From an Accounting firm to a Licensed Auditor in Malaysia: How this CA and mother of two took her career to the next level

  • Hi! I am Jovani Reddy Chinniah, a Licenced Auditor, Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and also a qualified member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).
  • Hailing from Mauritius, I am French-speaking and have been calling Malaysia home for the last 12 years.
  • While heavily pregnant with my second child and during the global pandemic, I decided to take my business to the next level and become a Licensed Auditor. 
  • As founder and managing partner of Jovani & Co Chartered Accountants, I specialize in providing accounting and audit services, and I am known for simplifying accounting issues for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

From Mauritius to Malaysia 

From the day I heard about the ICAEW from a family friend, I set my mind to be a Chartered Accountant and to qualify with what many consider the “Rolls-Royce” of the accounting profession.

Whilst there were no other ICAEW Chartered accountants in my family, my parents and family friends were all giving me their support and encouragement to pursue this qualification.

Furthermore, I knew that with the limited number of ICAEW members, I would be in demand in the finance world.

I chose the University of Nottingham to study Finance, Accounting, and Management as I was awarded the High Achievers Scholarship.

The University of Nottingham allowed me to study at its Malaysia campus (a warmer climate) and also offered me the flexibility of having a stint at its UK campus.

Malaysia is like Mauritius in many ways – the good food, the friendly people, and the good weather. It was not hard to call Malaysia home.

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Getting the “Rolls – Royce”

The ICAEW qualification is demanding indeed as it requires one to juggle both their working experience together with their ICAEW examinations.

There were times I felt it was too much and thought of quitting. The long hours during peak audit seasons and the high standards of the ICAEW program can take their toll.  

But with the support of my parents, employer, and close friends, I managed to muster enough energy and determination to obtain this prestigious qualification.

As fate would have it, I also married an ICAEW Chartered Accountant – we met at our ICAEW Annual Ball. The running joke is that I got both the 3 letters, “MRS” and “ACA” attached to my name at the same time!

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From Accounting Practice to a Licensed Auditor – not an easy feat!

I started my career when I was working in an audit firm in Malaysia whilst pursuing my ICAEW qualification.

After clocking in more than 12,000 hours in audit, I decided to open my accounting practice in 2019 - Jovani Consultancy Services.

Everything was going on well but somewhere in 2020 I was determined to take my business to the next level - I wanted to be a Licensed Auditor so I could be able to sign audited reports and give opinions. And to do so I had to be a Certified  Public  Accountant. (This was also something that my late dad had shared with me – his only child pursuing an illustrious career as a Certified Public Accountant.) 

What next?

So, I took up the challenge in 2020 whilst I was heavily pregnant with my second child - with the constant cravings, mood swings, and catering to raising a toddler.

Was I nuts? Well, I thought it was now or never. I had the energy, time, and determination to get the license.

Mind you, this was not an easy feat as I had to prepare to be interviewed by the representatives of the Ministry of Finance and other regulators to assess if I was experienced and capable enough.

I am also proud to have fulfilled my late dad’s wish. More so, I understand that I am one of the youngest amongst the 1,800 licensed auditors in Malaysia.

Honestly, the whole journey was not easy, but I always believe that the greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. And I can attest to that.

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Starting out on my own in the middle of a pandemic

After obtaining my License, I established my audit practice called Jovani & Co Chartered Accountants.

Frankly, my biggest worry was whether I could make it or not. I started by working from home and it was already hard then to build a client portfolio.

As expected, I did not have a set of clients and had to start from scratch. Building trust with clients and establishing credibility was important to build the client base.

Unexpectedly, the Covid-19 pandemic then hit us a couple of months down the road. We could not go out to the network or have face-to-face meetings with prospective clients. This made it hard to build connections and trust.

To add salt to the wound, the continual lockdown has caused companies to face cash flow difficulties giving rise to lower fee expectations and slower collections, and has made it difficult for us to carry out external financial audits – which is my “bread and butter”.

Was I nervous? Yes, but I had to pivot. Holding virtual meetings, communicating more often with clients, and providing new services (for example, advising on cash flow forecasts and working capital management) has helped my practice to navigate during this crisis.

Was it challenging? Yes, extremely so. There were times I thought about whether I chose the right path.

But I am very grateful to my family and friends for their continuous encouragement and support.

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Balancing not just the books!

Juggling between work and family is, indeed, demanding.  We live in times of work-life integration and we have to constantly multi-task.

Fortunately, we are technologically connected all the time and those are the present circumstances we need to accept and take advantage of.

Being your own boss gives you the flexibility, especially when you have young children, but it requires a lot of effort, dedication, sacrifices, clocking in the late-night hours to build your business.

Many times, I will need to adjust my schedule to work late in the night after putting the kids to bed. Having said that, I always make it a point to disconnect when I need to. Weekends are family time only.

Want to start your own CA Practice?

If you want to pursue your career as a chartered accountant or licensed auditor - go for it. There may be challenges along the way, but never give up.  

I believe that perseverance and discipline are key when it comes to achieving your goals. Set them high and continuously invest in learning to help you overcome any challenges or difficulties that may come your way.

A lot of patience and family support go a long way too. Keep up with the people around you.

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