ICAI students demand higher stipends; interns work over 150 hours and are paid as low as $50 per month. Is this fair?
If you are pursuing Chartered Accountancy in India then you must complete a mandatory 3-year Articleship. But, the stipend for articles can be meagre. Let’s see what people on LinkedIn have to say.
- Articleship is a mandatory 3-year practical training in Chartered Accountancy.
- CA students acquire professional work experience and figure out which area they would want to gain expertise in.
- However, the current stipend structure is meagre, and many Chartered Accountants are taking to social media to voice their concerns.
The Importance of CA Articleship
If you are pursuing Chartered Accountancy from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India - ICAI then you must know that pursuing a CA articleship is mandatory.
It is a 3-year practical training that you have to acquire. ICAI has made it compulsory for every CA student to complete the first 2 years of Articleship under a practising Chartered Accountant.
It is the first time you get professional work experience. You get to explore different types of work and can figure out which area you would want to gain expertise in.
It is mandatory for the CA Firms to pay stipends to the article trainees. However, the amount can be meagre, as many CA students and members have rightly pointed out.
Current stipend structure for chartered accountant students
Before we dive into what people on LinkedIn are saying, let’s look at the current stipend structure set by the ICAI.
- For the cities/towns having a population of 20 lakhs and above, the stipend per month during the first year, second year and during the remaining period of training shall be a min of Rs. 2000, Rs. 2500, and Rs. 3000 respectively.
- For cities/towns having a population of 4 lakhs and above but less than 20 lakhs, the stipend per month during the first year, second year and the remaining period of training shall be a min of Rs. 1500, Rs. 2000, and Rs. 2500 respectively.
- For cities/towns having a population of fewer than 4 lakhs, the stipend per month during the first year, second year and the remaining period of training shall be a min of Rs. 1000, Rs. 1500, and Rs. 2000 respectively.
These are the minimum stipend rates set by the ICAI, and firms are free to decide on the maximum rates.
ICAI released a draft notification about increasing the stipend rate, in 2022. While it has not been finalized yet, it has surely sparked a conversation among CAs on LinkedIn.
Time for a Stipend Revision: Are CA Articles getting their due?
Meet Harsh Gupta, an Article Trainee at one of the Big 4 firms.
In a LinkedIn post, Harsh let out everything he had in mind about the stipend big firms offer.
“It's time to revise the standards of stipend so that we also feel valued,” he wrote.
The frequency of stipend revision in the Big 4 accounting firms for Chartered Accountants can vary. It depends on several factors, including market conditions and the firm's financial performance.
However, it is generally expected that these firms review and adjust their stipends periodically to remain competitive in the industry.
This can happen annually, bi-annually or sometimes every few years, depending on the firm's policies and performance.
But Harsh mentioned that the last revision of stipend in Big 4 took place in early 2017.
Harsh also states that increase in CPI from 2017 to Jan 2023 is of around 35%. If revision is made as per CPI then Big 4s stipend will look like this:
- First year: ₹20k instead of ₹15k
- Second year: ₹27k instead of ₹20k
- Third Year: ₹34k instead of ₹25k
Inspired by Harsh’s post, Nikunj Bhavana Kikani also took to LinkedIn to express his views.
Nikunj is a Chartered Accountant, and an MBA (Master of Business Administration).
He recalls that as a CA intern, he earned Rs. 2.25 Lac for 30 months working a min of 6 hours day, while as an MBA intern he earned Rs. 2.40 Lac for 2 months as a stipend!
“Is it because of the skill gap or demand-supply?” asks Nikunj.
CA students possess enough skill sets to deserve a reasonable stipend, and there isn’t an excess supply of CA interns in the market, according to him.
“Once, I was discussing with a reputed CA, and he mentioned that CA interns should focus on their studies and not worry much about the stipend. At this stage, I completely disagree with this argument. In my opinion, CA Interns are the most disciplined community, and they know where to invest and waste their time.”
Here is how people reacted;
What people on LinkedIn are saying…
Chartered Accountants believe that a low stipend can negatively impact financially disadvantaged article trainees.
This is especially true for those who join after completing their BCom. Expecting them to sustain themselves in metropolitan cities with less than INR 15,000 per month can be unrealistic.
Living expenses such as rent and food can hinder their ability to focus on their studies and perform to their full potential.
It is important to recognize their hardships and provide fair compensation for their hard work and dedication.
A few CAs also said that a lower stipend for article trainees is a wider industry practice, not just limited to Big 4 firms.
Speaking up for all article trainees, especially those receiving a meager 2,000 rupees per month, is crucial. Securing an articleship position at a Big 4 firm is a valuable learning experience for CA students, despite the lower stipend.
Those who can't secure a Big 4 position and receive even lower stipends also deserve attention and action.
Articleship is an integral part of Chartered Accountancy in India, providing aspiring CAs with invaluable practical experience.
The training provides an opportunity for CA students to observe and learn from experienced professionals. It enables them to develop the necessary skills and expertise to become competent and reliable professionals.
It is important to recognize the dedication and hard work of article trainees and provide them with fair compensation for their efforts.
However, the stipend amount should not be the only factor in deciding whether to work for a particular firm as the quality of the training and exposure is also crucial.
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