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Demand for CAs is very high
April, 30th 2007
We always search for a proper blend of theoretical education and practical training. Our examination system emphasises the practical knowledge component. Students perform better in examination with practical knowledge. We strongly feel that the new generation will contribute in the growth and development of the profession.

MR SUNIL TALATI, president, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Towards the end of 2006, the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) launched CPT (Common Proficiency Test), as part of a new curriculum. Designed as a quarterly entrance exam, CPT is an objective test, with questions covering accountancy, mercantile law, economics and quantitative techniques.

The CPT scheme allows students who have passed Class 10 to register with the ICAI's Board of Studies, collect the study package, and prepare for the test, while at the same time pursuing Plus 2. Post Plus-2 exam, one can appear for CPT; and a pass in both grants eligibility for moving to the next level, that is, registering for PCE or Professional Competence Examination.

Registrations for CPT have crossed 1,20,000, within about six months since its start, averaging a blistering 20,000 a month. Among the regions, the WIRC (Western India Regional Council) is at the top with nearly 32,000 CPT registrations. The Central region comes second, with about 29,000 registrations. Tally of the other regions are: SIRC 23310; NIRC 21830; and EIRC 14370. "CPT is very popular as it is based on contemporary technique of entry-level test. Students are enthusiastic about this test as they can concurrently prepare with their 10+2 study," says a happy Mr Sunil Talati, president of the Institute, in an interaction with Business Line.

Excerpts from the interview:

How many do you expect to take the CPT exams this fiscal year, and over the next two attempts?

We do not forecast based on past trends. Perhaps the new scheme of education and training will set a new trend. We believe that once students become eligible to appear for CPT, they will avail themselves of the opportunity at the earliest to appear in the examination.

What are the typical problems faced by CPT students, and how is the ICAI resolving them?

We don't feel that CPT students face problems. The course content is in alignment with 10+2 study. Only the `preliminaries of mercantile' is not covered in 10+2. But this, students are well managing. The new generation students are very competent and hard working. We have a strong network of accredited institutions conducting classes. Our Regional Councils and Branches are also providing active support to the students.

Do those who pass the CPT find it a problem to get articleship? Are there enough vacancies?

There is no problem of vacancies. What we have realised is that there may be temporary mismatches between demand for articleship training in a desired firm or location. However, considering the increased admission to the CPT, we have reviewed the vacancies under each member. Appropriate notification will be issued shortly.

How is the ICAI addressing the common complaint of CAs that the new breed of apprentices lack maturity in field work, and also lack an understanding of accounting and auditing so essential to audit situations?

This is post-PE-II syndrome. We have the experience of training entrance-qualified students. We should not under-estimate the ability and competence of 10+2 students. They are considered mature enough to join IITs and medical courses. How can we conclude that they will be immature to pursue training?

The unique features of the chartered accountancy course is concurrent theoretical education and training. We never demanded prior theoretical knowledge nor do we over-emphasise superiority of theory over practicals. Nor do we ignore theoretical knowledge. We always search for a proper blend of theoretical education and practical training. Our examination system emphasises the practical knowledge component. Students perform better in examination with practical knowledge. We strongly feel that the new generation will contribute in the growth and development of the profession.

Is the Institute publicising the CPT course? How? Are school students aware of CPT?

We have well-designed career counselling programmes. We try to reach the prospective students in four ways:

Despatching information brochure to various schools and colleges;

Organising awareness programme at school;

Organising centralised career counselling by inviting students of various schools; and

Participating in career expos.

Any numbers about the revenue and surplus generated from the CPT during the last fiscal and what is projected for this fiscal? How much of this is to be ploughed into the course to augment the question bank and offer further study materials to students?

Perhaps there is some misconception about our object and purpose. We charge a fee that is commensurate with the expenditure involved. We provide a comprehensive set of study materials, a self-assessment CD, freely downloadable question bank. We are spending a good amount of money on e-learning which will be in place soon. The money collected is being used and ploughed back for augmenting the infrastructure and resources required for the education. It is difficult to sustain this fee structure in the long run. You will appreciate that we should not cross-subsidise entry-level students.

What do the analytics of the CPT registrations reveal? Are there any visible patterns?

I have already responded that we do not give much emphasis to past trends. We always look forward for serving the societal purpose. The demand for chartered accountants is high the direct outcome of economic growth. Maybe the recent spurt in the admission is linked to enlarged opportunities for the chartered accountants. We are privileged to provide education and training to these students, which to us is a good opportunity to render a valuable service to the nation.

D. Murali

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