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This article is written by Ms. Somya Jain, from the Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies. The article establishes a detailed study on the career prospects of an Indian Chartered Accountant in foreign countries. 

Introduction

Are you interested in pursuing the path to become a Chartered Accountant? Are you confused about the future prospects available for an Indian CA? Considering the option to practice in the field of CA in a foreign country? Well, look no further. This article covers the entire gist of your future aspirations and goals related to Chartered Accountancy. 

Chartered Accountancy, being a professional degree, is one of the most favourable professions of many students because of the prospering ability inherited by it. This profession has gained prominence not just in India, but abroad as well. It has grown multi-fold, thereby broadening the budding avenues in the domain within and beyond the national boundaries. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (hereinafter called ICAI)  has entered into a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a number of International Accounting Bodies that enabled the members of the Institute to practice the profession in the concerned country. This has helped India to tap the budding opportunities and provides a platform for growth and expansion. In order to exploit such extensive opportunities, one needs to understand the various prospects that are available for the same. 

Career prospects for an Indian CA 

The course of Chartered Accountant has a wide-ranging scope of practice which includes areas like accounting, auditing, corporate finance, corporate laws and taxation. While every other firm, globally, has revolutionised its accounting management, these firms consider it essential to hire a CA to assist them in improving the company’s resources and at the same time increase their efficiency along with achieving their goals. This has led to an expansion in the limited practice areas of CA. 

Since the ambit of the practice of a CA is no longer limited to its traditional pursuits, the employment option has also been extended. Various employment opportunities that can be seen are:

  • Working as an independent practitioner
  • Chartered Accountant firms
  • Capital marketing services
  • Consultancy companies
  • Financial companies
  • Large diversified companies including multinational corporations and the Big-4
  • Public and private sector banks
  • Public limited companies
  • Auditing firms
  • Stockbroking firms
  • Investment houses
  • Legal firms
  • Patent firms
  • Portfolio management companies

The above list stipulates some of the employment options that can be opted by the students and CAs. With the advancement of the economy and the development of society, the roles performed by a CA professional have been upgraded in accordance with the requirements. Considering the global perspective, some of the roles that have attained growing relevance in recent times are:

  • Internal Auditor
  • Tax Auditor
  • Forensic Auditor
  • Statutory Auditor
  • Share Valuer
  • Financial Reporter
  • Management and Corporate Consultancy 
  • Tax Advisor (both international tax and domestic tax)
  • Management Accountant 
  • Cost Accountant
  • Company Liquidator
  • Corporate Financing

While some roles mentioned above have specific tasks that CAs are expected to perform, others include multiple roles that can be performed by CAs. These include:

  1. Financial Accountant– The expected roles are:
  • Operate account 
  • Do internal audits
  • Deal with salaries & wages of the employees 
  • Tax management 
  • Accounts payment and invoice dispensation
  1. Cost Accountant– A CA is expected to perform tasks like:
  • Budgeting & budgetary control
  • Forecasting
  • Tracking expenditure to ensure that costs are under control
  1. Tax manager– The roles performed by them are:
  • Optimizing the financial structure with greater efficiency
  • Tax implications of new policies
  • Alters company’s financial structure 
  • Advisory role on the tax implications and the performance objectives 
  1. Auditor– The tasks performed by an auditor include:
  • Monitor internal management processes and controls
  • Accuracy of records
  • Adherence to corporate policies & procedures
  • Checks the tax liability of the taxpayer
  1. Consultant– The role of the consultant includes:
  • Inspection of share valuation for takeovers, issue of capital shares, unification with other organizations.
  • Secretarial practice & processes
  • Corporate law advice about company’s structure, liquidation and financial facets
  • Project agenda & advice on financial resource
  • Recommendations on business expansion, profit enhancement, joint venture programmes and so on

In addition to the fundamental roles played by a CA, other essential roles would include planning & financial strategies, governing pension, funds & long-term investments, controlling the prospective investments, unification or takeover, planning syllabuses for share issues, etc.

With such vast avenues of career prospects, choosing CA would definitely be considered a reasonable and viable option. Tapping these unexplored areas of the CA profession would nonetheless be quintessential in the arena of finance and the corporate world.  

Countries providing professional opportunities to Indian CAs

The professional course of Chartered Accountant has been widely accepted by many countries. As far as the degree obtained by a CA professional is concerned, foreign countries that have either entered into a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India would provide the members registered with ICAI to practice in the respective countries in accordance to their terms and conditions. This does not conclude that an Indian CA would only be able to practice in these recognised countries. The countries that have not entered into any agreement with India, allow people to consider the option of CA only after fulfilling the prerequisites for the same in their home countries like passing their notified exams. In many unrecognised countries, such criteria involve attempting their respective papers. However, there can be exemptions that can be provided to the Indian members in these countries. The CA intermediate certificate under ICAI is equivalent to Emirates level seven. 

With the broad objective of the Institute to expand the opportunities for professionals in the foreign jurisdiction, the Institute has a global presence in 36 overseas chapters and 17 representative offices across the globe. This has, however, not limited the scope of proliferating the object of a global presence as the Institute continues to make efforts to observe the same. Let us discuss some of the countries that have recently signed agreements with India to provide career opportunities to Indian Chartered Accountants.

Middle East Countries

Kenya

  • The ICAI has signed the MoU with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) in January 2019. 
  • It supports the development of the accountancy profession through capacity building initiatives and promotes its sustainable development.
  • The members have to mandatorily get them registered under ICPAK to become eligible to practice in Kenya.
  • Members of ICAI are employed as financial controllers, auditors, tax/corporate advisors, financial/ management consultants, corporate recovery etc. 
  • Members are also empowered to work as independent practitioners. 
  • There are various Indian owned businesses and audit firms that are established in Kenya which will boost employment opportunities for the members of ICAI. 
  • Since the Companies Act of India is similar to that of Kenya, members do not have to struggle much to start their practice immediately on receiving the work permit. 
  • The opportunities are favourable to freshers as well as experienced CAs.

Kuwait

  • The ICAI has signed the MoU with the Kuwait Association of Accountants and Auditors (KAAA) in 2019.
  • The objective is to strengthen the accounting, financial and audit knowledge base in Kuwait.
  • Greater opportunities are provided to fresh Chartered Accountants in both large and mid-size accounting firms as compared to practising CAs.
  • In Kuwait, CAs are well reputed and are well established in top-tier organisations and banks.
  • Various roles that are prominent among the CA group include Finance Manager, CFO, CEO, Financial Analysts, etc.

Oman

  • Recently, the ICAI has renewed its MoU with the College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS), Oman.
  • Some major positions in the finance sector have been occupied by the Indian citizens in Oman.
  • The members of ICAI occupy senior positions in various private, public and government sectors in Oman.
  • Indian CAs majorly prefer Oman and UAE for their career prospects due to the rising demand for CAs in these places. 
  • CBFS also regularly conduct professional seminars, conferences, panel discussions, certificate courses etc. to enhance the knowledge of the professionals. 

Qatar

  • The Doha chapter in Qatar is affiliated with the Indian Embassy in Qatar and is registered under Qatar Financial Center (QFC) laws
  • The industries that require the expertise of a Chartered Accountant include oil and gas, construction, retail and infrastructure sectors. 
  • Local conglomerates also provide career prospects to Indian CAs.
  • With the technological advancements, companies in Qatar are looking for professionals who are well versed with soft skills to complement the new working system. 

Saudi Arabia

  • The ICAI entered into the MoU and later renewed the same with the Saudi Organisation for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA) in Saudi Arabia.
  • It promotes mutual cooperation in the areas of corporate governance, technical research and advice, quality assurance, forensic accounting, issues for Small and Medium-sized Practices (SMPs), Islamic finance, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other subjects of mutual interest related to the accountancy profession.
  • While considering the role of Indian CA in small or mid-tier companies, finance managers and finance controllers are the most common.
  • As far as large corporations are concerned, opportunities exist from lower-level like Finance Executive for fresh Chartered Accountants to Chief Accountant to Assistant Finance Manager to Finance Manager to CFO at higher levels.
  • However, there are some preferences given to those having prior experience of a large accounting firm, experience in the Middle East, or experience in banks. 
  • For being recognised as a Certified Public Accountant under SOCPA, the applicant should be a Saudi national. Indian Chartered Accountants can be partners in big firms without having any signing authority. 

Tanzania

  • The ICAI has signed the MoU with the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), Tanzania in 2018. 
  • To practice as auditors, accountants or tax consultants, formal approval and registration is required from NBAA. 
  • For practising as a tax consultant, additional registration with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is required. 
  • Some of the ideal employment opportunities opted by the members of ICAI include the application of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to accounting, multiple currency accounting, foreign currency translation problems etc.
  • The prospective changes in the tax regime, licensing of the foreign banks, floating exchange rate, creating investment promotion centres etc. has further expanded the opportunities for CAs to showcase their expertise. 

UAE

  • The ICAI has been able to renew the MoU with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 
  • UAE has provided Indian CAs with wide-ranging employment opportunities in firms as well as boosted the setting up of businesses.
  • Big firms usually hire 100-200 Indian CAs every year in accordance with the requirements.
  • As far as mid-tier firms are concerned, they hire around 15-30 fresh Chartered Accountants every year.
  • A strong trend along with robust relations with the UAE has enormously contributed in escalating the employment opportunities for the members of ICAI. 

Bahrain

  • The ICAI signed the MoU with the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) in 2018. 
  • Bahrain lacks a local professional accountancy institution and since ICAI is in collaboration with it, Bahrain is desirous to obtain the proficiency and assistance of ICAI members in developing its own nationals in the field of accounting and finance. This paves way for immense career opportunities for a CA. 
  • Many renowned international firms find their way in the Kingdom that, in turn, provides ample opportunities to Indian Chartered Accountants to get themselves employed under these firms.
  • For an expatriate to establish an audit firm, several prerequisites have to be satisfied as it is regulated by the Ministry of Commerce. 
  • One of the major requirements is that the expatriate professional should collaborate with a local professional to incorporate an audit firm. 

Asia

Hong Kong

  • By virtue of being a member of the International Federation of Accountants, the ICAI has been admitted as an International Affiliate of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
  • The members of ICAI enjoy the same level of rights as enjoyed by the members of HKICPA. However, they are prohibited from practising the right to be elected to the Institute’s Council, vote at Council elections, attend the Institute’s general meetings and the right to be registered as a voter.
  • Fortunately, there is a probability that the ICAI would secure a Reciprocal Membership Agreement or a Mutual Recognition Agreement to avoid all the discrepancies. 
  • Apart from the financial sectors, CAs in Hong Kong have explored other avenues like IT, HR, digital advertising and legal firms.
  • As far as industrial training is concerned, it is completely domestic as they do not permit student/ employment visas for these kinds of purposes.

Singapore

  • An MRA between ICAI and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants is on the verge of being recognised under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  • For an applicant to be eligible for the Singapore CA foundation programme, one should bear the accredited degree or undergraduate degree.
  • For people who are eligible for direct entry to the professional programme, they should have a local accountancy degree from a recognised Singapore University.
  • With a low labour force and a considerable presence of MNCs, Singapore can be considered as a prospering hub providing opportunities in accounting, finance business partnering, banking and treasury, financial analysis etc. 
  • Additionally, due to the change in the tax regime and incorporating GST, demand for compliance and accounting roles have boosted up.

Australia and New Zealand

  • The ICAI has entered into a mutual agreement with CA Australia and New Zealand to recognise each other’s qualifications. 
  • In order to obtain the membership of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), the members have to take the CAPSTONE module. 
  • One can also appear for a 2-day pilot workshop and complete 40 hours of self-study to receive the membership of the CA ANZ.   
  • The avenues undertaken by the members of ICAI include the banking sector, financial analysis, planning, credit, audit, and accounting operations.
  • It further provides an opportunity for Relationship Management (RM) roles in SME banking, Corporate Banking, Wholesale banking etc. to the ICAI members.
  • The members are prevented from practising independently. However, they can form part of the corporate houses and firms. 

Europe

Netherlands

  • Even though no formal agreement has been entered into by the ICAI and the Netherlands Chapter, yet the companies prefer to hire Indian CA for the roles not restricting to accounting, taxation, audit, treasury and banking.
  • The companies, however, prefer to provide opportunities to those who have gained prior experience in the field rather than freshers. 

North America

Canada

  • The ICAI has entered into an MoU with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) which was later replaced by an MoU between the ICAI and the CPA Canada.
  • This simplified the complexities underlying the previous system. Now, the members of ICAI interested in obtaining a membership should have the requisite experience to become eligible for exemptions from practical training requirements of CPA Canada as well as appearing in the CPA exam in Canada. By merely passing the 3-day Common Final Examination (CFE), a person can attain membership.
  • With constant growth, the opportunities for employment have extended to both public and the private sector. 
  • Since the skills acquired by an Indian CA is similar to the skills acquired by a Canadian CA, the most opted choices for career prospects remain the roles of CEO, president, CFO, treasurer, consultant, controller, tax auditors, policy planners and financial analysts.
  • Other types of assistance provided by CAs to their clients include startup counselling, purchase and sale of a business, business valuations, business planning and financial projections etc. 

USA

  • India does not have any recognition agreement with the USA and therefore, it becomes necessary for an interested candidate to give all the exams in order to obtain a CPA degree under the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Most accounting firms recognise a CA degree equivalent to that of a CPA degree. However, some companies hire only a CPA professional for tax and assurance roles.
  • An Indian CA can work as an auditor/ tax intern/ accountant for a CPA firm or as a finance professional for any financial institution or within any company that needs a finance division.
  • A CA can become an independent consultant as well thereby assisting businesses to maintain their books, budgets, obtaining loan financing through writing business plans, etc.
  • If a professional does not have any licence or legal status but is capable of rendering services, he/she may tie up with a CPA firm in the US. 
  • Indian CAs can work with Indian companies abroad or foreign countries that have operations in India.

United Kingdom

Below is the table that illustrates the various agreements which are entered into by India. 

Qualification Reciprocal Agreements
IRELANDMRA with CPA IrelandENGLAND & WAlESMoU with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)CANADAMoU with CPA Canada
SOUTH AFRICAMRA with the South Africa Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)NepalMRA with Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN)AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALANDMoU with Chartered Accountants – Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ )*
MalaysiaMRA with Malaysian Institute Of Certified Public Accountants*AUSTRALIAMRA with CPA Australia* 
Agreements for Technical Cooperation
SAUDI ARABIAMoU with Saudi Organisation for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA)KENYAMoU with Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK)NEPALMoU with Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN)
TANZANIAMoU with National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), TanzaniaBAHRAINMoU with the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF), BahrainKUWAITMoU with KAAA, Kuwait
OMANMoU with ICAI and College of Banking & Financial Studies (CBFS), OmanNETHERLANDSMoU with VRC, the Netherlands*PAPUA NEW GUINEAMoU with CPA PNG*
DubaiMoU with HCT Dubai**AFGHANISTANMoU with CPA Afghanistan** 

All Black marked are Active MoU/MRA

(* Awaiting clearances from government authorities)

(** Pending for Signing)

A flourishing industry with an affirmative growth

The ICAI has so far been successful in tapping some of the most handsome employment opportunities for the members. The results were visible not only domestically but even internationally. Many countries have now recognised its qualification ties with that of India. This has led to the removal of professional barriers and allowed the members to explore the vast avenues available to them. 

Growing industry

  • There have been a total of around 13,000 members who have settled abroad and among them, around 3200 members have the certificate of practice. 
  • The demographic distribution of the members of ICAI has been spread throughout. It can be seen in the below representation. 
  • UAE and the other Middle East countries have the largest resource of oil and gas and it contributes more than half of the entire GDP of the UAE. With recent developments in the oil sector, these countries have established a growing demand for Chartered Accountants.
  • The robust relations between India and the USA has led to the establishment of various opportunities within the country. The IT sector in the USA is the most supported sector by the Indian nation as major outsourcing of US IT services are through India due to efficient workforce.
  • Kenya is a major tourist spot and attracts a large population thereby, promulgating the ever-growing career prospects. 
  • Hong Kong has established a business-friendly environment characterized by free trade, a mature financial regulatory regime and a legal system.
  • Australia, though being the 6th largest nation population-wise, faces a shortage of professionals for performing tasks in auditing and advisory roles. This calls for a blooming demand for professionals like CA.  
  • With the constant change in the tax regime, VAT implications, foreign exchange, licencing schemes and promotional activities, the demand for Chartered Accountants is on the rise. 

Salary expectations

  • While working independently, a Chartered Accountant’s salary will be determined according to its services. 
  • As far as working in corporate firms are concerned, foreign countries can pay handsomely to CAs.
  • Interestingly, the highest salary package according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), most accountants or auditors earned money from $ 40,370 up to $ 113,740.

Conclusion

With the developing economy, the growth of future prospects and job opportunities have taken an upstage. Every firm and corporation has recognised the importance of structuring and planning their financial sector to strengthen the core of the business. Right from startups to the Big-4 or the MNCs, each company understands the negative implications that would be faced by their companies on account of failure to satisfy the various financial compliances. In addition to this, the dynamic industries in the world, now and then, introduce new avenues that are readily available to be explored. Such affirmative prospects not only proliferate one’s salary expectations but also ensure growth in their career. Thus, pursuing CA can prove to be one of the best career options of all time.

References


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