assignment. The procedures in respect of documentation, reporting etc. are very substantiate but also very helpful. Another feature about working in big4’s would be that most of the tasks are assigned to and executed in teams. Working with teams having senior and experienced persons would help the students to articulate better knowledge and skills.
Big Firms :
A big firm would be one with a size of 10-20 partners. Though the size is big, it might not be as big as a Big 4. These firms also have a wide area of expertise which includes Audit, Taxation, and Internal Audit, etc. The only difference would be that these firms are not present globally and hence would be difficult to provide services for clients having multiple locations. Another advantage in these kinds of firm over big 4’s would be that the policies would not be so strict and as an article trainee, the article would be allowed to get trained in various teams as desired by him. Also, in these kinds of firms, the articled student would be getting a more variety of experience compared to the mid sized firms.
Mid Sized Firms:
The No. of partners in these kinds of firms may be between 1-10. A proprietary firm or a firm with 2- 3 partners could also be considered as a midsized firm considering the size of operations. Though, these firms would not have multi specialization services, they might be into:
In these firms a student would be exposed to all levels of work early; from basic verification to finalization in a short time. Also, the student may be able to handle the work independently within his,’ her articles completion. Each kind of firm has its own advantages. If a student has a particular area of interest and wishes to continue in that area as a career, then he,’she should choose to do articles in such a firm which is totally into one area of specialization. If a student is not very sure about what his area of interest is, it is preferable to join a midsized firm which is into general practice in all areas. The advantage in these kinds of midsized firms would be that the level of hierarchy would not be like the big firms. The article might have a chance to directly interact with the partner of the firm which would help him,’her in getting a more exposure in crucial areas. These kinds of firms may not have ready implemented systems or procedures to conduct their regular assignments, which would give a chance to the articles to apply their own mind and try to develop the systems as required. This would help them having a better problem solving techniques. The Institute has prescribed certain minimal stipend norms to the articled clerks which would be paid by any of the firms. However, many firms pay more than the prescribed norms depending upon the work and efforts put in by the student. However, in the opinion of the writer, the firm shall not be only based on the stipend that the firm is offering, since articleship period is as good as study period and remuneration shall not be made as the criteria
TERMINATION OF ARTICLESHIP:
In case the articled clerk has made a mistake in choosing the firm to work with, there is an opportunity to make good the mistake. The Institute has prescribed norms for taking transfers of articleship from one place to another only during the first year of articles subject to other conditions. In case the student is not satisfied or happy working in the place where he/she chose to work, they can take the benefit of transfers [within the 1st year] and accordingly choose another place to continue the articleship. If the firm is willing, secondment in the second/ third year can also be an option.
Transfer/Termination of articles are permitted without any restriction during the first year of articleship by submitting Form No. 109 to the institute.
PERMISSION TO STUDY OTHER COURSES:
Form 112 duly filled in and signed by the Articled Assistant to be submitted with the recommendation of the Principal.
Out of these 3 years of articleship,2 years of articleship are mandatorily required to be served under a chartered accountant in practice . However in the last year of training , a CA student may either continue his training under chartered accountant in practice or enroll himself for training under a chartered accountant in employment. Training under a chartered accountant in employment is called industrial training.
This is useful when one has to indulge in employment after qualifying CA .This is also useful for campus recruitment organized by ICAI.
However industrial training can be undertaken only during the last 1 year of Articleship and the period of Articleship Training shall be minimum of 9 months and maximum 12 months. (Although transfer during the articleship is allowed only during 1st year and not in 2nd or 3rd year , a student is allowed to take transfer in the 3rd year for the purpose of industrial training)
For this proper agreement is required between trainee and company employing such trainee and such agreement shall be submitted to institute in Form No. 104.
It is very clear, that the institute has made very good rules for providing training. However, many of the members in practice openly flout these rules – and the articled assistant has no way out except to change principal or suffers in ignorance. And anyway, there is no way out against whims of ones principal. The other problem is also the structure of training. ie many of the articles undergo graduation course – there is the pressure of the icai’s other eligibility criteria like finishing the computer training to be eligible for the exam.