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In a knowledge economy, professionals require new skills
May, 31st 2007
There is so much that can be achieved through co-operation, and everything to be lost through confrontation.

MR N. J. YASASWY, founder-Member of the ICFAI.

Acquiring another professional qualification like CFA should never be construed as professional misconduct, as such a stand would be illogical and unreasonable, according to Mr N. J. Yasaswy, founder-Member of the ICFAI.

Sounding upbeat after the Supreme Court ruled in the ICFAI's favour in an 18-year-old case against the ICAI, he told Business Line that no professional institute should do anything that violates the fundamental rights of its members.

The ICAI had, in 1989, prohibited its members from using the description `Chartered Financial Analyst' or its abbreviation, CFA.

In a notification, it said that CAs would be guilty of "professional misconduct" if they obtained CFA qualification on or after January 1, 1990.

"The notification was an unreasonable restriction on CAs and in violation of their fundamental rights," Mr Yasaswy said.

According to him, the CFA is a useful add-on qualification for CAs. "For 18 years, the notification has gone against the fundamental rights of CAs interested in upgrading their knowledge and skills."

He added: "From the beginning, the ICFAI has been arguing that in a knowledge economy, professionals require new skills. The CFA Program provides such new skills as required in the investment industry."

Now that the court has ruled in its favour, the ICFAI would gladly invite CAs to pursue the CFA Program and also take advantage of the various programmes offered by the ICFAI University, he said.

"We look forward to the opportunity to work with the ICAI for promoting amity among all professionals."

Since the judges have talked about "harassment" of CAs, the ICAI Central Council should now encourage CAs to upgrade their knowledge and skills, Mr Yasaswy added.

On flaws in the ICAI's arguments, he said: "Their argument was centred on the alleged similarity of FCA and CFA designations, which was clearly flawed. The users of the services of CAs and CFAs are intelligent enough to know the difference."

He also said that hundreds of advertisements had appeared since 1989 wherein employers had called for FCAs and CFAs "without any apparent confusion. The confusion was only in the imagination of some ICAI Central Council members in 1989."

The tussle began in 1987-88, when some Central Council members approached the MRTPC with a complaint against the ICFAI. However, the complaint was rejected.

Mr Yasaswy recounted that an ICFAI board member met the then CA Institute President, Mr Arvind H. Dalal, and explained in detail the scope and the purpose of the CFA Program.

"We clarified that CFAs were being trained in financial analysis as applicable to the investment industry and that they would not compete with CAs in the practice areas of auditing and taxation."

However, Mr Dalal was not persuaded and went ahead with the notification in August 1989 banning CAs from sporting the CFA tag.

Mr Yasaswy, himself a CA, said that several members were disappointed with the notification.

He believes that the issue could have been sorted out without recourse to litigation.

"Through common friends we tried to approach some members of the Central Council, but that did not yield any positive result."

He feels that the long delay, as a result of heavy backlog of cases in courts, could have been avoided. "It must have adversely affected many CAs during these years."

He added that the Central Council has much answering to do. "It owes an explanation to its members on the issue."

Despite the notional loss of business, the ICFAI has not sought damages.

"The ICFAI never viewed this litigation as a business proposition. We were only worried that many CAs were being unreasonably prevented from enriching their knowledge and skills by pursuing the CFA Program."

Mr Yasaswy also said that professional institutions should try and avoid litigation as far as possible.

"If there is mutual goodwill and respect, they should be able to sort out the problems across the table with an attitude of give and take."

He added: "There is so much that can be achieved through co-operation, and everything to be lost through confrontation. Clearly, co-operation is the way forward."

Looking forward to "friendship and co-operation between the institutes," Mr Yasaswy said that people in power can sometimes cause great damage, the adverse impact of which is felt by future generations.

"We need visionary leaders who can take our professions forward. They should provide inspiring leadership to our institutions. Only those who can forget the past can invent the future."

D. Murali
C. Ramesh

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