Meet the Author – CA Neeraj Srivastava
Neeraj qualified as a CA in Nov 2021 and is currently working with Pwc as a SAP Consultant. He has completed his B. Com. from Mithibai College in 2019. Before PwC, he had a short stint with EY as a Tax Consultant in the BFSI Vertical (BFSI – Banking, Financial Services and Insurance).
Neeraj pursued his articleship from Ambavat Jain and Associates LLP, a mid-sized CA firm located in Mumbai as an associate in the firm’s Tax and Audit department. During his articleship, he worked in diverse areas such as direct tax advisory & compliance, transfer pricing, statutory audits, AS advisory, FEMA advisory and legal compliance.
As a person, he is quite inquisitive and loves to read – his favorite topics being stock markets, technology and space. One of his most prized possessions is his sense of humor! His hobbies also include swimming and running marathons. He aspires to be a writer one day.
The CA Articleship Puzzle!
Now that your exams are over, it’s time to take a short break and relax! You have worked quite hard during the past few months and now it’s time to rejuvenate. I spent my break by watching the movies that I had missed, catching up with friends, playing games on my computer and learning how to drive.
While I was enjoying my break, I did not realize what lied ahead was one of the most important decisions of my CA journey – Choosing my articleship firm!
Choosing the right firm is important due to the following reasons –
- Your articleship work timings and leave duration will directly impact your CA final studies.
- You will have to choose which line of work you want to pursue.
- Articleship teaches you various aspects about a CA’s job which the books don’t.
- Articleship experience counts when applying for your first job post qualification (i.e., after becoming a CA).
As soon as the results were out, I found myself amidst a mad rush of my peers for selecting a firm for CA articleship. While I was still figuring out the application process, some of my friends had already shortlisted firms and had started sending out their resumes. Now, all firms have limited number of vacancies, so naturally you have better chances of getting into the top firms if you apply earlier.
I was a bit nervous as I was quite far behind in the application process. By the time I prepared and sent out my resume, vacancies in many of the firms which I had shortlisted were already full. I felt that I would not get any good opportunity now. However, by a stroke of luck, I got an opportunity at a mid-sized CA Firm where I got to work in diverse areas. Around 60% of the work comprised of direct tax i.e., tax advisory, tax compliance and transfer pricing. The remaining 40% was a mix of statutory audits, AS advisory, FEMA advisory and routine corporate law compliances.
Few of my friends sent out their resumes much later than me. By then, most of the vacancies were filled and they did not get good options. Hence, it is advisable for you to utilize this break and start the prep before the results come out.
- Talk to people who are pursuing or have completed their articleship to get an idea of the application process and the various opportunities available.
- Prepare a resume and get it reviewed.
- Shortlist the firms where you would want to work at.
If you get a head start, it significantly increases your chances of getting into a good firm. Firms don’t wait to interview all the candidates who have passed during that attempt. Their target is to finish the hiring process as soon as they find the candidates which match their required criteria.
Now, the next big question is – how to choose the firm which is right for you?
This is not a simple decision which you can make in one day as there are a lot of factors to be considered. I remember, I was extremely confused when making this decision.
You don’t need to worry though! Based on my CA articleship experience and the experience of my friends working in different firms, I have tried to cover all the important factors which you should consider below. If you take them into account, you will surely make the right decision.
Let’s start by talking money! It is quite natural to be attracted towards firms offering a higher pay. When I learnt about the difference in pay between Big 4s and a mid-sized firm, I was very keen on landing a role at a Big4.
However, my professors helped me to realize an important fact – the main purpose of CA articleship is not to earn but to gain good work experience during these 3 years.
2. Area of Work
The Big 4s have separate departments for each line of service (direct tax, indirect tax, audit etc.). While you will have a much richer experience in terms of quality of work, you will get to work only in one department during the entire 3 years. At the end of 3 years, you will have specialized in your line of service.
Most mid-sized firms don’t function in departments, so you get to work in multiple areas. While you get a diverse work experience, you do not specialize in any field. At the end of 3 years, you will be the “Jack of all trades but master of none”.
Another difference is that in a mid-sized firm you get more chances to handle work and client interactions independently. This improves your decision making skills and also contributes towards your development as a professional.
The choice is quite subjective –
- If you want to pursue specialization, then you should go for a Big 4.
- If you are someone who wants a diverse experience, then you can go for a mid-sized firm.
- There is also a chance to switch firms after completing a year, so don’t worry nothing is set in stone. You could also work in a Big4 for a year and then switch to a mid-sized firm a year later to get the best of both. However, firms usually don’t prefer transfer cases so it’s better to avoid this option.
3. CA Final and Grad Exam Leaves
It is always advisable to discuss the leave policy during your interview. Usually, every firm offers a 4-month CA final study leave in addition to leaves for graduation exam days. It is not advisable to go for firms which offer less than 3.5 months of leave since you will get lesser time to prepare for your CA finals.
Be sure to frame your questions regarding the study leave smartly! You do not want to give the impression that you are someone who does not want to work hard.
4. Work hours
If you have regular grad college lectures you attend, then work hours is something you should consider. Otherwise, you should not consider workhours as a factor while evaluating firms. Articleship is meant to be a tough bout. All the struggle and hard work leads results in refinement of your professional character.
As I was also pursuing B. Com. from a college where 75% attendance was mandatory, I chose to look for a firm which had reasonable work hours.
If you choose to work in tax, then you won’t need to travel much for work. However, if you choose to work in auditing, you may have to travel outstation for work.
Outstation travel may seem attractive, but you may face conflict between work travel and attending your CA final classes and grad college. If grad college attendance is not an issue, you can have the option of going for pen-drive mode.
Also, if possible, choose a firm near your home or grad college so that you can save on travelling time. This becomes important during the third year of articleship when you will also have to attend CA final classes and do self-study.
6. Dummy Articleship
Opting for a dummy is absolutely not advisable. Articleship is a very enriching experience. It helps you to learn to apply text-book knowledge to real life scenarios. It is also considered important by interviewers while applying for jobs post qualification. If you do not have sufficient experience, you will have a tough time finding a good job even if you get a rank.
Even after considering the above points, you may find the firm selection process to be difficult. However, you now have the tools to navigate through the puzzle and will be able to make an informed decision.
Hope you found the blog to be helpful. All the best!
*Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of the people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual.