With the globalization of work, Chartered Public Accountant also is commonly known as CPA has become one of the important degrees. The big 4 accounting companies – Deloitte, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Ernst and Young (E&Y) hire the CPAs mostly in India since they have a global clientele to cater to.
CPA is almost similar to CA in India with the exception in knowledge base but with a very high entry barrier. The entry barrier to CPA is almost equivalent to the master’s degree and the work experience required is also very strict. A CPA has the good understanding of US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (GAAS), US federal taxation and business laws over a regular CA.
Lets us look at the most common career options after completing CPA:
Financial / International Accounting:
This is the regular accounting work involving the preparation and analysis of journals and ledgers for accounting purpose. Balance sheet and P&L Analysis to understand the flow of money and the profitability of the organization is also a part of this. This will be mostly on the lines of GAAP or IFRS.
A strong understanding of global standards of accounting is very beneficial for Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Initial Public Offerings (IPO), share and debt issues and many other such instruments. Raising and spending funds at the international level requires a good accounting process and set of clearances to be followed as they may have the direct bearing on FDI and often come under the scanner of money laundering.
Companies hire freelancers and also keep them on a payroll to audit the organization internally to ensure correct practices are being followed. CPAs are well trained to perform internal auditing be it financial or operational. Many CPAs venture in this domain of internal auditing.
Information Technology (Related to auditing):
This role requires a good knowledge of Information Technology as well as accounting. A typical job role may be Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) or a software revenue manager.
People in this role get a better package than the ones in financial roles.
The role requires a good following of the steps and guidelines by the organization which the CPAs are always able to implement properly. CPAs maintain a good relationship between various stakeholders like suppliers, vendors, community etc.
CPAs in the field investigate white crimes like fraud, money laundering, and bribe as they are very sharp and versed with such actions. They are also able to see contract fraud and see everything from the eyes of the court.
Academics & Research:
This is another area one might like to venture into as they are well versed with accounting and auditing at global scope. Teaching subjects lie auditing, business strategy, finance and accounts would come very easy to them.
CA has a broader career path whereas CPA is mostly restricted to accountancy, auditing, and taxation. CPA as a career path is better if you want to migrate towards, US, UK or Canada.
However, on a practical side, the options for CPA are very limited in India. The big 4 audit forms, Indian MNC banks and the US companies who prepare their financial audits from India employ the CPA holders. Some of them also do freelancing work on a regular basis. Otherwise, opportunities for CPA in India s very limitedly as MNCs do not prefer them.