The New Year brings in good news for independent finance professionals like company secretaries, chartered accountants and cost & works accountants, who will be allowed to advertise their services and area of proficiency, a move that would enable them to offer services globally and effectively highlight their areas of competence.
While practising company secretaries would be allowed to advertise their services from January 1 itself, for the chartered accountants and cost accountants it is not likely before April as the matter has to get approval by their respective governing bodies.
“It is a big step for practising professionals. The freedom to advertise services and area of proficiency will give them a big opportunity to grow,” Preeti Malhotra, president of Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), told TOI .
Malhotra said so far the finance professionals were not allowed to “solicit” clients but amendments made in their respective statutes paved the way for the liberalisation that would see them advertise in newspapers, television, journals or on the internet through a website.
Elaborating on the benefits, she said, “For example, company secretaries today have proficiency in areas like joint ventures, solvency issues, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets etc. But they cannot inform their potential clients, including those based overseas, about this. This move will give them freedom to do so and will in fact help fresh professionals who can use it as an opportunity to get business,” she said.
Sunil Talati, president of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), said CAs could be given similar freedom by April this year.
“We are working on it. The main issues we are studying is to see to what extent we should allow the professionals to advertise and also what can be allowed in the content. This needs to be well-drafted, ” he said, pointing out that a draft exposure had already been prepared on the subject and a clearance could be expected by April.
Chander Wadhwa, president of the Institute of Cost and Works Accouantants of India, said the profession’s governing body was working on the matter and it was likely to be cleared by April.
The move may not only encourage more and more professionals take up independent practice, especially company secretaries and cost accountants, but also give Indian professionals an avenue to highlight their proficiency in an effective manner, globally.
As per the guidelines issued by the ICSI, company secretaries have to strictly adhere to dos and dont’s and any deviation would amount to professional misconduct attracting disciplinary proceedings.
Information permitted to be advertised can include the professional’ s name, contact details, fee estimate, names of clients and services rendered, speed of service and additional recognised qualifications. However, the freedom comes with a set of restrictions that include not putting out false or misleading information, not claim superiority over other professionals and importantly, not refer to themselves as specialists or experts, Malhotra said.