What’s In A Name? CA or not to CA?

Ripesh Damania 13.11.2018

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a CA.

          What's CA? it is nor tax, nor treasury,
          Nor analysis, nor reports, nor any other part
          Belonging to an Accountant. O, be some other name!
          What's in a name? that which we call a CA
          By any other name would smell as sweet;
          So Accountant would,
were he not Chartered Accountant call'd,
          Retain that dear perfection which he owes
          Without that title. Accountant, doff thy name,
          And for that name which is no part of thee
          Take all myself.

In my last blog, I looked at what the difference a Chartered Accountant professional qualification could do for your career compared to a Certified Public Accountant qualification and what advantages each has. But what about the other professional affiliations and upskilling courses you can do to get ahead in this agile and ever-changing world of finance?

What about CFA? Or CIMA?

What does a CFA do? I hear you cry. Well, it is the Chartered Financial Analysts of the world. A notoriously difficult three stage professional qualification that focuses on in-depth analysis of areas such as investment risk, security analysis and financial services focused ethics and professional standards. In Level One alone, the areas covered include quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, and portfolio management and wealth planning.

Current average completion rate of the CFA is just 12.3% for all three levels compared to 10% for the CA programme and 50% for the CPA programme, so it is clear to see that it is not something to take lightly.

CIMA qualifications are often seen in overseas candidates - the management accounting focus draws candidates with a passion for the commercial business side of accounting to this qualification. You can study it globally and it provides a holistic overview, often seen as an advantage when starting out in commerce and not a public practice, as you often would with a CA qualification.

But what about other qualifications?

Let’s be honest, we could go on about the benefits of Analytics or Change/PMO courses, of having an IT background when it comes to data modelling or coding, or an engineering qualification when it comes to operational finance. But at the end of the day, as finance continues to evolve and diversify across businesses, finding new and innovative ways to add value, it is really going to come down to what you want to do.

Gone are the days where your finance journey has to go through Public practice or AP/AR to a junior accountant, financial accountant, finance manager, do I want to be forward-looking? Oh, management accountant, analyst, and on and on… Automation threatens to render the transactional finance role imminently extinct, or outsourced to India in the least. Financial accountants will not be far behind, and the buzzwords hum ever louder; Agile, Big Data, Analytics, Transformation, Change…

There will always be a need for financial control, the processes put in place, the efficiencies drove, the improvements imminent. Tax and audit, whilst a continued necessity, are steadily revolutionised with technology.

But now new roles are finding their way to the front and I honestly believe that if you are not parked outside of the Big 4 with your application right now or impassioned by the capacity for career growth whilst studying a CPA; if you are the one doing courses on VBA for fun, or wondering how Supply Chain Finance in FMCG industries is going to be challenged by the evolution of online shopping… Then there is a good chance you will be creating these roles yourself, shaping new finance positions around your out-of-the-box thinking and your off-tangent ideas that businesses are rapidly realising they need.

So all I have to say to you, in that case, is go forth, and good luck!


Ripesh Damania's picture
Director | Technology & Analytics