In a landmark decision, the council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has decided to allow its members to advertise in the media. With over 1.45 lakh CA members, ICAI is world's second largest body of accounting professionals.
The latest move of ICAI that is aggressively focusing on its brand-building would open new ad category for agencies and media. Like medical and legal practitioners, CAs too were not allowed to advertise.
"We have taken this decision on the lines of ongoing practices in the US and the UK where accounting professionals are promoting their services through advertisements. The council has also designed guidelines to maintain high standards," said Ved Jain, President, ICAI, who is in New York to inaugurate ICAI's the international chapter.
Jain stated that the role of CAs is no more limited to auditing. "Our members are the most qualified professionals to play a role in the emerging areas like risk planning, knowledge process outsourcing and financial consultancy among others." said Jain.
According to the guideline, CAs cannot give any misleading information in the copy and it should be as per the recommended format. The advertiser will also have to provide the details of the members in firms to some extent. The advertiser will have to follow the the provisions of the Chartered Accountant Act, 1949.
It is believed that the latest move by the ICAI council will enable the CA firms to get better visibility and also bring in new opportunities for the professionals.
"The decision to let CAs advertise will impact the advertising sector if individuals come and talk about themselves. If an individual can support large-scale advertising, it could be some kind of new category," says Madhukar Sabnavis, Country head, Discovery and planning; and Regional director, Thought leadership, Ogilvy & Mather.
According to Sabnavis, advertising in India has largely been corporate and organisation-led. For example, even political advertisement has not yet come into mainstream and is more focused on the organisation rather than an individual. Other industry trackers say that the boom in financial services ad spend will create a subcategory where more individual brands will evolve out of CA consultants.
Financial services sector has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in advertising. After real estate, it is the insurance, personal banking and credit cards are the hottest commodities being sold through media. According to AdEx India analysis, advertising of financial industry in TV is up 34% during 2007 as compared to the previous year while in print it is up by 10% during the same period. Banking and financial services form the largest chunk of advertisers in this category.
Chandan Nath of Mudra, Ahmedabad, says "The big CAs are already known so there is not much we can do. This field is more about trust rather than marketing so marketing and branding can only do so much. And the larger ones, who are already known, cater to corporate clients not the retailers. The corporate clients have their own philosophies which are not meant for mass consumers."
Even if individuals do not come up as brands, the ad-spend for the sector will go up as surrogate advertising converts into 'real' time brand building.