Finance is a growing field with huge opportunities in India and abroad. Regardless of the size and scale of an organization, all are required to track their financial data and maintain books of accounts. All of these require finance professionals. The new law and issuance of accounting standards has made it more challenging than before. Finance professionals occupy center stage in every organization and are powerful figures in companies. If you want to choose finance as your main domain of expertise then you need to get a professional degree from any recognized educational institute.
Chartered accountant (CA), Company secretary (CS) and cost and works accountant (CWA) are managed by Institutes of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and Institute of Cost accountant of India (ICAI) respectively. All these institutes are under the jurisdiction of the ministry of corporate affairs. These independent institutes are set up by a separate act in parliament and managed by that.
These three courses have similarity with regard to the course syllabus with the only difference in the depth of subjects studied. Chartered accountancy course will give an in depth knowledge on financial accounting, auditing, income tax, indirect taxation, corporate law and financial management. Cost accounting course will give you an in depth knowledge on cost accounting, financial management. Company secretary has in depth study relating to all corporate laws starting from companies act to secretarial practices.
Let us discuss which course is better and why.
Admission to these courses
Any 10+2 pass student can register any of these three courses. There are different stages of passing out all these courses. After passing out the final exams of institute of chartered accountants of India you will be eligible to get membership from ICAI and become a Chartered Accountant. Similarly after passing out the final stage of CWA and CS you will be able to avail membership of these institutes.
In terms of joining and the process of passing exams, all these courses has no difference except in CA course you need to do 3 years of articleship with a chartered accountant in practice. Now CWA course has also made it mandatory to have 3 years practical experience either under a CWA in practice or in industry to get the membership. Similarly a company secretary before becoming a member has to under gone 15 months practical training.
CA has advantage over CWA in terms of industry recognition and finance practice. Chartered Accountancy is highly recognised in all areas of finance like financial accounting, cost accounting, taxation, corporate law, internal audit and other audits where as CWA can work only in the areas of cost audit and internal audit. Companies in India are recognising CA as a better course than CWA because of its course contents and other relevant advantages over CWA.
Even though CS course is related to finance, specialisation is more into corporate law and secretarial practice. If you want to get into legal compliance matters of a company then this is the best course to do. CS has a very good acceptance in industry.
CA, CWA and CS Practice
A chartered accountant can practice in the area of accounting, corporate law, auditing, taxation and other corporate financial areas. Our statutory law has made certain audit compulsorily to be done by a chartered accountant like company audits, bank audits and income tax audits. After passing out CA final exam, a chartered accountant can open up his own firm with a permission of ICAI to practice in all these areas.
Similarly a Cost and works accountant can practice in cost audit, internal audit and corporate finance. But such CWA practitioner cannot take company audit, bank audit and income tax audit. This is where CWA lacks behind in comparison to a chartered accountant in practice as the area of company audit, bank audit and income tax audits are wider than cost audit.
A company secretary can practice in corporate law, corporate finance and other legal matters. Companies act has made it mandatory for certain companies to provide compliance certificate from a company secretary in practice. A company secretary can be appointed and provide compliance certificate to such companies. Compare to chartered accountant, such profession has less scope of practice.
It all depends on your interest and area of specialization. We suggest you to choose any of these courses based on your ability, aptitude, career outlook and the area of your interest. If you have decided the area of your specialisation then you can choose any of these courses to build your future career. You can simultaneously pursue CWA or CS along with CA with a written approval of ICAI. But while practising you can only practice as a CA or CWA or CS. Undoubtedly CA is better than CWA and CS in job prospects and practice as the opportunities are more in comparison to other professions. But it does not mean that there is no scope for CWA or CS in practice. A CWA or CS can also practice but the avenues available to them in comparison to a CA are lesser.