Which CPA is better - CPA Australia,CPA USA or CPA Canada?

The Finance Story

  • Today we have Dhritiman Ranawat an Entrepreneur and an Early-stage & venture capital investor sharing with us - Why did he pursue the CPA Australia designation.
  • Prior to this, Dhritiman has spent 12+ years in Investment Banking and Advisory roles at Credit Suisse and Deloitte (Mumbai, India).
  • He has also worked/advised on M&A, capital market and private equity transactions worth over the US $6 billion.

My CPA Australia Journey

I started my CPA Australia journey in 2004 and completed in 2007.

Back then, Australia was not so restrictive in providing graduates the opportunity to find work, get Permanent Residency (PR) and settle into the country. This was the primary reason I chose CPA Australia compared to the US CPA. (It was tough to enter and become a part of the US workforce even after completing the US CPA.)

However, it wasn't the only reason I decided to pursue CPA Australia - Australia also provides an unmatched mix of high standards of living coupled with demand-supply dynamics that are favorable for job-seekers (that is - more work, few qualified people).

Taking all this into consideration CPA Australia seemed perfect for me!

CPA Australia

My CPA experience is quite dated since I completed my CPA in 2007. I would request you all to do your own research in case certain program components have changed since my time.

CPA, like most of such courses, is self-study oriented. However, you do enroll in colleges and use that as an opportunity to interact more closely with your peers than you otherwise would not.

The CPA exam sections are like that; they set fear to the candidate because it feels like there are a lot of topics to cover.

Although this is true, anyone can conquer it by finding a way to cut it down into manageable pieces.

CPA Australia pathway has something called a - Foundation Program. Once completed, the candidates can join CPA Australia as an Associate member. As an Associate member, you are now eligible to commence the CPA Program.

The Foundation Program:

  • The Foundation Program aims to - Impart the basics and covers 6 major areas (which are further divided into courses) including Economics, Accounting, Business Law, Finance, Financial Accounting & Reporting, and Management Accounting.
  • Depending on whether you have a graduate degree in accounting & finance, overseas graduates will have to appear for a few courses of study within this.
  • The foundation exams cover the knowledge required to become an Associate member of CPA Australia.
  • They can be taken in any order, at your choice of exam location and time.

CPA Program:

  • Subsequent to the successful completion of the Foundation Program, the main CPA Program starts.
  • The CPA Program consists of 4 compulsory subjects + 2 electives + An experience component.
  • The CPA Program, like any CA/CPA program, is extensive.
  • And similar to most such programs, the experience component (article-ship) is of a mandatory 36 months duration.
  • Subsequent to the successful completion of CPA Program requirements, you become a CPA.
  • Depending on the courses you are required to undertake in the Foundation Program, the total program stretches from anywhere between 3-4.5 years.

Also Read

This CA immigrated to Australia and found a job within two weeks - thanks to the CPA Australia designation

Which CPA Should You Pursue 

Generally, when we use the term CPA we think of CPA USA. This is because the US CPA is most widely accepted and in great demand thanks to the US Companies all over the world. However, most countries have their own accounting qualifications like Canada has CPA Canada, Australia has CPA Australia and so on.

  • When you have to decide which CPA to pursue - Understand Where you want to work and the DEMAND of the degree in your country.
  • Like the US CPA is done by a lot of people because US companies are spread all over the globe and thus there is a job opportunity.
  • Anyone intending to move to Australia should consider CPA Australia or anyone considering working in an Australian firm based in India (or anywhere in the world) should consider CPA Australia.
  • Similarly, anyone looking at working in a USA Company should consider CPA USA and the same for CPA from any other country.
  • A course like CPA should ideally be followed by a work stint in the same country so you can understand the application side better.
  • The main reason is that CPA courses are more country-specific unlike other streams of study like MBA or Engineering.
  • If one is studying CPA Australia the course would cover the Accounting Standards applicable in Australia. Not only do Accounting Standards (AS) differ but the difference gets even more as you graduate to Auditing with its country-specific standards and equally if not more so in Taxation.
  • So depending on your long-term goals you can choose the right CPA to meet your needs!

Job Opportunities For CPA

As mentioned above, I am of the opinion that courses like CPA are followed up by work stints in the same country as the course of study. This is because courses like CPA have a significant country-specific component, not just in terms of a few accounting approaches but in terms of accepted accounting standards and auditing practices.

And this gets further amplified in streams like taxation which differ quite significantly from country to country.

That said, courses like CPA can potentially lead candidates to various other streams - Finance, Banking, Consulting etc. wherein the above-mentioned differences do not matter.

However, I would still advise students pursuing CPA Australia to explore doing this course in Australia. This is because not only do your chances of employment increase manifold, but you also get to see, experience and grow in close quarters to the content of your studies and in the company of peers. At times, the latter is equally if not more important for our holistic development.

Again as mentioned above anyone intending to move to Australia should consider CPA Australia or anyone considering to work in an Australian firm/company based in India (or anywhere in the world) should consider CPA Australia.

In today's time, a lot of work from Australia is being outsourced to Indian Accounting firms thus doing a CPA Australia in India can benefit you even if you intend to stay in India only.

In Conclusion...

  • While I've not traversed this exact path of CA from ICAI but I've still managed to experience more than a fair share of failures!
  • What has always helped me is the fact that I knew CPA is the stream for me.
  • When you LOVE WHAT YOU DO no matter what the circumstances are/become - Things tend to fall in place.
  • I would again hark back to my previous statement - It is always best to pursue CPA or equivalent courses in the country of that certification.
  • That said, any certification mostly helps land that first job. However, how you grow in that job later depends on your interests and performance than on the degree.
  • Do what you love. Please DO NOT let elders, peers, or anyone else box you into something you are/would not like to become.
  • I was probably the most clueless pre-graduation kid in my school so I know first-hand that this ASK is a difficult one but I sincerely request you all to LOOK WITHIN YOU AND EVALUATE what you are good at / what you want to do for a lifetime. And then do everything to reach that goal.
  • We spend 2/3 of our lives working. So work in an area of your DESIRE and, thus, live a fuller life.

Now It's Your Turn...

Would love to know your thoughts on the same.

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