The Chartered Accountancy course in India is among the best of its kind in comparison to the courses offered in other countries. Also, it is rated as one of the most challenging professional course 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 practical training requirement (Articleship), is to ensure that the competent professionals who understand business, accounts and business laws and regulations carry the profession forward.
Significance of Practical Training in Article ship
Theoretical knowledge or practical knowledge alone cannot make a perfect professional. Both theoretical and practical aspects should go hand in hand along with communication/ presentation skills coupled with being technology savvy to become an extraordinary professional. Swimming cannot be learnt just by reading a book on how to swim, one has to actually jump into the water to learn swimming. The potential employers or established practitioners invariably examine whether the fresh Chartered Accountant has the conceptual clarity and more importantly knows how to apply the theory learnt in practical situations. The age old adage that – “Practice makes a man/ woman perfect” always holds well. 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 through practical training only that trainees accumulate experience in different areas and put themselves in such a commanding position as would enable them to demonstrate their competence to perform the role of professional accountants. Practical experience gained through practical training is considered necessary before candidates can present themselves to the public as professional accountants. Practical experience provides a professional environment in which trainees develop competence by enhancing their understanding of organizations, relating accounting work to other business functions, becoming aware of environment in which services are provided and so on. Training has an important role to play in CA Students career as whatever is learnt during this phase shall become part and parcel in the professional life. Importance of Practical training cannot be undermined in any way while pursuing professional course.
It is understood now that there are many factors contributing towards imbalance in practical training:
- Lack of seriousness about the importance of practical training on the part of many students- too much examination focus;
- Inadequate appreciation on the part of some members of their responsibility to impart comprehensive practical training;
- Absence of formal systematic program/ plan of practical training in most of the firms;
- Lack of proper environment to promote interaction amongst articled students in professional firms;
- Lack of awareness about the usefulness of the scheme of secondment for practical training including industrial training;
Responsibilities of Principal
Practical training would help the Principal in several ways. Principals can delegate work to the Article trainees and reduce their work pressure. Even by this practical training, a spirit of learning is inculcated in their firm and productivity of staff as a whole increases. The Principal has an interest in seeing that the trainee works effectively and contributes to the good of his practice. The success of any type of training program depends upon the firm as it is responsible for implementation of the program. It should be endeavor of the Principal to provide balanced and complete exposure by way of practical experience. Moreover, he could draw up a program of training for each trainee and also maintain training records to ascertain progress of his trainees. In designing the training program, the following components are to be considered simultaneously so as to make it meaningful:
- Categories of Work Experience
- In-House Theoretical Training
- Development of Professional Attitude
- Phasing of Training Program
The training program is to be planned properly to ensure that the above components are included therein. In order to supplement theoretical education, he could conduct periodic meetings with trainees to assess their knowledge of contemporary environment and preparation for examination. Trainees should attend relevant conferences, seminars etc. with the prior permission of his Principal.
Responsibilities of Articled Trainees
A student has to serve as an articled assistant for a period of three years under Regulation 50 of the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Regulations, 2006. Alternatively, a student can serve as an audit assistant for a period of 48 months under Regulation 70 of the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Regulations, 2006. A trainee can serve for 9 to 12 months during last year of practical training at final course level as an industrial trainee. In order to expose the trainees at large to multi- disciplinary work and variety of business situations, the arrangement of secondment has been provided in Regulation 54. The procedure relating to secondment enables an articled trainee to gain practical experience in areas where the Principal may not be in a position to provide the same, in the office of another member in practice on the basis of a mutually agreed arrangement. The aggregate period of secondment cannot exceed one year.
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. 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. A few questions often trouble the students: Why is the Articleship training so long? Why is it needed or required? Once we get through the examination we can get the experience why now? Some of the students are unable to understand the importance of Articleship training and they do not take it seriously. Either they think that it is a waste of time or they are more involved in their theoretical part of studies. Since we all aspire and work hard for a better career, it is not possible to make a career in Chartered Accountancy without proper practical training.
Two major career opportunities are available for the chartered accountants after completion of course, viz. Job and practice. If we talk about the first one, the pass certificate may at best give them interview letter but it is difficult to face the interview board and convince them of what they want – knowledge of problem solving ability. The experienced interviewers would assess the depth of knowledge or lack of it within no time.
Even if one gets a job, one may not be able to perform or deliver the desired results and their survival in organizations could be at stake. At the same time as far as practice is concerned, it is impossible to set up one without practical knowledge. Having understood the importance of practical training, a logical question arises as to where to do the Articleship? 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. 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. An incidental advantage is that the student would learn interpersonal skills of dealing with the peers, seniors, officers of clients. Further the students would be able to appreciate the need for taking the Information Technology Training as well as the General management and communication skill development training better knowing their importance in making one a complete Chartered Accountant.