Monday, July 12, 2010

How to become an Accountant in Sri Lanka?

There are many ways to be an Accountant. But in Sri Lanka, qualified accountant means being a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL).

What are the ways to get the membership in ICASL?
1. By doing all the exams conducted by ICASL.
2. By doing other Accountancy exams, obtained exemptions and completing final level of ICASL exams.

What is Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL)?
You should first go to their official site (link is below), read all the available information and get a basic idea on what it is and how they operate.

Or else if you go to one of these centers or call these numbers, you can get information on how to enroll as a student.

Eligibility for the registration
There are so many options to get eligible for the registration. For details refer this link.

Medium of the examinations
Examinations are held in Sinhala,Tamil and English mediums in the first two stages, but after that examinations will hold in English medium only. But that’s not a problem. English proficiency of the students is not tested. Students should not afraid to take the decision to become an accountant solely based on the language. If you do not know any English, all you can do is go to an English class while you are doing the first two stages, learn Basic English. Just try to read an English paper everyday by going to a library. Just watch English news everyday. Keep a dictionary. Try to find the meaning of couple of words a day. Try to write something in English, everyday. Your English will be good enough to write to the examination after a year or so. I've seen many students who came to Foundation classes from very rural areas who did not know a single English word, later became members passing all the exams and today no one would believe they did not know any English word six years back. Trust me guys, it works. English is not something to be scared. It just comes with the use and practice. All you need is proper planning and commitment to learn it.

Financial Assistance/Scholarships
Financial aid is available for the students who have financial difficulties who have performed well in the advanced level examination. You can contact ICASL regarding this. For the rest of the students, this is the most cost efficient method of becoming an accountant. If you follow any other streams such as CIMA,ACCA, compared to ICASL, those exams are very high cost exams.

On the job training
You will have to join an approved training institution in order to be eligible to sit for the certificate level and strategic level examinations.

Please read through the practical training guide.

This requirement gives an opportunity for the students to earn money while they study and absorb a really quality experience to be a professional accountant. Therefore selecting a company to work is a very challenging task which needs to be done after a good analysis. If you read the link above, you would have already noticed that there is a list of companies approved by the ICASL for the training requirement.

What type of an organization should be selected to work / training?
There are many factors to be considered in selecting a place to work/train.

There are two types of organizations, a student can select to be employed.
1. Organizations public Practice - Audit firms
2. Organizations Non public Practice - Commercial sector companies

Why you should select an audit firm to get training?
There are pros and cons of selecting an audit firm job as the first job for a future accountant. But my personal opinion is it’s always best to select an audit firm job for the first two years of the training.

Audit firms pay very lower salary (actually it is an allowance) ranging from Rs 5,000 to 10,000 to a student depending on the organization. Life is not very easy at it. You will have to travel from one company to another, you may have to work at different places on different dates, and you may have to work with different types of people whom you never met before. But trust me, still it’s worth the effort. Life may not be comfortable as in a normal office where you have a desk and a seat. But the experience you get from an audit firm will not get from anywhere.

Why I say, you should work at an external audit department of an audit firm? There are many reasons.

1. Usually a reputed audit firm has their clients in different fields such as banks, hotels, plantations, import, export, manufacturing, local trading, agricultural, live stock, BPO and many more. By the end of your training period you can cover at least one audit from each sector. Then you know, what are the specialties in each sector , how the accounting differs, how the business operates and many more information.

2. You can get an idea on start to end of the accounting process of a company as oppose to doing only a part in a department in a commercial sector company. Basically you get an overall idea about the business and accounting function of it.

3. You can get the experience of working for many big companies in the country, get to know people, strategies, how the systems work etc.

4. Since your work varies everyday you will not get bored by doing a routine job everyday.

5. Since you have to use many technical standards in performing your work in the audit, you get an up to date knowledge on the technical standards and any other developments in the accounting world.

6. You get enough leave (usually one month) for your ICASL exams leaving you enough time to study while getting paid.

Those can be categorized as the main advantages, but there is lot more.
But for the reasons I cannot write in a public forum, I would like to say, if you are a very sensitive girl who was bought up very protectively and who cannot bear the crookedness of life in Sri Lanka, you better not join an audit firm. Because apart from all the benefits, you may get frustrated on the field. You know you gotta be tough enough, when you are in a sector which you meet lot of people, and then there is a high chance that there are maniacs too. But if you feel you are smart enough to beat them, then please join an audit firm. :)

Why you should select a commercial sector company to get training?
1. They will pay you, more than an audit firm.
2. Its good for someone who plan to establish and specialize in a certain area. E.G Banks
3. Experience in commercial sector is different to the experience in audit sector. Other than the financial accounting work, a trainee gets to involve in many other functions such as Budgeting, management accounts, book keeping, planning etc.

Finally what I want to say is, as I mentioned in my previous article, you have to think seriously before you take this decision. Other than the primary things I mentioned here, there are lots more things you need to do. Once you enroll as a student, you can get to know those. There are many other methods of becoming Accountants. We hope to bring those details in our next articles. Until then enjoy!

If you need any more details or clarification, please feel free to write to us. We are ready to help.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who wants to be an Accountant?

I want to be an Accountant !!!!
Many students have told me that they want to be an Accountant. Then I ask them, why do you want to become an Accountant?. If you are also in the same position, just ask your self.

WHY I want to be an Accountant?
Why? Do you really like it? Do you know about it? How do you expect life to treat you after becoming an Accountant?

I have no interest in writing their answers here. But to understand the basis of my article, I suppose its important that I share some of their views.  This is what they told me in summary.

1. "It is the easiest thing to do. I mean Maths and Science are so difficult. So we are going to do Accountancy. "

2. "I know an Accountant. He is very rich and has a nice car. I want to be like him."

3. "My father is an Accountant. So if I become an accountant, its a respect to him."

4."My aunt who is in Melbourn told me, that for Accountants, its easy to get Austrailian PR!!!".

Only a handful of students who gave me the answer I was expecting. They told me that they were so passionate about it, its very interesting to handle a  finance in a company and the whole company will depend on what they do. Amaizing. I can smell what their career is going to be.

Job market for Accountants in Sri Lanka
During last couple of years I worked with and dealt with many professionally qualified accountants. Some of them were very successful in their career where as some of them were you know just Accountants. I met accountants who have the same qualification, but one gets like 10 times  of the salary of the other. But unlike another professions which the work may vary, they were doing the similar type of work for two similar size of multinational companies in Sri Lanka. What create that difference? Trsut me guys, I know these poeple. Its not their talent which makes them differ. Its defineatly not the capacity of their brain. Its just their attitude. Its just their spirit and the will.

'Thats A job' Accountants
I've categorised the Accountnats whom I met. I will call the first category as "Thats a Job" Accountants.

Some, I can say most of the Accountants of this category just hate what they do. For them its very routine.  Monthly Accounts, Quarterly Accounts , Annual Accounts , Audit reports and this cycle repeats for the rest of their life. They consider its their job. It pay for their food, so why bother. Do something here and their, cover up things, close the computer, pack the files, go home before others !!! Surely thats a dull life. They get paid  only for that much.  

'Thats 'THE job' Accountants
A co worker of this site asked me whether I categorised my sample of accountants based on the salary scale. No. I didn't. But when I checked my data collection sheet against the salary sheet, I realised that he is not wrong. But its a co incident. I categorised based on the answers they gave to my questions. This category of people told me that "Its THE job". If you take the bigger picture, they were also doing the same things which other category were doing. Thats preparing Accounts. But their life was more interesting. They feel  they are important. They feel they are talented. Most importantly they feel they are happy. They did not have complaints. They are working for the same kind of employers who has no interest in the happiness of employees. So how do they live so happy?

They are either doing their dream job. Or else they are the sort of people who can convert any job they do in to their dream job with the commitement and thrive to learn.  They were absorbing new knowledge, practicing what they learned, implementing things at work, find the ways to do the work efficiently and effectively. Get more work  to do in the time saved. Check what could be the best for the company and for them selves. Keep an eye on the share market. Invest. You know it was interesting to talk with them atleast for a small time. They were at different ages. Some were very young. Some were quite old. But their passionate about the profession was same. It was amaizing to watch the way they were handling things. They do have a life. They have become Accountants, not by chance, but by choice.

Whats the difference between these  two type of Accountants?
 I asked the " 'Thats 'THE job' Accountants...............

"Did you request this salary in the interview"?

Most of them told me,
"No. They offered me". !!!!

They were head hunted by the companies. Market is keeping an eye on people like them. They are ready to buy such people at any rate.

And people of the previous category who became Accountants just for the sake of it, thinking it as "A job", oftenly complained about the second category earning a good salary. Some of them in this category didn't even know that there are such high salary scales exist and operating in Sri Lanka. When I asked them a rough question on market salary rates, they told me

"What nonsense. Who would want to keep an Accountant paying so much of a salary? !!!!!".

So that was their definition of their own profession. They only get what they deserved.

Who should be an Accountant?
 Like any other profession, to be a professionally qualified accountant also it takes much time and needs much hardworking. A person who could not spend that time, a person who do not have that commitment, a person who do not wish to build a career as a professional Accountant, should not aim of being an Account. There are hundred and one other jobs which suits your profile which could give you the same benefits an Accountant can get.  If you are not ready for a hard life, do not ever dream of being a high profile accountant. 

How to be an Accountant?
I will assist on this on my next article. Be await !!!