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Chartered accountants look beyond financial sector for jobs
April, 05th 2011

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Icai) wants to place more graduates in fast-growing sectors such as small and medium enterprises (SME), retail, telecom and in- frastructure. As of now, the financial sec- tor remains the biggest sector, with nearly 600 fresh CAs (chartered accountants) being hired by banks alone, said K. Raghu, chairman of Icai's com- mittee for members in indus- try. But we are seriously look- ing to the SMEs to tap a largely untapped segment.

Icai plans a special pro- gramme to place CAs in SMEs, he said. We are expecting around 250 CAs to participate in the exclusively structured campus placement pro- gramme for SMEs to be organ- ized during May. We expect to place about 200 candidates.SMEs account for 45% of In- dia's industrial output and 40% of exports, according to indus- try lobby Small and Medium Business Development Cham- ber of India.

They employ 60 million peo- ple, create 1.3 million jobs ev- ery year and produce more than 8,000 products for the In- dian and international mar- kets. The sector contributed 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, which is expec- ted to increase to 22% by 2012.

There are 26.1 million SME units in India and 12 million people are expected to join the SME workforce in the next three years. Icai president G. Ramas- wamy said demand for Indian CAs has grown both nationally and internationally. A total 222 companies offered 1,806 jobs to fresh CAs this year, com- pared with 156 firms recruiting 398 fresh CAs in the last place- ment season.

CAs get good grounding during their articleship and are good at managing business en- vironment. The compensation should reflect the talent they possess. The highest package of `68 lakh per annum, offered to four candidates for interna- tional posting, shows the im- portance of CAs as a complete business solu- tions provid- er, Ramas- wamy said.

All chartered accountancy students are required to work as audit clerks for three years, which is known as arti- cleship. The demand for CAs is ex- pected to rise with a number of companies adopting account- ing standards in line with the international financial report- ing standards. Anil Sachdev, a human re- source consultant, said CAs are more in demand compared with masters of business ad- ministrations (MBAs) for three reasons.

Having done their article- ship, they have seen life inside a company, the chartered ac- countancy curriculum has seen a change with additional modules on business under- standing, and they are into process driven technology, which is required by sectors such as retail as also banking, said Sachdev, founder and chief executive of the School of Inspired Leadership, an HR consultancy firm. My person- al experience says CAs are more stable than MBAs and, therefore, contribute less to at- trition in a company.

Olam International Ltd, an export house on agricultural commodities based in Singa- pore, paid the highest salary of `68 lakh a year in the history of Icai over the last 33 placement seasons. Among domestic firms, ITC Ltd offered the highest pay packet of nearly `14 lakh a year.

ICICI Bank Ltd offered 309 jobs to fresh CAs while Ca- nara Bank hired 55 CAs and Axis Bank Ltd gave offer to 50 others. In total, 589 jobs came from banks, and 100 from non- banking financial companies. Icai also wants to place more students in retail, infrastruc- ture and telecom sectors.

Since September, telcos Idea Cellular Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd have hired at least 23 fresh CAs, said Raghu. Icai plans to tap the Persian Gulf market as well. Its committee for members in industry organized inter- views for fresh graduates with Gulf-based companies through video conferencing; two stu- dents were placed as a result.

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