This ex-Reliance Treasury manager started a CA Practice. A decade later they are a team of 40 with international clients.

How this CA started his practice from scratch with little capital

  • Hi, I am Archit Shah, a Chartered Accountant (CA), and Managing Partner at M A A K & Associates.
  • My career plan was simple; get corporate exposure for 5 years (at least), save up my salary and I am good to venture out.
  • But soon I realized there will never be a perfect time, and it is better to face the challenges early on.
  • With that in mind, I set up my practice in 2012, with little savings and lots of ambition; today we are a team of 40. 

Back story

After passing 12th standard with flying colours I was trying to decide on an undergrad major.

I sat down to discuss this with a relative of mine, who was a professor. He told me “Archit, you should opt for the CA and MBA courses. I can assure you, if you can crack both of them you’ll have a bright future.” 

Taking his advice along with my father’s guidance, who had also been a professor at a commerce college I went ahead with CA, along with an MBA Programme.

To let you know, I passed my CA Final exams on my second attempt, but with an All India Rank 3! (My first failure eventually turned into a success.) 

After qualifying as a CA in 2010, I decided to move to either Mumbai or Pune. I wanted to gain some corporate exposure away from home. My plan was simply to work for 5 years, save up INR 25 lakhs (approx $40k) and start something of my own

Through ICAI’s Campus placement program I got selected for the Treasury Department at Reliance Industries - an Indian multinational conglomerate company that has a revenue of approx US$99 billion. I took it up.

But two years into the job I realised, that it’s always going to be tough to start something of my own. It’s better to face challenges early on in life.  

What next?

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Taking the route of CA Practice. Will it work out?

Before I left my job I had two options; either start my practice from scratch or accept the offer made by my father’s friend, who was a CA practitioner "If you pay me 3.5x of my existing revenue, you can buy my firm.”

My dad and I did all the capital budgeting equations to find out the payback period and ROI. In fact, I was negotiating with him for 3x.

But then reality struck. 

I decided not to spend my father’s hard-earned money on someone else’s intangible assets. Instead, I asked him to invest in an office so that I could start my practice from scratch. 

With the thought process, “I can get another job if I am unsuccessful, but I need to at least take up the challenges and accept the result.”

I resigned from Reliance in 2012 and started a proprietorship firm.

Also Read

This CA quit a cushy job, faced failures, became a GST Expert and now runs a successful CA Practice with large corporates as clients

Overcoming challenges running a CA Firm 

All the options that were planned out before leaving my job didn’t work out, and challenges started widening. It did make me think “Did I select the wrong option?” Despite that, I knew that I needed to wait and put in the effort with a positive mindset.

I was running a proprietorship firm for a year and a half, but soon I realized that if I wanted to scale, I needed to have a diversified team.

Right around that time, I bumped into Kenan Satyawadi who had left his job at Deloitte to start his CA practice. Through him, I met Marmik Shah another practising CA.  

After discussing our plans, we joined hands and decided to grow together and reach the next level. In December 2013, M A A K & Associates was born in Ahmedabad, India.

We advise companies on their business structure to improve the processes, and fundraising, and make them understand the value of their business, beyond handling statutory compliances. Our clients include SMEs, listed companies, banks, NBFC, NRIs, and foreign companies. 

Handling assignments from all over India has helped us clock international assignments as well. 

CA Profession is always full of challenges as expectations from the government, client, and ICAI is always increasing, but dealing with those challenges made us stronger. 

Timeline of our firm and the challenges 

2012: The initial years were too tough. There weren’t many clients that wanted to trust a young practicing Chartered Accountant. The revenue had fallen drastically, as well as my salary. However, with the support of my father, and my wife Aditi who is also CA, I didn’t lose hope.

Eventually got connected to more clients and they started trusting me with more assignments. I handled the challenging tasks successfully which gave me and my clients confidence. 

2013 -2014: I partnered up with Kenan and Marmik. We started building improved processes with the right team, focusing more on learning and development. The firm’s pace started picking up gradually. We became a peer-reviewed firm to improve the standard of our practice, enabling us to become an auditor of the listed entities.

2015-2017: During this period many changes happened. A few amendments were made to business laws. To promote ease of doing business, the Indian government announced relaxation in statutory and compliance matters and statutory provisions.

Automation became prominent. This created new areas of opportunity for us.

2017-2019: The major breakthrough for our firm happened in 2017. This was the time when we started gaining momentum. With so many new changes made by the government, the need for the right CA arose. We started expanding our team, adopting the right tools. 

2020: In 2020 Covid 19 came with a new set of challenges, and we learned the lessons to deal with uncertainty and work remotely.

2021-2022: Very recently we set up a new office in Mumbai. We have grown to a strong team of 40 members. We have around 10 listed companies in our clientele base. 

Indian CA firms have immense opportunities across the globe. We can see them contributing significantly to the economy in the coming years, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many CA firms have already established outsourcing and offshore practice abroad. 

We too would like to open our offices in foreign countries as well in the future.

Also Read

Starting your own CA practice as a fresher is full of challenges. This CA firm couldn't get clients for almost a year then in 1998 Indiamart.com became its first client, giving the firm a leg up.

Wrapping up... 

By the time we clear three levels of the CA course we are presented with several opportunities; starting your practice is one of them.

If you wish to start your practice, first figure out what area you want to specialize in. 

Are you going to start a sole proprietor firm or a partnership firm? When that question is answered and you’ve set up your practice, now it’s time to get to work.

The first tip, you have to act like a professional entrepreneur. It is very important to ask for your fees in advance, that’s what I’ve learned after countless follow-ups with clients regarding payments. (It can be really tiring sometimes, I know).

You have to ask for what your services are worth and be confident about it. 

When you start your practice, you usually have limited funds, but we CAs all have learned a concept called activity-based costing, haven't we? If we implement an activity-based costing model it will help us in the long run. 

We have to stay updated on a day-to-day basis. The world, more specifically the Finance Industry is evolving. 

If I could go back in time I would definitely focus on building the right team, setting up the right processes, and implementing the right technologies and tools at the earliest possible. 

Last but not least believe in yourself, and have patience. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

 

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Contact chantelle@thefinancestory.com in the first instance.

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