— CA Murtuza Kachwala
Chartered Accountancy (CA) and Company Secretary (CS) are two lucrative career options for class 12 commerce students. While both professions work with logic accounting and statistics, there is a major difference in their role and responsibilities in a company.
To help students make an informed decision, indianexpress.com spoke to CA Murtuza Kachwala, chairman, Western India Regional Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (WIRC of ICAI) on the differences, similarities and career prospects.
CA versus CS: What’s the difference?
A chartered accountant’s focus is on the concepts of accounts and auditing, management accounting, taxation and consulting while a company secretary focuses on corporate laws, advisory and secretarial roles at the CEO level, as well as strategic management and planning.
A chartered accountant’s role today is evolving purely from an accounting and auditing perspective into a role of a business advisor where he advises the top management of a company on ways to enhance its profitability through ethical means and at the same time protecting and caring for the environment and society. Whereas a company secretary advises the senior management of the company on corporate laws ensuring regulatory compliance. He is an in-house legal advisor.
How similar are the two courses?
As far as the similarities between the courses go, the syllabus of CS levels includes certain parts of accounting and record keeping, while a CA also studies some parts of company law. In fact, a combination of CA and CS degrees is hugely symbiotic and takes the career of a professional to dizzying heights.
There are also individuals who start their career as a company secretary and later also acquire CA. The profession of chartered accountancy is governed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), while the company secretaryship is governed by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
How to choose between CA and CS
While both courses are well-suited for commerce students, pursuing any one of these largely depends on a student’s interest. If your interest lies in auditing, accounting and taxation, CA should be your choice of career. If you are interested in law and its interpretation in a corporate environment, then CS should be your choice of career.
The duration of five years makes CA more complex when compared to CS, which can be completed in three years. Comparatively, CS is easier to crack but the scope for a career is limited. CS is a vital link between the company and its board of directors, shareholders, government and regulatory authorities. Hence, they take up diverse roles in the management, taxation, finance and international trade departments of a company.
A chartered accountant’s role is also getting diversified. Accounting is evolving with technology well integrating with concepts such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots, blockchain etc. As a result, CA education is becoming a lot tech-enabled. More tech integration will be seen in areas such as audit, taxation, compliance and even the litigation practice of the CA profession. There is a great scope for CAs in areas such as data analytics and cybersecurity.
Similarly, with advancements in the technology sector, CS takes care of software copyright and licensing, cyber laws compliance, et al.
Higher studies and career prospects
The learning prospects never end for both programmes. One can always opt for an LLB or a PhD. A specialisation in courses around taxation, international trade laws, valuation, insolvency and bankruptcy code etc can be pursued.
On account of the diversity of the application for the role of a CA, the job prospects will be much higher. On average, a chartered accountant is paid more in comparison to a company secretary. CAs have more authority and can sometimes argue cases for their clients, similar to a lawyer, which the CS cannot. Nevertheless, there is a great scope of employment for a company secretary. Every company with a paid-up share capital of Rs 2 crore or above has to appoint a company secretary for their smooth functioning. Therefore the employment scope is expansive.
The starting salary of a CA fresher is an average of 7 to 8 lakh per annum with any corporate firm while the starting salary of a company secretary is between 3 to 4 lakh per annum.