This CA Firm couldn't get clients for a year then in 1998 Indiamart.com became its first client... giving it a new lease of life
CA firm couldn't get clients for almost a year then in 1998 Indiamart.com became its first client, giving the firm a leg up. He encourages to go for digital native clients.
- Hi, I am Mukesh Goel, a Chartered Accountant (CA) and Managing Partner at Mukesh Raj & Co.
- As a Hindi medium student, I was of the opinion that the Big 4 was out of my league.
- But the confidence to start something of my own showed me the way.
- After not getting a client for a year, in 1998 the founder of Indiamart.com walked in and it changed the course of my firm.
Qualifying as a CA after multiple attempts
Hailing from Bareilly, India my early school life was pretty average. But in 10th grade, my teacher’s immense encouragement pushed me to study diligently.
While pursuing my graduation in Commerce, I saw one of my cousins studying to become a CA.
I don't know why but knowing that it was one of the most coveted professions, I picked this path.
Coming from a small city, I moved to Delhi for my further studies and enrolled in the CA course.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, I qualified as a CA in July 1997. A fruitful journey.
Setting up a CA practice: Not an easy start
Since I was a Hindi medium student, my spoken English was not so refined.
Also, I was very shy, which I think holds true for some of us CAs, and knew from the get-go that the Big 4 was beyond my reach (only to realise later that it is not true).
But at the same time, I was and have been ‘Ready to take up any challenge that comes my way.'
I thought to myself, “So what the Big 4s are off limits, I will start my own practice.”
I was really confident in my strengths.
Initially, my friend joined me as a partner and we started a full-fledged practice on 5th October 1997 in a 12x10 sq. ft rented office in East Delhi.
Honestly, it wasn't easy starting on my own, and that too as a fresher. It was one of the toughest times that I have experienced.
We had no team members for almost a year, except for one office boy.
I didn’t get any clients for months. My parents gave me pocket money and at times I used to eat only once a day to save money.
To make the situation worse my Partner (co-founder of the firm) left he practice.
Getting the first client for my CA firm: Indiamart
People started advising me to return to my hometown, Bareilly.
It did make me question whether I should continue with it or not... but I pulled through every single day.
As luck would have it, one day Dinesh Agarwal, founder of Indiamart.com walked in and requested me to take care of the taxation and accounts of his newly set up startup.
Coincidentally their office was in the same building as mine.
Today it is one of India's largest online marketplace for manufacturers, suppliers & exporters. But back then they were just starting out.
In those days (1999), online companies were not very common and digital native clients were not very popular as it is today. But we went ahead.
He was my first client and we were the first auditor of this company. Since then there was no turning back.
Because of Indiamart I realized the power of the internet and being online.
I got to establish my firm’s online presence which brought me lots of new clients from around the world. I adopted new technologies to scale up my practice.
The Indian government’s new initiative ‘Digital transformation for the legal and compliance functions’ also played a huge role.
After a while, my wife CA Monika Goel joined me as a partner. With my wife beside me on this journey, my confidence grew multifold.
A look into the timeline of my CA practice
1997: This is the year when I started my practice. Went through a very tough time because of low revenue, but survived due to lower costs and neverending persistence.
1998-2001: Indiamart became our first client and we became their auditor in 1999. We were able to grow our online presence, and because of this, we started gaining more clients.
2001-2005: We shifted to a bigger office. Our team also started growing and eventually we acquired more than 200 clients.
Persistence does pay off.
2006 - 2008: During this period we grew organically. We did tons of audits for banks, and on the personal front, I bought my first house.
2009: This was a significant year during my firm’s journey as I decided to merge my firm with 2 other proprietary firms and established Mukesh Raj & Co.
We took this step to become eligible for government-related assignments and other large assignments. With the help of the merger, we formed a balanced team of experienced and young professionals.
Our number of clients reached 300+.
2011-2015: We got bigger audits from CAG. Our firm received assignments PAN India, acquiring 500+ clients.
Achieving this milestone was a really big deal for us, and we celebrated with our team, rightfully so.
2016-2020: Our team was growing hence we had to shift to an even bigger office. Now we started doing audits for listed entities.
2021-2022: Despite the pandemic striking us, we survived. And we added new specialized services like forensic audit and Virtual CFO services to our list of services provided.
Challenges our firm encounters
Forming a team with good execution skills is always the biggest challenge in our profession. And it wasn’t any different in our case.
The high attrition rate also affected the growth of our firm a few times.
The third challenge for us was and is onboarding new clients as the environment is getting increasingly competitive.
The fourth challenge is not getting valued for providing professional services. In India, many business owners underestimate the value chartered accountants can bring to their company.
And not getting payments on time can be a headache sometimes. We also get these types of clients every now and then. But we have become instinctive and try to onboard only genuine and dependable clients.
Opportunities for newly qualified CAs and digital clients give firms a new lease of life
There are certainly a lot of opportunities for freshly minted CAs.
New Era: With the arrival of crypto and digital assets, there will be a huge requirement for taxation and accounting of digital currency, forensic and investigative audits, etc.
That is why I would say, if you also want to start on your own, Start early.
Adopt the latest technologies to get maximum productivity and transparency in your firm.
Focus on specialization rather than providing multiple services.
CA Firms can increase revenue through advisory services: Advisory Services is the hottest thing right now. Our firm also focuses greatly on providing advisory services. We advise startups and other large businesses.
It has a bigger profit margin that even other services like audit and taxation can’t provide.
Sustainability: CA firms should also provide ESG and cyber security services, as we understand the value of data very well and handle it well.
Partnership: Form a bigger firm/network and join hands with more and more CAs. A small firm will have a very short lifespan in the coming years I believe.
There has been an ongoing discussion among the chartered accountant community "Still Indian CA firms haven't scaled significantly”
This question is not entirely true as there are 15-20 large Indian CA firms that have high revenue and more than 1000 employees.
Unfortunately, most of these bigger firms get acquired by Large International firms.
There is still hope, and we are also on the path to joining these top 20 firms in India.