How this father of two qualified as a CA at the age of 38 after 16 years of not giving up. Here is his story.
- Hi, I am Deepak Verma, a qualified Chartered Accountant from India.
- I never wanted to become a CA but destiny guided me.
- I started my CA journey in March 2004 and eventually qualified in Jan 2021 at the age of 38! This means it took me more than 16 years to become a Chartered Accountant.
- My message to you is - CA or for that matter anything can be achieved at any age and under any circumstances. All you need is the nerve of steel and dedication of the highest level.
- Here is my story of passion, dedication, and perseverance.
Born and bred in Delhi; my life growing up was pretty simple, we did not have much but my dad saw to it we had food on the table and received a good education.
In school, I was a very average student. So, when it was time to decide my career path, I chose the Commerce stream and decided to do a Bachelors in Commerce (B.Com).
My college life was very boring as I had no money to spend, no good clothes to wear, and very little self-confidence. In fact, this was the first time I experienced an inferiority complex and started bunking classes just to avoid going to college.
During my second year of B.Com, I observed that a few students in my class were always busy, they would attend college, then run to do their articleship, and were always travelling for Audits. I soon realized they were pursuing Chartered Accountancy.
I pitied them and made up my mind that I would never ever go this route!
Eventually going the CA Route!
After I graduated (2003), I prepared for the MBA entrance exams (aka CAT exam in India) or you could say I passed my time pretending to prepare for the exam!
Fast forward, I attempted the exam but things did not work out. By now I had invested 16 months on preparing for the MBA entrance exams and I knew I was going nowhere with it!
One day my father sat me down and asked me firmly - What are you doing with your life? Of course, I had no answer.
He then gave me an ultimatum and told me that if I don’t do anything useful with my life within the next 6 months then I had to leave home and fend for myself. This came to me as a big shock. What now?
I was very angry with my father and had to show him what I am capable of and so I decided to opt for a very tough yet rewarding qualification the Chartered Accountancy course.
When I informed my father, that I was going to pursue CA from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) he told me it is a very difficult course and I should opt for something else! This made my resolute even stronger and I soon registered for the CA course.
Getting a rank in PCC to struggling to find articleship training
Since I was a B.Com graduate I could skip the CA entrance exam and directly start with CA Intermediate (or as you call it today PCC). This was April 2004.
Like most CA students, I took coaching for all the subjects, prepared diligently for one year, and gave the exams in May 2005. To my surprise, I got an All India Rank 49.
Needless to say, I was on cloud nine! Here I learned a fundamental lesson; if one studies regularly one can clear any exam.
Now it was time to start my articleship training at a CA Firm.
I was under the assumption that since I am a rank holder, CA firms would chase me. Unfortunately, nothing of that sort happened!
In fact, I did not get any call from a reputed CA firm. It was heartbreaking.
Luckily, my uncle helped me get into a midsized CA Firm.
Getting overconfident and failing CA finals miserably
All was good now, I started my articles and everyone at the firm used to refer to me as "Mr. Rank Holder".
I was given good audits to perform and the senior-most partner was most impressed with my smartness and acumen.
Foolish of me, but a sense of arrogance started setting in.
I thought to myself - If I can score a rank in CA Inter in the 1st attempt, passing CA Final would be a cakewalk....but boy I was so wrong.
I lost focus and instead of preparing for my CA Final exams, I started dreaming about making lots of money as a CA.
Nov 2007 was my first CA Final attempt and I failed the exams short of 4 marks. Again, I knew I had not given my best and still failed by just 4 marks, I was sure I would clear in the second attempt.
You guessed right, I kept failing attempt after attempt (2008 and 2009). I was all lost.
Failing one attempt after the other
I was 27 years old and had invested 2 years just studying. I knew this could not continue so I started applying for job opportunities.
I got a lot of job opportunities but they all offered me a very meager salary citing the same thing 'You are just a semi-qualified CA, not a CA, so this is the best we can offer you.'
I had to start somewhere, so I took up a job for INR 14,500 per month (almost USD 300) at WNS Global Services Pvt Ltd.
My intention was to work and simultaneously prepare for my CA Final exams but that did not happen.
I started enjoying the MNC culture - late-night parties, music, dance, nice people around, and I forgot about my CA dream! This continued throughout 2010, 2011, and 2012!
Here is the complete timeline:
2012: Got married in Jan (age 29 years). I travelled a lot for leisure. Exhausted all my savings by Dec.
- Realised in Jan that CA is a necessity, I can’t give a good life to my family without CA.
- The whole year went by thinking about how to do it.
- Started taking classes after office hours. Attended office till 5:00 pm, class from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm daily. 5-6 hours self-study on weekends. It was a very hectic schedule.
- Continued for 4 months and realised I can’t clear any group like this. I had to devote more hours.
- Just before the exams, I freaked out and skipped the exams. I cried for some time.
- Sat my parents down, told them I want to complete my CA and so wanted to quit my job.
- My Father refused to support me and said if I wasn’t able to clear it in my late twenties then how can I clear it in my early thirties with so much more responsibilities.
- I thought it is all over.
- Decided to pursue CA whether anyone supports me or not.
- One day when I returned from office I saw some people taking my mother to the hospital, she had three heart attacks and within one hour she was no more. I was devastated and shocked. How can this happen? I had to show my mother my CA degree.
- I was very upset for around 6 months.
- My wife was pregnant. The whole year went by going to Doctor and taking care of my wife.
- Now I started to wonder how will I complete my CA. This is getting extremely difficult.
- In January, my lovely daughter was born. I was even more eager to become a CA. I decided to study one subject and to score an exemption in it.
- I had made up my mind that I would later request my dad to support us for a year. One day while I was in the office, my wife called up and told me that my father was not well! When I reached home, I saw my father wasn’t able to walk, he lost his bladder and bowel movements. It was so painful to see him suffer. He had spinal cord surgery (October). I had to spend one week in the hospital. This was the most stressful time for me. Now he was totally dependent on me. So the plan to quit my job and focus only on CA had to be canned!
- Also, during this period I had some meetings in the office where I was made to feel very inferior about myself!
Decided to quit my job and focus 100% to become a CA
In Jan 2019, my father recovered and started walking by himself. I knew this was my last chance to give my CA Final exams wholeheartedly. I told my father I can’t live this kind of life, I had to complete my CA. I resigned from my job the very next day. I was 36 years old.
My wife and I estimated that we have enough savings to sustain for 1.5 years. I had to become CA in 1.5 years, it was a do or die kind of a situation.
Feb 14, 2019, was the last day in my office. Everyone in the office warned me about this decision, they said - I would ruin my family’s life. I just told them to wait and watch!
Finally qualifying as a CA against all odds
Even though I had less than 2 months, I started preparing for the May'19 attempt. My plan was to score exemptions in at least 2 subjects - Indirect Taxation and Financial Management (SFM).
Starting all over wasn't easy! It was so difficult to even write quickly as I lost the habit of writing. I prepared for these two subjects diligently for 3 months, wrote the papers, and got an exemption in both. Bingo, now I had the confidence that I can do it.
After May 2019 I started coaching for Group 2 remaining three papers. Studied daily with full dedication. Gave the exam in Nov 2019 cleared with two more exemption. Now I had cleared Group 2 and had only Group 1 to clear...I also had an exemption in one paper in Group 1.
Now I thought, I will be a CA in May 2020 surely. But the struggle was not over yet.
Around Nov 2019, my wife and I were expecting our second child. So with studies, I had to take her to the doctor regularly and at times even look after our other daughter! Managing all this was an arduous task.
April 2020 was the delivery and May 2020 was exams! Even during the three days in the hospital with my wife (I had to be there as no other person was allowed due to corona), I studied daily in the hospital room.
It was the first lockdown period and luckily paper got postponed for 1 month! However, the lockdown continued and the exams kept getting postponed!
By now my father also lost his job also. I now had the responsibility of the entire family and with no source of income, my savings were depleting. But I knew I had to keep pushing as I was very close to the finish line!
I gave my exam with full dedication in Nov 2020 and I finally passed my CA Final exams that attempt.
It still feels like a dream. Now I am in the process of deciding my career choice.
I hope my story ignites the passion among those students who think it is impossible to become CA or who are feeling stuck in CA.
My suggestion, to those who are continuously giving attempts after attempts with no success, is that they should take a break for one attempt and detox their mind! Then come back with more vigour and study daily.
For those who are starting their CA journey after a long gap, first, take two subjects and try to score exemption in them. Then give the rest group one by one.
Hope you all get some inspiration for your journey as well.
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