Pathway for Indian CAs Seeking Canadian CPA Designation: This CA shares how she prepared for CPA Canada exams.

  • Are you interested in pursuing CPA Canada?
  • Chanda Kuber, Chartered Accountant shares the exact steps she took to pass the Canadian CPA Exams.
  • Presently Chanda is working as a Manager for Financial Reporting and Policy Colliers in Toronto, Canada.

Back Story

I immigrated from India to Canada in mid-2016, beginning a new chapter in my life. I realized early on that having a Canadian CPA degree would make my job search easy and it surely did!

So from the get-go, I was keen on learning Canadian Accounting standards and Tax systems.

My work experience, CA degree from India, and my interest in pursuing CPA Canada, helped me get a contract position at a Big 4 firm, within a few months after landing in Canada.

So I would recommend finance professionals/ Accountants moving to Canada or already in Canada, to pursue CPA Canada.

It would be a great value addition.

Pathway to Canadian CPA 

CPA is certainly one of the most respected professions in Canada and around the world.

Similar to the states in the US, Canada has provinces and each province has its own regional accounting body. However, Canada has merged its accounting qualification (CA, CMA and CGA) into one big CPA Designation.

While CPA Canada is the national level organization to support the unification of the Canadian accounting profession, there are provincial and territorial CPA bodies that work to regulate the profession. I registered with CPA Ontario.

The pathway to becoming a CPA depends on the educational degrees held by the candidate.

So basically to become a Canadian CPA you have to give the following exams:

  • Core 1 and 2 which consists of 6 courses
  • Elective 1 and 2: These are basically two exams
  • Capstone 1 and 2 these are learning modules
  • Final Common Final Examination (CFE): It is a three days exams
  • Additionally, there is a requirement to complete 30 months of approved practical training.
  • Pursuing the course in its entirety usually takes 3-4 years similar to the Indian CA course.

For CFE, provided below is the list of topics: 

Pathway For Indian CAs Seeking Canadian CPA Designation

I struggled a bit to clear the CPA Exams.

Under the new MoU between ICAI and CPA, Ontario, Indian CAs are generally exempted from the following:

  • Core 1 and Core 2
  • Electives
  • Capstone 1 and Capstone 2

To qualify for the exemption, an assessment of qualifications is usually done by CPA office at the time of registration. I had to give only two exams:

  • Capstone 1 and 2: Become optional as per the new MOU, always good to register for this course
  • Common Final Examination (CFE): CFE is a case-based test

Practical Experience: There are forms available on the website that are to be filled by all the reporting managers one has worked within their prior work experiences. These forms are then submitted to the CPA office, they are reviewed to assess the number of months of practical training required for admission to membership.

Also Read

This Finance Professional Moved to Canada, Found a Job, Purchased a House and Passed Her CPA, All in a Year

My Journey Preparing For CPA Canada First Attempt 

I qualified for exemptions available in the MoU between ICAI and CPA Canada.

And so I enrolled ONLY for the Common Final Examination course (CFE) and Capstone (though exempted under MoU it is always good to register for this course).

1. Capstone

  • The Capstone courses focus on group projects and presentations as well as self-study and practice.
  • These have now become optional as per the new MOU. I will certainly recommend opting for Capstone 2 as it instills the habit of practicing cases and marked by the National marking centre which provides great insight on your performance in case writing.

2. Common Final Examination (CFE) CPA Canada 

While I was focusing on my full-time job, I realized that the CPA – CFE exam was hardly two months away.

Trying to balance work (or finding one) and making sure adequate time is allocated for studying was one of the biggest challenges I faced.

With whatever time left, I started preparing for exams and regularly practiced cases.

I had access to the course materials provided by CPA, Ontario, simultaneously I reviewed the solutions for prior examinations

I felt very comfortable with the technical aspect of the exam, what was most challenging was the case-based format of the exams. There is a very specific approach to be followed while attempting case-based tests, and I got confused due to the lack of clarity.

The results turned out as expected and I didn’t clear the exams on the first attempt.

I was very upset with the results as it involved a lot of effort, time and money.

Also Read

How this Indian CA started his accounting career from scratch after Immigrating to Canada

Passing CPA Canada on my Second Attempt

With encouragement from my loved ones, I got back on the bandwagon and started preparing for my next attempt. This is what I did:

1. Signed for Private Classes

  • I signed up for private classes and started practicing 4-5 months before the exams.
  • Attending private classes turned out helpful to me because it helped me focus on my case writing and at the same time direct my attention to the relevant technical material.
  • If there was one thing I could change, I would have signed for private classes sooner.

2. Corrected my mistakes

  • Correcting the mistakes, I had made in the past gave me strength.
  • Based on my experience, during my first attempt, I spent a lot of time perfecting the technicals, however, I ended up ignoring the thought process needed for case writing.
  • So I worked on this as well.

3. Practiced case-based tests

  • I was ready to sacrifice everything and was fully committed to giving my best shot in the second attempt.
  • With a lot of practice, I got more comfortable attempting case-based tests and in fact, it refined my thought process in line with what is expected of a CPA.

I felt more confident, planned my responses, completed the exam within the stipulated time frame.

I will never forget the moment the results were announced in November 2018, I was now a qualified Canadian CPA.

My parents had come all the way from India to help and support me during my exams and I was so glad to share this moment with them.

In Conclusion...

Looking back, I am glad I started all over again and made Canada my new home. It was a great learning process and I value my journey embracing the positives and negatives.

I am very proud to call myself a Canadian CPA, imbibing Canadian values, and confident enough to work in a Canadian work environment.

I am not embarrassed about the fact that it took a few attempts to finish these courses as it is in no way a measure of my intelligence or commitment.

It did involve a lot of frustrating moments, fear of losing confidence in myself, questioning my ability, and even considering the option of giving up.

A lot of people reading this article could relate to my story and understand the struggles.

Now It's Your Turn...

Have you considered pursuing CPA Canada?

Or are you already a Canadian CPA?

Let us connect in the comments.

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