Finance and Accounts – 13 Courses For A Better Career

Finance and Accounts – Courses

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Finance and Accounts is a specialised field. It contains within it, various technical specialities. Anyone who works in the finance and accounts area can at best do works relating to a few of such specialities. This is because, finance and accounts is a very vast and broad area and a single person cannot specialise in all such fields at the same time. This is true for other professional disciplines like the engineering and medicine.

Just as in medicine, an individual cannot really master all the various specialities, similarly an accounts and finance professional cannot specialise the different specialities contained in the field (I write this at the outset, because it is a huge misconception that prevails among people that account and finance is a single discipline). However compared to medicine (or other fields) where the line is clear with a graduate degree (eg. MBBS or B.Tech) and thereafter post graduation (MD or M.Tech) with specialisation, the path to finance profession is a bit complicated.

Table of Contents

  1. Chartered Accountancy
  2. MBA (Specialization Finance)
  3. Company Secretaryship
  4. Cost / Management Accountancy
  5. ACCA
  6. CISA
  7. CFA
  8. CIA
  9. CFE
  10. LLB
  11. Actuaries
  12. Statistics
  13. Engineering & Finance

Chartered Accountancy

This is considered the best route to the profession of accountancy and audit. CA enjoys huge popularity and prestige in the profession. The CA in various countries are backed by statutes, as they are the professionals who have the authority to sign the audit reports. In USA, it is called CPA (Certified Public Accountant, that is administered by AICPA). In different countries there are national level councils that oversee the CA profession. In India it is called Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). In England it is called Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW).

A CA can pursue his own independent profession. This means working as a professional auditor and also the works relating to consultancy viz tax and management consultancy. The tax consultancy in India is a huge field with a CA having the ability to represent his client in various issues relating to the direct and indirect taxes. Management consultancy includes raising loans, making project reports, due diligence, and mergers and aquisitions etc. In the industry, they mostly work in the area of Corporate Finance. However, the Chartered Accountants due to their professional training can fit into any discipline in the finance and accounts field. This may of course not hold true for the other courses.

MBA (Specialization Finance)

Master of Business Administration is the most popular course and also takes the least time. Usually this is a one and half to two year course and is administered by universities or private institutions. This scope of this course mostly lies in financial institutions and investment banks, forex markets etc.

The MBA course although having the same content as taught in various institutes, vastly differ in their estimation. Usually it is the ‘branded’ institutes that get away with the good placements. Some of the most popular ‘branded’ institutes include Harvard Business School, Yale, Stanford etc. In India it is the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management – IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Kolkata, IIM Bangalore). MBA course is perhaps the most costly of all the various courses relating to finance and accounts. However the career would basically depend on the nature of placement that the candidate is able to get after the course. MBA does not enjoy any statutory recognition.

Company Secretaryship

This course is mostly slanted towards law, mostly commercial law. This profession again enjoys statutory recognition. This profession deals with the statutory compliance of the various statutory provisions that a company has to follow. Areas like issue of shares, holding shareholders meeting, certifying compliance with various legal provisions by the company are the main domains in which these professionals work. In India this course is offered by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).

Cost / Management Accountancy

The Cost / Management Accountants are mostly related to works of factories and pricing of products. They are mostly employed by companies. In India the course is administered by Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI). In some instances Cost Accountants can also do independent practice, depending what are the statutory provisions in this regard prevailing in the country. The most popular international course in this regard is the CIMA (Certified Management Accountant) course; this course is administered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK). In USA also there is a corresponding course of CMA that is offered by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (USA).

ACCA

ACCA: This is what is known as ‘nut and bolt accountant’. This course is offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of UK. However this course is more slanted towards the industry rather than independent practice.

CISA

CISA: Certified Information System Auditor is a specialised course. It is not a degree, but a professional certification. It is administered by the Information System Audit and Control Association, USA. The main area of this is the audit of digitised financial and other records. This has an interface of Accounts/ Finance knowledge, Audit and most importantly computer and infotech knowledge. A corresponding course in India is the ISA (Information System Auditor) course that is offered by the ICAI. However certifications of CISA are useful for independent practice or when working with some consultancy firms. The companies often prefer to keep engineers for such works relating to data maintenance and computer technology.

CFA

CFA: Chartered Financial Analyst course is offered by the Association of Investment Management and Research (AIMR), USA. As the name goes, the focus of this is financial analysis. CFA is also higly regarded by the industry in the financial field. Banks, insurance industry and share/stock trading companies are the major areas of work.

CIA

CIA: Certified Internal Auditor course is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors of USA. The focus of this course is internal audit.

CFE

CFE: Certified Fraud Examiner. This course is offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and deals with areas of unearthing fraudulent financial transactions, fraud investigation, legal elements of financial frauds.

LLB

The law degree in the field of accounts and finance is important from the point of commercial law. Often companies hire law graduates to deal in cases relating to commercial law. However the main opportunities for law graduates in the field of accounts and finance is in the area of Practice by representing their clients in Courts for the commercial and tax law disputes, which is quite a fascinating field.

However given the current system in India, lawyers have an advantage in matters of tax as they can represent their clients in a Court of Law like High Court or Supreme Court. However most of the tax disputes are resolved in tax tribunals (both for direct and indirect taxes), and in these tribunals, Chartered Accountants and Company Secretaries can also represent their client on same footing as a lawyer.

Also when the proposed NTT (National Tax Tribunal) comes into existence – it would be the NTT that would deal cases in appeal from ITAT or CESTAT – and not the High Court. It has been provided that in the NTT, the Chartered Accountants and Comapany Secretaries would be able to represent their client on same footing as a lawyer. Apart from representational work, the Lawyers are also in demand with emergence of global trade and WTO regime – the requirements for those knowing patent law and for patent law attorneys for disputes arising from patent laws are in great demand – this also includes various advisory works and backend research jobs.

Actuaries

This is an area where those who have interest in mathematics and statistics would find quite satisfying. Actuaries is applied Maths/Stats in the field of Insurance and also in important areas like Risk Management. Insurance companies require Actuaries for the purpose of making of insurance policies. Also, qualified Actuaries can do independent practice, as often their certificates are required by companies who manage their own provident and pension funds.

Usually Insurance companies hire those who have passed three or four papers as Actuarial Assistant, and thereby such candidates can continue in work while they complete their qualification. Generally, the qualification for Actuarial sciences are administered by National Societies existing in different countries. The Actuarial Society of India (ASI) is the national body in India to conduct this course and award the certification. Actuaries are among the highest paid professionals in the finance sector.

Statistics

A degree in Statistics (M.Stats) is not directly related to finance or accounts. However, it has various business related applications. Consequently those from this field are grabbed up for areas like Market Research, Media Planning, Quality Management (TQM), and any other business process where there is lots of data to analyse.

Engineering & Finance

The finance world is no more a manual world – but an electronic and digitised world. Its natural that there would be requirements of engineers in the world of finance. Some engineers may decide to do mainstream finance courses like MBA or CWA. There have been instances, where from IIMs, those majoring in Finance, the companies have picked up those students who had engineering background. The reason is simple – engineers by training have a logical mind. Particularly in the financial sector where investment portfolios and mutual fund investments are no more just mere economic theory – but complex mathematical modelling – engineers are a better choice – as that brings efficiency (and also returns) to the investors.

But even apart from this, there are areas like ERP implementation (different platforms like SAP, Oracle etc) – which is very remunerative field – and requires around two months of training / certification. Then there is CISSP certification. As most of the financial sector works on computer system – the CISSP is the security expert of the Information System. CISSP is similar to CISA, but technically much ahead of it.

And then there is hardcore engineering field like maintenance of hardware and softwares in places like Stock Exchanges. Or maintenance of the financial infrastructure like Computer systems / Databases / Networks in Banks, Insurance and other Corporate Organisations.

Conclusion:

The above courses cannot be easily classified into the usual educational stream. Some of the courses like the CA and Company Secretaryship etc. are considered equivalent to post graduation in some countries/ universities, thereby making them eligible for research and a PhD. However many others are certification that holds good only when one is really serious of pursuing the particular line (eg. CISA).

Often these various courses are life-long pursuit in the sense that these finance/ accounts professionals have to fulfil requirements of CPE (continuing and professional education) annually by attending certain hours to lectures and classes that update the members with the latest developments in the professional field. Courses like CA and CISA etc. come in this category.

© Anup Mukherjee

You may like to read: Accounting Discipline: Easy Conceptual Summary

25 thoughts on “Finance and Accounts – 13 Courses For A Better Career

  1. sir
    i am 29 year old i am presently unemployed i had finished my m.c.s (master of corporate secretaryship) and now i want to join icai. is it advisable for me to join this professional course and at the time of completion would i get job at that age. please explain in detail.

    1. I would say – look at it this way – you are 29 – and how many years of productive life you have – lets say – you would lead active life till you are 70 years – so you still have 41 years of active life!

      Secondly, since your present qualification has not led you anywhere – its definitely time to re-skill. If you are interested in doing CA, you are quite young!

      I understand you are already familiar with corporate laws through your existing degrees. However, you must remember that these professional courses CA/CWA/CS are not easy – and many do not finish it. But these are also not difficult for those who want to put in hard work.

      Both CA & CWA today require articleship of three years (CWA can do industrial training from day one, and their prescribed stipend is also much more than CA trainee).

      The CA articleship is pretty tough. I can well say – that none of the articles undergoing training are ever happy! However its this hard work that prepares them for the career ahead.

      The good thing with CA is that none of the CA is ever unemployed! The reason is that they can set their own Practice. The practice may take a few years to set up – but then nearly all do well – some better than others.

      If you are after employment – many times it has been seen that if some article has really done well during his training, then his principal makes him a partner in his firm! If its very big firm, one can get employed in such firm.

      However, if you want employment in some ‘brand’ Corporate – then perhaps your age would be a hindrance. These corporates invariably would seek trainees who are below 25! Just because someone is CA, it does not mean they would make you the boss – you have to join any organisation as a trainee. And the companies may not prefer someone who is 35 to join as trainee. (May be some private limited company, whose owner you know may employ you at that age – but hardly would any ‘brand corporate’)

      So think about your options carefully. Only if you are ready to put up hard work – and think yourself suitable for such career, that you join the relevant course.

      In alternate try to analyse your weakness / limitation, consult some placement agencies of what kind of career is on offer with your current profile. Good Luck.

  2. Why on earth would you not discuss information on the value of quickly coming to grips with IFRS training particularly as it compares to American GAAP?

  3. Do CA , After 1 or 2 years situation will change According to report ( American jobs council ,UK accountancy ,EU accountancy)Indian CA’s will be higher paid CA’s in the world with many fold increase in demand for them and fresher CA,s would get around minimum 10-12 Lac package,there would be hiring spree for Indian CA,s, will be in much great demand therefore many foreign students r also trying to get this professional course ,it will be highest paid Accountancy professional course in the world and they would be immense scarcity of CA’s

  4. i am 19yrs old.at present am in bcom2nd yr. i am intrested in accounts and finance.please give some details about ICWA ,CFA and CS. what qualification requried and what is the procedure of all these courses.

      1. sir i read.bt i cant get information about CFA .and what is procedure of doing it.please provide me some details

  5. i am 20 years old and i am doing bachelor of accounting and finance degree and i an in last year i.e third year after this i want to do a profesional course in the field of finance in india is any profesional course is there in india that is wholly related to finance and if not then what profesional i should do that is recognised in india like CA or CS or ICWA
    PLEASE DO REPLY
    EGARLY WAITING FOR REPLY

    1. There is MBA (Finance) – and there is long list of B Schools that offer it. There was a CFA offered by ICFAI, but I am not updated on it. They had kind of merged it with MBA (Finance) – refer to their website for details. Besides there are lots of short term specialised course that are offered by B Schools like in Forex Management,Security Analysis etc.

      But finance is a vast field. Even Law graduates from NLSI are taken for high paying jobs in finance / compliance / legal support.

      The point is not as to what course is available. The point is what you want to do after your studies. Your studies should match your career aspirations – not the other way round.

    2. sir , thank you for your reply .
      But i wanted to know that can i do CS without leaving a job ?
      i have given my TY(BAF) semester 6 exam and i want to register for CS executive
      now
      PLEASE DO REPLY SIR,
      EGARLY WAITING FOR REPLY

      1. sir , if i do company secretary course by taking admission in college is better or its better to do by correspondence?
        sir, because in my college the cs course is started before one year and there are faculty coming to teach
        SIR PLEASE DO REPLY
        EAGERLY WAITING FOR YOUR REPLY…

        1. Quite difficult to understand what you are asking. CS is correspondence. However, if there is coaching facility, its well and good.

  6. Dear Sir,

    I have completed my graduation with BCCA (B.com with computer application) and PG with MCM (Master of computer management). Also i am working in account filed from last 2 years and want to make my career in the same field. Kindly suggest me some professional course which will help me to grow up.

    Thanks

  7. Sir,i found out from ICAI that its necesarry to pay RS10000,towards final registration in order to get registered for artilceship. But i thought its not mandatory and didn’t pay it and started doing my artilceship and after 3 months from joining i took termination too. Now i found that i am not at all registered in order to get terminated. Now if i join from else where paying the amount will my 1st 103 form be considered? How to cancel the previous registration in such case?

    1. No one expects termination so quickly. When one starts articleship after passing both group, then ICAI requires one to register for Finals as well. Without that finals fee they dont register articleship. So by rules, you have not started articleship & your 109 is void.

      The only way to restore your three months is to continue with the same Principal – else even those three months are gone.

  8. Sir, i am pursuing bba 2nd year and i want to do some short duration certified course releated to finance and accounts so that after the completion of the program i can get job in my final year of bba, presently i am very much confused for which course should i opt for, please suggest me soon eagerly waiting for the reply.

    1. Instead of short term course, better join service in some company. Experience would count more. In the area of finance / accounts its professional qualifications that have more weight.

      And if you can do basic accounting on computer, you can get job – you dont need any certificate as such for that.

  9. Sir, i am 18 years old and will be completing my 12th this year.
    I am interested in accounts but dont want to opt for CA. Could u please suggest the next best course i could persue?

  10. Sir, iam 19 year old and i have attempted twice in cpt(ca foundation) in both attempt i have failed in maths , and iam not intrested in ca any more.. Sir please tell me about the course which is similar to ca with out maths.
    And which course i want to join now
    Thank you

    1. Finance and accounts courses are about number crunching. Any Finance or Accounts course will have good input of mathematics and areas like Operational Research. If you think Maths is not your area, then you should find non technical course.

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