This CA failed 10 times in his CA exams but did not let failure define him rather enjoyed his journey

  • Hi, I am Harshvardhan Jain, a Chartered Accountant from India.
  • I decided to pursue CA right after class 12, all was smooth – until I hit rock bottom in CA Final and took 10 attempts to clear.
  • I am not glorifying CA or failures nor trying to convince you not to give up. The reason I am sharing my story is to tell you 'how I survived challenges life threw at me and how taking complete responsibility for my situation helped me deal with this.'
  • Today, in spite of my multiple attempts I am doing well in life, all because of two things: a positive mental attitude and learning to enjoy not only my successes but also my failures. 
  • Here is my story.

Deciding to pursue CA

In spite of being a bright kid in school, I was clueless as to what I would want to do next.

After a good score in 10th grade, I opted for the commerce stream and luckily got admission to one of the most prestigious colleges in Mumbai - Narsee Monjee College. It was at this college that I made up my mind to pursue CA!

Why CA? Well, almost 90% of my batchmates were studying to become CAs, and most importantly, my dad is a CA too! Also to note, CA as a career option is one of the most respected in the commerce stream as far as I know.

So, after evaluating other career options, pursuing CA seemed most suitable for me.  

CPT and IPCC were easy!

Like most students pursuing CA from India, right after the 12th board exams, I enrolled for the CA course, and here started my journey. This was in 2009.

CPT: I was 18 when I cleared CPT on the first attempt. I immediately started articleship in Audit/Assurance with a Big 4 firm for 3.5 years. (At that time, we were given an option to start articles after passing CPT exams!)

IPCC: Next came CA- PCC (now known as IPCC). I could not manage work, tuition, college, and studies at one go hence I stumbled in my PCC too. It took me three attempts to clear PCC. 

Yes, I did feel like giving up too at that moment, however, I would want to give credit to my friends who helped me sail through this, especially one particular friend I met in the library!  

I cleared PCC in May 2011 in my third attempt at the age of 21!  Now I had only one exam to go - CA Final until I qualified as a CA! 

Also Read

This CA took 11 attempts to pass CA Final exams & is now the Financial Controller at PayPal India. What is stopping you?

Failing CA Final group 1 attempt after attempt!

My first CA Final attempt was in 2012. I cleared CA Final Group 2 in the first attempt itself, and was certain of clearing CA Final Group 1 in the next attempt!

But to my utter surprise, I kept failing attempt after attempt.

I hated it, I resisted it, I blamed and complained and I felt suicidal sometimes too like everything which a human goes through when he/she meets with continuous failures.

I felt like opting out of it many times but the desire to ‘not quit when I was so close’ kept me going. (Considering that I just had Group 1 pending, it was natural that I would expect that I will clear soon.)

Again if I had to pursue any other course it would need a minimum investment of 2 years and hence I thought why not just continue with CA!

Also, a sense of ‘completion’ was very important to me and so I persisted!

To add, personally I knew many CA’s who had given numerous attempts but looking at them well settled in their life (wealth wise) encouraged me to keep pursuing CA!

Working, starting a business amidst my multiple attempts 

In those 5 years of giving attempt after attempt, I worked for 3-3.5 years as I knew beyond a point number of attempts doesn't matter but work experience would make a difference! 

Since I was not a qualified CA, my learning was very enriching but my growth was slow (in money terms). 

It did feel frustrating, however, I have learned that acceptance causes disappearance (meaning if you accept something it will not run in your mind continuously).

Here are my behind scenes of my 5-year journey appearing for CA Final Group 1:

2012, 2013

  • In the first attempt itself, I cleared Group 2 and diligently gave Group 1 for two attempts.
  • So, the first three attempts I gave without working anywhere.

2014-2015

  • I lost my patience just studying and was keen on finding a job and entering the corporate world!
  • Got a great opportunity as an investment banking intern/analyst with a salary slightly higher than what a 3rd-year article at a Big 4 firm would make. The study leave was 3 weeks.
  • My job was very demanding, I could hardly focus on my studies...and of course, I failed that attempt! 
  • I quit my job to focus completely on my studies.

2015-2016

  • Post giving exams, on the side, my mom (a lawyer turned fashion designer) and I started up our own online store in connection with ethnic bags.
  • Have to mention my mom went to college to study fashion and at 52 she started up with me (another inspiration for me that it’s never too late).
  • We scaled it up to serving customers across 7 countries and 15 states in India. Meanwhile, I still kept giving my attempts.
  • After continuing the above for 1.5 years I was still not clearing my exams.

2017,2018

  • I decided to take up another job as the entire starting up was out of passion, we were not looking to make it big, etc. So mom continued with it.
  • I joined a renowned CA firm and worked there for almost two years. Here I got sufficient study leaves.
  • Finally, I cleared my exams after almost 5 years in 2018!

Also Read

This small town girl pursued CA against all odds and started her own firm when 3-months pregnant

Starting my career after multiple attempts

Everything paid off, when I qualified as a CA in 2018, 5 years later. 

After qualifying, I got an opportunity at a Big 4 in International Taxation and Transfer Pricing. Of course, I started out as a fresher, but it is just a matter of time my knowledge and experience get rewarded.

In fact, recently I got an opportunity as an Investment Banking Analyst at a leading company in India. 

I have to add that my parents supported me and stood by me every single time, as my family struggled to see my struggle but they kept encouraging me! I could have never done this without them.

Questions I get asked most often:

“Dealing with people and their criticism.”

  • People used to ask me funny questions like – “Why don't you quit CA", or "CA is something you are not destined to be, why not another course?" etc. 
  • Initially, statements like these would disturb me but the moment I changed my mindset and took it with a pinch of salt I was okay!
  • In fact, I started thanking them for asking me these questions because they actually took the time to think about me and call me! 

"Why did you take 10 attempts to clear just one group?"

  • I was in a rush to start earning. So after 3 attempts, I did start working but then I was not able to manage both. (It's no point RUSHING into things especially when you have to be the most patient.)
  • I did not have good relationships with people in my life. Further, I didn't care much about the people and my family. BIG MISTAKE. So once I realized this, whenever I messed up I reconciled with that individual, took all the responsibilities, and had my power back. It made a huge difference in my studies. (Relations and exams are connected in a big way!)
  • I resisted CA. Yes, I did! I started hating it and as they say, what you resist persists. So I dropped all my resistance towards it and I then decided to pursue CA with my full heart and with joy...irrespective of the outcomes!

Also Read

From clearing CA-CPT in the second attempt to Industrial Training at Unilever. Here is my story.

Wrapping up….

Today, I am more humble, have a very high EQ, doing well for myself, and am a changed person.

People have this imaginary threat/fear that people will make fun of them because of their failures, at least, I had this mindset. But trust me whoever I share my story with, has respected me even more.

Even at interviews, they appreciate my persistence and my never-give-up attitude! 

My message is not to glorify my failures or how I became a CA in so many attempts, my message is - To embrace a changed perspective, have acceptance, and take responsibility for everything in life, and learn through it all.

Now It's Your Turn...

What challenges are you facing in life? Share and let us know.

(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)

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