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      CA vs CS vs CFA- How to Choose the Best Option as a B.Com Student

      CA vs CS vs CFA

      So, what after B.Com? This is a very common question for several B.Com students and graduates (and even for their families). Many graduates opt for entry-level jobs, MBA or Masters programs abroad after B.Com. However, there are certain career options that are very popular for B.Com students in India – CA, CS, and CFA. But, what’s best for you? In this article, we will look at CA vs CS vs CFA.

      Chartered Accountant (CA) Career Path

      Among the non-technical field Chartered Accountants are considered as the highest paying professionals. Popular as a very bright career option for commerce graduates, CA offers excellent opportunities in the finance sector. The CA program includes the study of business, taxation, and accounting. Read more about the Chartered Accountant (CA) Career Path in India.

      How to Become CA in India?

      To become a Chartered Account (CA) you will have to clear a set of exams at different levels. The course duration is nearly 5 years, it might take more time for those taking more than one attempt to clear the exams. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) regulates the profession of Chartered Accountancy in our country.

      Chartered Accountants are in demand in various businesses both in the private and public sectors. CAs deal with the account details, tax dues, and investments of an organization and also assists in solving disputes and avoiding bankruptcy.

      CA Eligibility – 10+2 with minimum marks 55% (Aggregate)

      CA Selection and Structure –

      Three levels of the CA certification:

      • CPT (Common Proficiency Test)
      • IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)
      • FC (Final course)

      1. Requirement for Accounting Technician Course (ATC):

      The first step is to take the Chartered Accountant CPT and get enrolled for the Accounting Technician Course (ATC). Candidates can opt for it after clearing plus two. Those who have cleared the Entrance Examination or Professional Education (Examination-I) or Foundation Examination can register directly for ATC. Moreover, those who had applied for the Intermediate/ Intermediate (Professional Competence) programme/ Professional Education (Course-II) prior to this can also register for ATC.

      2. Apply for IPCC:

      Those must secure at least 100 out of 200 marks in CPT after plus two if they want to register for IPCC programme. Registration has to be done nine months prior to the first day of the month in which the exam will be held.

      The course includes seven subjects, each of 100 marks. To qualify students must score at least 40 marks in every subject with an aggregate of 50% or above. Those who score 60 and above in any subject, will be exempted from reappearing for that subject if they fail the course and plan to give the exams again.

      3. Articleship in CA:

      Candidates must do an internship (articleship) of 3 years under a certified CA after clearing the IPCC. This will help them gather practical perspective in the field of accountancy.

      4. CA Final Course:

      Candidates can appear for the final course exams during the last six months of the 3-year articleship. Those qualifying in the final course will be acknowledged as Chartered Accountants.

      • Average Registration Fees – Under 1 Lakh
      • Average Salary Package – INR 7,00,000 – 20,00,000
      • Top Recruiting Companies – E&Y, KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, Morgan Stanley, Axis Bank

      Company Secretary (CS) Career Path

      A Company Secretary is a professional who is responsible for the efficient administration of a company by making sure that employees and board is in compliance with statutory, regulatory, and legal requirements.

      As a CS you will also be responsible for ensuring all board decisions are being successfully implemented within the organization. It is also a CS’s responsibility to oversee each and every employee – lower, middle and upper management operates within the law; keep and maintain company records, communicate with shareholders and directors, among other things.

      CS professionals have expertise in law and are much in demand by Government-backed Financial Institutions, Stock Exchanges, Nationalised Banks, Department of Company Affairs, etc

      How to Become CS in India?

      Students from science, commerce, or humanities background can apply after plus two by registering for the Foundation.

      Candidates from any field apart from fine arts can also opt for the course after graduation by applying straight away for the Executive program and then going for the Professional program.

      It is important to note that those who failed to clear the executive program after graduation or those who failed to clear the foundation and executive program after plus two will not be eligible for pursuing the Professional program.

      • Duration – Foundation Programme (8 Months) Executive Programme (9 months) Professional Programme (10Months)
      • Fee – Foundation Programme= Rs. 3,600 Executive Programme= RS. 7,000 Professional = Rs. 12,500
      • Eligibility – Foundation Programme (10+2 pass or equivalent); Executive Programme (Graduation); Professional Programme (Executive Programme)

      CS Foundation Program

      Those who want to take the CS Foundation exam in December must apply in March of the same year while those willing to write the exam in June must apply by September of the previous year.

      CS Executive Program

      Those who have registered by May can appear for any one module of the exam in December. Those who have registered for up to November can take any one of the modules in June next year. They are also eligible for both the modules of the exam in December if registered before February of the same year.

      Those willing to appear for the June modules must apply for the program latest by August of the previous year.

      CS Professional Program

      Those willing to appear for all the modules of the Professional exam in December must register before February the same year. Those willing to appear for all the modules in June, must apply before the end of August of the previous year. One can also appear for single modules of the CS exams in December if he or she applies before May the same year. Moreover, one can also appear for the single modules in June if he or she applies before November the previous year.

      Job Profiles – Legal Advisor, Corporate Policymaker, Corporate Planner, Chief Administrative Officer etc

      Starting salary – 3 – 5 Lakhs

      Chartered Financial Analyst Program (CFA)

      Chartered Financial Analyst Program (CFA) is a very popular career option for today’s job aspirants. For students with a commerce background, the CFA program is globally renowned as the most sought-after professional qualification. US-based CFA institute offers the CFA program.

      While CA professionals deal with accounting, taxation, law, and audit. The CFA program, comprises investment, banking, wealth management and planning, portfolio management, corporate finance, credit research, etc.

      How to become CFA in India?

      A CFA eligibility criterion is a graduation degree in any field and a minimum of 4 years of work experience. The duration of the course is 1.5 years to 4 years, which depends on the candidate’s potential. To get CFA certification, candidates must complete the three levels of examinations –

      • Level I
      • Level II
      • Level III

      CFA Exam is generally qualified through self-studying the study material provided by the CFA Institute to all registered candidates, either online or they can get the hardcopy against a fee.

      However, CFA Exam is really tough and tutorials are provided by a host of institutes and coaching centers in India who provide training and CFA Books and Study Material to candidates.

      • Exam Frequency – Level 1: Twice in a year (June & December), Level 2 & 3: Only Once (June)
      • Exam Level – International Exam to become a CFA Chartered
      • Eligibility – Bachelor’s degree in relevant discipline or 4 years of work experience
      • Examination Mode – Computer-Based
      • Average Registration Fees – INR 1-2 Lakhs
      • Average Salary Package – INR 12,00,000- 20,00,000

      How to choose – CA vs CS vs CFA?

      CS vs CA

      Today, CS professionals have career options both in India as well as globally. Many CS now enjoy great opportunities and respect at international firms. CAs, on the other hand, are easily employed by Government, public and private sectors.

      Capital markets gain immensely from their expertise and hence demands are always high. Make in India and 100% FDI schemes have opened new horizons for CA’s in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. CA is a good career option for women as well and interestingly, CAs can take a break in the profession and come back with ease.

      CA vs CFA

      To do a CFA program after completing CA is a great option as the CA+CFA is a brilliant and highly valued combo in the field of finance. If you are doing your CA or have completed the course and want to pursue your career in finance abroad, it is highly beneficial for you to opt for the Chartered Financial Analyst Program program (CFA). Pursuing CFA after CA opens new pathways for CA candidates in the field of finance.

      CA + CFA

      Those who have completed CA can easily clear the Level I of the CFA program. Major part of the CA syllabus is almost similar to that of the CFA level 1 exam.

      With CFA you can achieve one of the highest distinctions in the investment management and will be armed with the knowledge and the skills to thrive in the competitive investing industry. The CFA offers expertise and skills in investment analysis.  If you are a practicing investment professional, or a student, or aspiring to start a career in investment, a CFA Program will help you move forward in the professional space.

      Most CAs now opts for CFA program as there is high demand for financial analyst professionals in international firms. Moreover, companies often look for resources with deeper knowledge and prefer to hire CAs with CFA professional qualification. The combination of these two programs arms you with sound financial understanding and good analytical skills and application. Such a candidate can earn a salary of INR 6-15 lakh. So pursuing a CFA program after CA ensures a heftier amount of salary to the candidates.

      Conclusion: CA vs CS vs CFA

      To sum it up CS is a professional who is responsible for the efficient administration of a company. CA is valuable for a career in Audit and Taxation. However, both are highly esteemed courses and their scopes are fast. On the other hand, CFA is the best option for those looking for a career in Investment Banking and Portfolio Management. Choose according to your interest and ability.


      Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

      Author: Baishali Mukherjee

      Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.

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