I was privy to an interesting conversation between two gentlemen in the train today. They were discussing about Chartered Accountants (CAs).
I did not bother to catch up with their conversation till the time I realized that they were discussing about me and my professional colleagues. Hence, I missed the context in which this conversation came up. Nevertheless, it still remains interesting. One of the two people was a global gyaani – a genre of people you would always find in Mumbai who believe they are on top of everything that happens in this mother earth… or perhaps in Mars, Venus and Saturn too. He opined that CAs are too many - too much these days. Or to put it in his own words, aaj kal CA kachre ke jaise mil jaate hai. Aisa hi chalta raha to paanch saalon mein yeh log raste mein bhatak rahe honge!
No, if you are thinking that I would have pounced on him and beaten him blue and black, you are completely wrong. I am not such a person at all. I am kind at heart and ever forgiving even in such situations. I am not an egoist to feel offended about these remarks. Considering all this, it is almost irrelevant that the global gyaani had an enviable giant frame - bulky and not shorter than 6’2. :)
Coming back to their conversation, it had not ended. The not-so-global gyaani was visibly surprised. He had thought, like me, that clearing CA is not that easy and so how could the number increase in such proportion. To this the global gyaani had an instant answer. He explained that the passing rates of the examinations have increased and aaj kal koi bhi CA ban sakta hai. He added, more importantly these CAs have no knowledge at all. They just have to sit in an air conditioned office and could earn Rs.1 lac per month for doing nothing! I wanted to intervene and ask the address of this office to apply for a job. ;)
On a serious note, there was some truth in what the global gyaani was saying. It is a fact that the passing rates of CA examinations have improved significantly. And I do not think that is because of improvement in the quality of candidates. I have been teaching CA students for about three years now and I can say this from my experience that the quality is visibly deteriorating. Perhaps it is unfair to pass such remarks on the batches that succeeded mine. But I would be lying if I say that I have not experienced deterioration in quality.
The proportion of quality students in a batch that I teach has more or less remained constant over the years. But the number of students who pass out has increased, and within them the quality is mixed. And this is not necessarily because these students are not good, but purely because the yardstick has been lowered. Presumably, this has been done to cater to the increasing demand for CAs. Whether this is the right approach or not is an entirely different realm for debating.
Whilst it is incorrect that all CAs go on to earn Rs.1 lac per month for doing nothing, people who have passed out in the last 5 years (and includes me) has never had it better in terms of the career opportunities. The pay scales have also improved significantly. Simple economics would suggest that a sharp fall in the pay packages of CAs should precede a scenario that our global gyaani envisaged – that CAs would have no work at all.