My Experience as a Chartered Accountant Intern At BDO (Transfer Pricing)

The Finance Story

Sharing the journey of Sayan Banerjee  an Article Assistant in the Tax and Regulatory Services Division at BDO India LLP, Kolkata

He is currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). 

Even after clearing IPCC Group 2 in his 3rd attempt he still applied to BDO in their Transfer Pricing team and got selected.

MY JOURNEY AS A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT

I am from a traditional Bengali family of Engineers and Doctors.

I am the only person in my entire family to pursue a career in Chartered Accountancy (CA).

Having said that it is the dream of every Chartered Accountant (CA) student to pursue their articleship from a Big 4 accounting firm and I was no different.

I am not the rank holder type but I can safely say that I am academically sound and belong to the top 10 percentile of my class be it in school or college.

After my class 12 board exams, I joined the bandwagon of CA aspirants and enrolled for CPT classes (CPT is 1st level CA exam from ICAI) and in between my 12th standard results was also declared.

I took admission in St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata with another 750 odd students.

I didn’t have much guidance from anyone in my family to pursue CA and likewise, all the decisions that I have taken are my own.

I had my fair bit of difficulty which I will touch upon later in the entire article.

CA IPCC Group 1 Journey:

I cleared CPT with ease and then came the time for my IPCC exams (2nd level CA exam consisting of 2 groups, Group1 and Group 2).

I took tuitions for CA IPCC while attending regular college.

So my day used to start at 6 am and end at 10 pm.

Honestly, it was a little difficult, primarily due to lack of insight and guidance.

I faced difficulty in planning my tuitions for IPCC, it might not be a problem for most but I did not have many acquaintances in this field and I had to primarily rely on the little guidance I received from my peers.

I continued with my tuitions and college simultaneously and eventually got used to the schedule.

I didn’t clear both groups of IPCC in my 1st attempt and that in itself was a little disappointing.

I thought that I had no chance of getting an opportunity as an intern in a Big Chartered Accountant Firm.

I started my preparation for IPCC Group 2 once again and chose to defer my term in hope of securing an articleship with a Big Chartered Accounting Firm.

Later on, I started with my articleship when I didn’t clear the 2nd time in IPCC Group 2.

Articleship experience in a Small Firm:

  • In small firms the work is of a varied kind so you can typically learn works like filing IT returns, GST returns, Statutory audits, Internal Audit, Tax audit, Loan documentation, ROC work etc.
  • So you will learn a lot of a different kind of work on a small scale with limited in-depth exposure in each of the line of services.
  • I worked in a Bank audit assignment for 1 season and learned a great deal of how a bank operates internally.
  • I also interacted with Income Tax Officers communicated to them regarding various client assessment matters. I drafted replies for assessment notices served by the Income-tax department and the Sale tax department.
  • The work in small firms is usually not so well organized and the clients are not so cooperative.
  • The quality of work at small firms is also not on par with the Big Firms, so in terms of your holistic development and learning there will always be some degree of limitation.
  • However, all is not bad, the environment in small firms is very family like and the work timing along with the leave policy are flexible even though they pay you peanuts (you shouldn’t be worried about how much you make, now the learning is more important).
  • The other benefit is that small firms are also flexible in terms of attending tuitions/ coaching classes.
  • If you want to start your own CA Practice - A small/mid-sized firm is the best place to learn everything from scratch.

CA IPCC Group 2 and taking a transfer to Big 10 firm (BDO):

  • I gave my best and cleared my IPCC Group 2 in my 3rd attempt. It felt great however my desire to join a big firm for articleship was still alive.
  • After clearing my IPCC Group 2, I came across an opening in the Direct tax team of BDO Kolkata on LinkedIn.
  • I applied immediately by emailing them my CV and reaching out to the respective person via LinkedIn.
  • I received a call within a week followed by an interview with the Manager(s) of the respective team with the vacancy.

MY FIRST DAY AT BDO, KOLKATA

  • I reached the office half an hour early since it was my first day and to my surprise, I found that already a lot of people were present in the office and had begun there day.
  • I was greeted by the HR personnel at the office.
  • Later I was introduced to the various seniors of my team and everyone gave me a warm welcome.
  • I had a meeting with my Manager regarding the work proceedings and how I would be contributing to my team, my role and a brief planning.
  • Later that day my Manager introduced me to the Partner of our team, the driving force of the firm. I had a pleasant discussion with him and I was formally welcomed by him into the BDO family.
  • Soon it was 7 pm and it was time to pack my bag and head back home.
  • To me it was a dream come true, I was a part of the corporate world and I was like the Mike Ross out from the sets of Suits, the inner me shouted out aloud in my excitement.
  • A brand new laptop (it felt so amazing!), BDO stationary and corporate email ID was issued to me within a week.
  • The best of all - They created a corporate email ID in my name and they allocated me a separate work desk.

TYPICAL WORK DAY LIFE AT BDO

  • The typical workday in my life is like - I wake up at around 6 am and study for 1.5 hours and leave home for office by 8:30 am.
  • I reach office by 10 am and start my work that includes - A variety of work ranging from study and research regarding various aspects of Direct Taxation and Transfer Pricing (TP), excel work and some client meetings, preparing presentations, benchmarking and various other compliance work.
  • During the day I take a 10 min stroll down the street to relax my mind from the clutter.
  • On most days we have a lot of internal meetings and discussions regarding work throughout the day and a lot of learning happens during these time.
  • The day ends at around 8 pm and I head back home (but many days the work hours extend beyond 8 pm).
  • After reaching home I relax for a while like an hour or so with family (conversations with family/close friends really help!).
  • Post that I usually try to study something for an hour before going to bed.
  • I stay far away from my office and it takes around 1 hour 30mins to travel one way so at times I keep some reading during this commute time.

WORK ENVIRONMENT AT BDO

  • The work and learning environment at BDO is WONDERFUL.
  • The firm is full of vibrant young people who are very energetic and they keep you energized and motivated so you feel good about yourself even after a typical 9 to 10 hours of work in a day.
  • On the other hand, the seniors at the firm are extremely knowledgeable professionals in their respective fields so the learning that you gain from them is impeccable and is comparable to none.
  • I agree the work is very stressful and it really comes with a lot of sacrifices especially when it comes to your social life but then that is the bargain for such brand name and such specialized learning from the industry experts.
  • The life during articleship is already tough for CA students and working for a Big 10 makes this even more difficult and you will be required to push your limits.

BALANCING COACHING CLASS AND ARTICLESHIP

  • In terms of tuitions and studies for CA final along with articleship at a Big 10, the work schedule will be stringent so taking up tuitions in the morning and some pen drive classes will be the only option available.
  • The best way ahead is to fully utilize your weekends.

COMPARISON - SMALL FIRM AND BIG 10 ACCOUNTING FIRM 

  • The quality of work that you learn is altogether a different ball game in a Big 10 Chartered Accountant firm.
  • In Big 10 firms you are treated equivalently to an employee and not an intern so you need to work likewise.
  • The Big 10's are very particular about the quality of work and how presentable you are, for example, they minutely scrutinize even the way you staple a document or stamp a document.
  • In a Big 10, you become all the more polished as a professional and you become all the more presentable.
  • You adapt to the corporate world and professionalism is inculcated in your personality. You will learn to create your own self-brand which is important in the long run as per my seniors.
  • However, in a Big 10 you are restricted to a particular field of work and throughout your 3 years of articleship, you won’t be able to shift from that field.
  • So in a way your knowledge is in-depth in a single field and in the others, you won’t get any exposure.
  • But in case of a small firm, you will not be confined to a single field and you will get exposure in all fields which will help you find your core area of interest and will also be beneficial if you aspire to start your own practice in the future.
  • If you seek a job in the future, a Big 10 articleship experience will be a significant add-on value in your resume.
  • On the other hand, if you specifically want to pursue a career in consultancy in the Big 10 firms, then having an articleship in the Big 10 will help you get a significant advantage over your peers in the future.

TO CONCLUDE...

  • I agree that working in the Big 10 firms requires a lot of effort and hard work, in the end, all that hard work is worth the learning, experience, and exposure that you will gain from the firms.
  • I will definitely suggest if you get an opportunity to pursue your articleship with these firms take full advantage of the same, if not then at least apply to these firms and don’t lose hope because good things do happen you just need to BELIEVE in yourself and hang on long enough to see the change happen.
  • I cleared my IPCC Group 2 in my 3rd attempt and I still got selected at BDO in one of the best profiles so DO NOT LOSE HOPE if you are not clearing IPCC to keep pushing - he concluded.

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