Updated: Nov 29, 2021
CA is quite a comprehensive course in itself, dealing with various topics relating to commerce providing a strong base to CA aspirants. However, there are many reasons why it is advisable to pursue a secondary degree or certification along with CA.
The main reasons are
To broaden your reach
To learn new skills
Exposure to other domains (geographically or academically)
Let's discuss some of the top courses to pursue along with CA.
Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com)
This is one of the most common courses to pursue along with CA and is a staple among most CA students. There are many reasons for that and I want to talk about 2 main reasons.
provides students exposure to various situations and people with different experiences helping them in overall personality development
builds the students' network to include people who aren't related to the CA field which can prove to be a great asset
Personally, I feel that B.Com should be continued only from a regular college with a good brand name (for example, any of the top 10 colleges in DU) as most of the course content of B.Com is covered in the CA curriculum.
Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)
ACCA is short for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants which is an institute based out of the UK. This course can be suggested to students who want to broaden their horizon and go abroad. Large firms all over the world like EY, Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, GT, etc. recognize ACCA.
There are various exemptions provided to CA students pursuing ACCA which is a huge bonus! You can know more about the exemptions here.
ACCA can prove to be a great asset, but, like CA, it is concentrated in the accounting and taxation field, which might not be of much help for students looking for certifications in finance or management. Further, unlike CA, ACCA doesn't have a signing authority in any jurisdiction, therefore if that is a concern, students can pursue courses like CPA US.
Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
This is one of the courses favored highly by Indian parents. If they are disappointed that you didn't do engineering or medical you can make them happy by doing an MBA. Well, that was on a lighter note. The debate of which among CA and MBA is better is a life-long one. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges!
So let's break it down.
MBA has a general focus on management and a specialized focus on a specific field (like finance, marketing, HR, etc.,). The curriculum is designed to focus on overall functioning of business and its governance. The top MBA colleges provide great networking opportunities and have a strong alumni base too which is the major reason why people pursue MBA.
On the other hand, CA focuses on the accounting, finance and taxation aspects of the business.
There are many benefits of pursuing CA + MBA, majorly it provides students with a holistic understanding of business.
However, it is my personal opinion that for CA + MBA to be meaningful, MBA must be pursued at the top B-schools (like IIMs, XLRI, or international universities like Stanford or Harvard)
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
This is a certification provided by the AICPA which is an accountants' body based in countries like US, Canada, Australia, etc., . (Essentially, a CPA is equivalent to a CA in India) Generally, it is considered that the US CPA has the greatest reach as it is identified in many countries.
The US CPA certification requires a candidate to clear 4 papers by scoring 75 (on a scale of 0-99) in each paper in a span of 18 months. The 4 papers are Financial reporting, Audit, Regulation (Tax and other laws), Business Environment concepts.
Evidently, the main focus of CPA - similar to CA - is Accounting and Tax. If you feel that your aptitude is inclined to these areas, CPA in addition to CA can give you an excellent global exposure along with extensive knowledge of Ind AS, IFRS & US GAAP, along with a comprehensive understanding of Indian and American Taxation systems.
(ICAI also has an MoU with the accounting bodies across the world, making it easier for qualified CAs to get a CPA/CA in those countries. Click here to know more)
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
This is another US-based certification that is recognized widely all over the world. The course is a core finance course dealing with Portfolio Management, Statistics, Corporate Finance, Financial Analysis, Risk Management, etc.,.
There are 3 levels in CFA that deal with the same subjects in each level, but in varying depth and weightage. The exams are conducted twice a year, with the passing rate of about 50% at each level. The questions are mainly objective (MCQ type) and short answer type questions that aim to assess the understanding of the candidate.
CFA is a really good course for people who want to get into fields like corporate finance, equity valuation and portfolio management. Along with CA, it can be really useful as you will be able to understand the financials of a company better and also estimate the effect of taxation on any investment decision.
The main aim of pursuing other courses along with CA is to leverage your skills, gain knowledge and build your career. I have discussed only a few courses that in my opinion add greater value to a CA student. There are multiple other courses out there that might resonate with you better (CS, CMA, etc.,) One thing that you must keep in mind is that ICAI allows to pursue only one degree / course along with CA, so choose wisely. You can always pursue the courses after qualifying too.
In my opinion, with the rapid globalisation we have to focus on building a global career and developing skills that are essential to particular fields that you are interested in. It is no longer enough just to be a CA. In the long run it would be hugely beneficial to have expertise in a niche field. This will open up doors to many more meaningful opportunities
For example, if I am interested in audit, I would pursue a CPA US which would help me not only to understand Indian Laws and Audits of Indian corporations, but also that of international entities as majority of the large corporations are based out of the US.
Similarly, if I am interested in finance, I would pursue the CFA course and get a charter, which would help me better understand the core principles of finance.
Essentially, these additional courses exist to help us explore our interests and specialize in a particular field which ultimately helps build our career.