We spend so much time focusing on completing the degree that it is very natural that we have not thought beyond getting the “CA” tag to our name!
But once we do get the tag, we are completely clueless. From my own personal experience, I want to let all freshly cleared CA’s know that this is very normal but making the right decision at this crucial junction in your life will help you save a lot of time in trial and error in the future.
A couple of general but exceptionally important tips:
Running after the highest paying option will not always pan out well. Always chose what interests you because you will always find a way to make more money in it as your mental health is also equally important.
Do not follow the “fad” option which follows every attempt. Choose what will help you achieve the goals you have set for you.
Do not rush into anything. Evaluate all your options, take a couple of months to decide. It is better than you waste years on the wrong choice.
These are the options available:
1. Starting your own Practice:
Very few people are considering this option nowadays, because of the immense competition, negligible earning prospects for the first couple of years and taking boring projects which do not interest you just to generate revenue. But this is yet a good option for CA’s who have an entrepreneurship spirit, find all CA related work interesting and may have good leadership and client acquiring qualities. With the right qualities this can be a successful career and you get to be your own boss!
*You can start a specialized practice too if you have the right connections for example tax advisory practice.
2. Joining a small or mid-size CA Firm:
For someone who wants to climb the ladder fast and for whom work life balance is important, this can be an option for you. This allows you greater flexibility in timings. Also switching job profiles is easier. For example, if you have been doing Statutory Audits for couple of years and you are tired of it, switching to another field is easier as the levels of approvals are less rigid as compared to working in a large entity.
3. Joining a Big 4 or a large CA Firm:
For someone who likes the fast-paced corporate life this is the job for you. The pay is decent, but the work hours are long. Your job profile is extremely specific here, but you get to work with big clients and the exposure and networking is amazing. They also give various incentives for pursuing higher studies which I think is great as along with working you can pursue qualifications which help you get promotions faster and that too for free!
4. Joining the Industry:
Choosing to work in Industry largely depends on the nature of Industry you choose. Couple of popular industries are:
Investment Banking: This option is widely popular in the current times. Everyone I seem to talk to these days have their mind set to pursue this. If this is what interests you this is a very good option monetarily as well. But the problem is a lot of these companies or banks want an MBA or doing qualification hence if this is your dream job pursuing MBA will make your chances brighter. Even getting a CFA certification can help you out here.
Consulting & Advisory Roles: This stream is also getting a lot of attention from freshly qualified CA's. The pay is good but this again is a very niche market and having an MBA will give you an advantage.
Public Sector: The pay is amazing and there is work life balance too. But the only problem is that they are very selective in whom they choose. You need to have an extremely good score to bag a job with a PSU.
Financial Services: Working in Banks and other financial services companies is also really catching up. If your interests lie here this is a good option. The pay is amazing but the work hours can be taxing. Doing FRM along with your job is a good option.
Other Sectors: Overall working in the industry will always give you a better pay in the start as compared to working in a big 4 or a traditional CA practice. This is a very good option for someone who prefers to do a job over starting something of their own.
For CA’s who have a passion for teaching and are good with verbalizing what they have studied this is the way to go. The Education sector is growing at a very fast rate, though work timings can be a little odd, the pay and the passion to teach will make up for it.
6. Study Further Full time:
There are various courses which will add weight to your already heavy CA degree.
MBA: This is again an extremely popular option. Getting an MBA is a particularly good option for people seeking a further job opportunity in fields which do not have a clear entry for CA’s. An MBA from one of the top 10 universities will make a huge difference otherwise its not a good option.
Masters: Many people decide to do master’s in finance from abroad. This can be helpful for people who might be seeking a job overseas.
7. Study Further Along with Work:
Company Secretary: If an organization’s legal and financial aspects is what interests you then adding CS knowledge is a good idea. This is usually undertaken by CAs who want to start their own practice, so they get an overall view of the business.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): If working in the US or if your dream job requires you to have US GAAP related experience then CPA is a good option post CA. It is relatively easier and only the US Laws require a little attention while studying.
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): If a global career in accounting is what you dream of where your degree will be recognized in many countries then this is the future qualification you can plan to pursue. Over and above that you get exemption in 9 papers out of 13.
Law: If legal and compliance services is something which you want to take up in detail then pursuing LL.B is a good option. Law covered in CA is not very deep hence doing an LL.B will give you an advantage in strong legal knowledge related profiles.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): If Financial Markets, Investment analysis and Portfolio Management is something which interests you then you can pursue this. It is an expensive certification but is immensely helpful and will help to boost your career if investment banking or investing services is what you see yourself do in the future.
Financial Risk Manager (FRM): This is a recommended certification for those who seek a career in risk management for example in Treasury Departments in banks etc.
There are many more career and further study options which I have not mentioned, But these are entirely my personal views. I hope this helps you in making this critical life decision!