- Meet Rohitt Kapur, Chief of Finance at Beumer, who qualified as a CA in 2013, and Mohit Kapoor, Finance Manager (FP&A) at PayPal, based in San Jose, US, who achieved the same feat in 2006.
- What do they have in common? Both of them took multiple attempts to pass the CA exams, but they refused to let that one setback define their career paths.
- They will share their experiences with CAs currently struggling to pass the exams and want to build successful careers.
TFS: Take us through your CA journey. How was it and how long did it take you to qualify?
Mohit: I embarked on my CA journey in 1997, while simultaneously enrolling in my undergraduate degree.
After passing the CA Foundation exam on my first attempt I started my articleship. Passing the Intermediate exams, however, took me a few attempts.
Afterward, I worked with Nangia Andersen, one of the partner firms of Andersen Global, for about a year.
In 2005, I was lucky enough to get a chance to work with Deloitte in their Audit & Assurance vertical. I worked with them for a couple of years, and in 2006 passed my CA Final exams.
It was a long journey of 9 years but I am glad I persisted and completed it.
Rohitt: My journey is a bit different.
I enrolled for the CA and Company Secretary courses simultaneously. This was in 2001.
After completing the Foundation exam for both of those programs, I started my articleship.
Surprisingly, I was able to pass the CS Intermediate exam very easily, but it took me about two years to pass the CA Intermediate exam.
I qualified as a Company Secretary in December 2006.
The real challenge arrived after 2007 when I had completed the CA Final Group 1, and my articleship, but not the CA Final Group 2.
Since I had the responsibility to provide for my family, I started working in the corporate world as a semi-qualified CA and continued to appear for the CA Final exam every term.
It took me seven years, but I finally passed CA Final Group 2. In November 2013, I acquired the title of “qualified Chartered Accountant”.
Mohit: Since I was working in my uncle’s firm in Lucknow, who was also a mentor to me, I was allowed to take long study leaves.
However, when I joined Nangia Andersen, the number of leaves that I could take was reduced.
It was difficult for me to ask for holidays during that time. On some occasions, I had to go without pay in order to get a few days of study leaves.
When I qualified for CA Final Group 1, I only managed to take a four-day leave and still passed.
I remember working until about 7 pm the night before the exam.
Rohitt: I started my career right after completing my articleship.
As part of my role, I was responsible for the entire gamut of accounting, direct taxation, indirect taxation, and secretarial work. The exposure to different kinds of work was immense.
I was single-handedly managing the entire staff and sometimes had to attend work-related calls, even at night.
The promoter of the company was unaware of the kind of qualification I was pursuing, hence only granting me two or three days of leave for the exams.
Asking for a two weeks leave was a nightmare.
After having worked for a year or so, I was still unable to clear the exams. That’s when I thought to myself “My priority would be to pass the exams, even if I lose this job in the process.”
Thankfully, my employer understood the seriousness of the Chartered Accountancy, and I was granted 15 days of leave multiple times to prepare for the CA Final exam.
During my CA journey, I also got married and had a daughter, so I needed to give them time as well. But I never let my work or family be a distraction.
I used to study every day for at least half an hour, after coming back from work. To keep the habit of studying alive, I would start with a subject that I was most interested in, such as accounting or costing.
TFS: Despite taking multiple attempts to pass the CA exams, what kept you going? How did you manage to stay motivated seeing your friends succeed and progress ahead?
Mohit: I received a lot of support from my family, friends, and relatives during my long CA journey.
Some of my friends also took multiple attempts, so we would joke around and try to lift each other’s spirits.
However, there were times when I thought about giving up on CA and pursuing other career paths.
I took the Common Admission Test (CAT) to enroll for an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and even applied to a few business schools outside of the country.
But at the end of the day, when I would go for interviews as a semi-qualified CA, my mind would say “I need to complete my CA journey, as my end goal is to become a finance professional.”
Keeping that in mind, I kept appearing for the exams, working, and learning. As I gained experience, I realized the value of the CA designation in the corporate world.
Yes, I took several years to become a CA, but on the bright side, it made me more mature and patient.
Rohitt: When you are not able to pass the remaining CA exams, even after trying for two-three years, the fear of failure starts to haunt you.
But that fear also kept me motivated to work hard and study.
All of my friends had passed the exam on their first attempt, which was kind of demotivating, but my family was always there to support me.
Mohit: As a qualified CA, I moved to the industry and got an opportunity to work with Becton Dickinson, one of the leading names in the medical device sector.
Fast forward to 2014, I joined PayPal as a Finance Controller in India.
Since 2021, I have been a Senior Manager for the financial planning and analysis team at PayPal.
I recently moved to the corporate office in San Jose, California, USA.
When you are starting your career, employers will ask you about the number of attempts you took. But later on, it will all depend on what you can offer to the company. Your capabilities and attitude will matter in the long run.
Show your prospective employer that even if you have taken multiple attempts, you are equally capable.
Rohitt: I have noticed that companies do treat you differently depending on whether you are qualified or not.
But my ability to showcase my worth, and assure my employer that I could bring great value to the company, set me apart.
Earlier, it was difficult for semi-qualified CAs to get a job. Nowadays, there are multiple options available to approach the job market.
From LinkedIn to Naukri.com, and WhatsApp groups, you can find opportunities through different channels.
During the semi-qualified period, your salary may be lower, but it will increase significantly once you become fully qualified.
Some companies with niche businesses may prefer to hire candidates who qualified on the first attempt or are rank holders.
That being said, try to prove to your potential employer that even if you have taken multiple attempts, it has made you patient and determined.
TFS: CA is a very well-respected qualification. But what other qualifications can people pursue if they want to build a career in finance?
Mohit: There are many other qualifications that you can obtain if CA is not your cup of tea.
These qualifications can give you an equal or even better advantage in the corporate world.
- You could go for an MBA program.
- The Chartered Certified Accountant (CCA) qualification from the Association of Certified Accountants is globally recognized. ACCA is highly recognized in India. It is also equally respected in the UK and the US.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is another program that many successful finance professionals have completed.
Rohitt: Some other equally valuable qualifications that are recognized in the finance sector are,
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is in high demand.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – be it US or Australia, is a highly recognized professional designation.
- There are many courses available that can teach you about the same.
- The capital markets industry is an up-and-coming area for employment. Many brokerage houses, such as Motilal Oswal and other large firms are hiring semi-qualified individuals.
TFS: What is your advice to those struggling to pass CA exams? If you were in a similar situation today, would you still go through the entire process?
Mohit: When it comes to my CA journey, yes I do believe that I could’ve passed the exams sooner had I been more disciplined.
That said, if I were in a similar situation today, I would not choose a different path other than CA.
Certainly, if you make a lot of attempts, it does leave a doubt in your mind, whether you’re worth it or not. And many people start looking for different careers.
So keep other options available as well, but ultimately do what you are passionate about. You should not leave any stone unturned.
Rohitt: In 2003 the pass percentage for the CA exams was 22.82%, but in 2022, the pass percentage dropped down to 11.91%.
It has drastically declined, but there is still hope.
Before enrolling for Chartered Accountancy ask yourself, “Why do I want to become a CA? Is it because my friends are doing it or my parents are telling me to? Or do I genuinely want to go through with this?”
If you have a clear goal, you will be more likely to succeed, even if you fail multiple times. But if you don’t, it’s better to stop at the first failed attempt and look for other opportunities.
And remember, the number of attempts does not define you. What is more important is the learning that you acquire.