Why I Quit My Job in the UAE to Start a CA Firm

The Finance Story

This is a difficult question to answer... Should I quit my job before starting a business?

In fact: In today's article, Moiz Ezzi, shares with us - How he decided to quit his well-paying job in the UAE to start his CA firm in India.

Moiz Ezzi is a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI, a Company Secretary from ICSI and a CPA from AICPA

He has previously worked in Reliance Industries (India) and Mayur Batra & Co (UAE) before starting his CA firm MSNJ & Associates in Ahmedabad, India. 

Here is his story.

My Decision – Becoming a Chartered Accountant

I grew up in a lower-middle-class family in Ahmedabad, India. My mother used to run a small grocery business from home while my father moved to Dubai when we lost everything in the 2002 riots. It wasn’t easy for us..infact it was a lot of struggle!

I was a brilliant and a very curious student at school who loved to read any book I could get my hands on.

While in the 8th standard at the age of 14, due to financial difficulties, I started giving tuitions to students younger than me. And I continued the same even while I was in class 10 and still managed to secure a state-level award scoring a perfect 100/100 in Maths.

Usually in India, after class 10, it is time for students to decide their future course of study - Science, Commerce or Arts. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur so I decided to opt for Commerce.

While in class 12, I also had to decide if I just wanted to continue with my Bachelor's in Accounting (B.Com) program or opt for some other professional qualifications along with my bachelor’s degree. I made a list of all the qualifications I could pursue along with my B.Com and evaluated each one of them. I had also fruitful discussions with my teachers and seniors - taking their advice on the possibilities of various qualifications. That is when I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy from ICAI...yes, I made an informed decision and so should you!

And from here, my CA story started. (Let’s begin!)

The journey of Becoming a CA

If you intend to pursue CA from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India), there are three levels namely CPT, IPCC, and CA-Final - which one has to clear along with three years of compulsory articles.

I cleared CPT in my first attempt with a very good score of 181/200. This made me very confident about myself in the first instance. I managed to clear my IPCC exams as well in the first attempt... yes, all smiles! I then started with my articles at BM Saraf & Co, a midsize Chartered Accounting firm in Ahmedabad.

Thankfully, during my articles, I got an opportunity to work in Taxation, Audits, and Corporate Compliances; amongst others. I was also able to learn some time management skills due to the deadlines of various laws.

During the last six months of my articles, I appeared for my CA Final exams and cleared the same with an All India Rank 38! Getting this rank meant so much to me. It made me believe that with hard work combined with smart work, everything is possible in this world.

My First Job: In a Big Corporate

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I got an opportunity to work with Reliance Industries Ltd, Mumbai with a package of INR 11.5 Lakhs per annum. I bagged this opportunity through the campus placement program organized by ICAI.

When I attended the interview at RIL - they asked me questions on the value I could add to RIL, the reason I chose RIL over others, questions on Ind-AS, IDS and many other latest updates. I answered as much as I could but my replies were nothing extraordinary.

However, when they asked me what you learned during your articles, I shared as much as I could about all my learnings. I was selected for RIL! (Woohoo!)

My learnings hereAs a newly qualified Chartered Accountant, you will not know everything. So do not freak out if you cannot answer every question. Just give your best when you are asked any questions. Do not forget to share your learnings during articles and how that learning/experience will help you perform well in the job role offered to you.

Quitting My Job To Move To The UAE

After working at Reliance Industries for one year, I decided to quit my job and pursue a CPA from AICPA. Here’s the catch - CPA exams cannot be given in India as they do not conduct their examinations here. The closest examination center to India was Dubai and so I decided to move to the UAE.

Around the same time, VAT was introduced in the UAE. So, I thought I will start my consultancy in Dubai as it was a booming market for Accountants.

Intending to give my CPA exams and start my consulting firm in the UAE, I moved to Dubai.

Once I reached here, I realized that it was not that easy as I had expected it to be. For a couple of months, I tried various things but to no avail. I understood that to start your venture in Dubai or anywhere in the UAE, one needs contacts and sound knowledge of the market....which I obviously lacked!

I found it quite difficult to understand the environment and the people. So I first decided to understand how things function here and then start my firm in the UAE. The only way for me to get first-hand understanding was by first working for someone else in the UAE.

So after almost two months in Dubai, I decided to apply for a job and gain the required experience. I put my CV on various portals but struggled to get called for interviews. It was later that I learned that I need to have a CV with a proper format. I revamped my CV, post which I immediately started receiving calls.

Finally, after 14 days of searching for a job I was selected at Mayur Batra Group, Abu Dhabi as a Senior Tax Executive. I got this opportunity through an online job portal.

What is the salary of a CA Fresher in the UAE? As a CA fresher, the bracket is AED 6k-7k in Consulting and AED 7k-8k in the industry (as of 2019). With experience and depending on relevance to the job role, this will increase. For a semi-qualified fresher the salary could be anywhere between 5k – 6.5K AED.

Quitting My Job in Abu Dhabi And Launching My Own CA Firm

People usually prefer to work in Dubai only because it is more convenient and easy to commute. Besides, Dubai is more lively and touristy that its’ sister Emirates. However, Abu Dhabi is a good city to work in and offers great opportunities for accountants and finance professionals due to infrastructural development and emerging business growth.

Also, life was going on well but I kept thinking if I was doing the right thing. My goal of moving to the UAE was - To start my firm and to complete my CPA. However, because of the market complexity, I could not start my consulting firm in the UAE right away and also because of the hectic workload at the office I had not time to study for my CPA exams....so in short none of my goals were accomplished!

Every day for nearly three months I kept questioning myself. And finally after working for almost 10 months,

I realized I had to do something about this. I decided to quit my job, which was quite a big decision. I was earning well but my action was not matching my vision.

I finally quit my job in Dec’18 and studied for a whole month and gave my CPA exams in Feb’19 in Dubai. I cleared my CPA exams and returned to Ahmedabad, India to start my own CA practice.

So this is my journey so far. Below are a few questions that could help you.

"How can you find a job in the UAE?"

Before moving to the UAE you need to take the following steps:

  1. Do your research in your home country

  • Before selecting a country, study the economic, political and business aspects of that country. Spend time to study in your home country and gain basic experience before moving abroad. (Unless you choose to study abroad and work as an intern/PTE student).
  • Corporates in normal cases will not select a novice from another country who has no experience in the business process. So you should be very well versed with the basics; for example - Accounts Payables, Accounts Receivables, Inventory, and such other areas to find a decent job in a new country.

  1. Work on your resume

  • To find a job in UAE, don’t just post your resume on job portals or request all references to send your resume to the HR. The most basic thing is to work on your Resume.
  • I am telling you this from my experience. Initially, I posted my resume on several job portals and ended up with little or no response. I redrafted and designed my resume and posted it again, and got an excellent response.
  • Some Handy CV Tips: Work on the design. Show what you do and not all that can be done in your role. Eliminate things you have done but not quite confident about it.
  • Don’t modify your resume for different job vacancies. I mean you can modify your resume to highlight certain experiences relevant to the job role that you are applying for. But take care to not modify the original content. When an applicant receives interview calls, they will generally not be familiar as to which version of their CV is referred to HR and may be less than confident on questions from that resume. So keep the content the same, and make just basic modifications to highlight the experiences relevant to the company you are applying for.

  1. Have a mission statement in your resume

  • Also as an applicant, one has to formulate a Mission statement in their resume.
  • For example, I will utilize my expertise and experience in XYZ areas and upscale myself for bringing an optimum solution for my organization and drive my energy for achieving the objects of my organization.

  1. Apply on various job portals

  • Applying through job portals is the best and the fastest option.
  • Also, go for paid services and don’t just expect to get a good job at no cost. Job portals offer services like premium, highlight, spotlight applicant, reviewed applicant, first to apply for any job posted, amongst many others.

  1. Interview calls will happen only when present in the UAE

  • Applying for a job in the UAE from your home country will not land you a job.
  • I got interview calls only after I mentioned I am available in the UAE on a Visit Visa. So buy a local SIM card and update your number on your CV.
  • So in short, you have to move to the UAE without a job on a Visit Visa. Once I started applying for jobs, I found my job in around 15 days.

How to Set up a Chartered Accounting Practice in India?

Before you intend to start your firm: 

  • Know WHY do you want to start your firm.
  • Know WHY do you want to start a CA firm. (If you have your ‘Why’ in place it will help you stay motivated during tough times.)
  • When I was quitting my well-paying job in the UAE to start my own CA firm, I had a lot of fears and a lot of questions. I am starting young but that does not mean I have no responsibility. I have to settle well to take care of my dependent family. When you start, don’t think what if something unfair happens.
  • Identify issues, find solutions and you will find the path ahead.

  1. Find the best way to tackle your inner fears

  • When you decide to start your own business you will have a lot of fears, let those fears show up. Do not suppress them. You might get so fearful to a point where you might feel not to quit your job to start your own CA firm.  Think about how lucrative job offers are, how much you can make.
  • Now think why your employer is thinking of hiring you. Start with this and think all the way around to build such business and hire yourself. This will give you enough motivation burning within to start on your own.

  1. Make a firm decision

  • The next step to start your own CA firm is to make a firm decision. Never have a fixed date, time or day to start your business. Once you decide to start on your own, give your best and start on the very same day. Start with whatever little money you have.
  • When I started my CA firm, I did have cash backed up for my day-to-day expenses and also for my family.
  • So, if you believe that your savings can last for at least 2-3 years, based on your estimated spending for the next three years or so, then you can take the plunge and start your CA firm if you are indeed very passionate about it.
  • Also before starting your business or CA firm practice, decide what you are ready to give up first. In my case, I decided to give up my salary for the next 5 years.
  • Note that starting a CA practice does not require loads of money. It is more of an investment in time than investment in money. You have to give a minimum of 3-5 years to establish yourself and do well further and beyond.

  1. Have a compatible business partner

  • If you wish to start a CA practice, search for a compatible partner.
  • With joint efforts, you will get a lot of synergy benefits.

  1. Explore the market

  • Choose your location, make a list of all firms in your location, services offered, find gaps.
  • Explore the unexplored areas.

  1. Have an online presence

  • Have an online presence outside the confined walls of your office. In today’s time and age, you cannot have a CA Firm which has no online presence. So make sure to have a website, attend seminars, network, write articles, etc.

Getting my First Client: A friend referred me to my first client. Sure, there is tremendous opportunity in starting on your own - it just needs time and willingness to explore it.

You see, there are a lot of stars out there like you and yet no one exactly like you. So do not be ever afraid of competition.

Before I Say Goodbye...

Before deciding on any qualification, make it a point that you understand its scope and why you want to pursue it in the first place. Most of us pursue CA or CPA or ACCA because everyone in our college, neighborhood or family is doing it; which is not always correct.

The same applies when moving to any new country, do your homework about the place well. Do not just land in a new country without knowing what to do next.

You do not have to necessarily quit your job to start something of your own. You can start a venture while working either full time or part-time. Or you can also work full time and hire someone else to manage your day-to-day activities. Of course, you got to be very careful over here, but this can be a very good option. It all depends on your business and your goals.

I am very grateful to all my teachers who supported me unconditionally. Whatever I am today is because of their support, blessings, and able guidance.

Now It's Your Turn...

Do you have a question for me?

Have you decided to start your own CA firm or business?

Do you know anyone who quit their job and started their own? Would you quit your job to start your own CA firm or business?

Excited to hear your comments and opinion!

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