Finance career options after CA beyond tax & audit

Do you know, an estimated 30% CAs, are not interested in the traditional tax and audit career options.  They also do not have clarity, about other career options after CA. Even if they do, a majority of them are afraid of not being able to perform well in finance roles.

Is this a genuine issue? Well, Chartered Accountants have an excellent grounding in financial statements. So, in roles that need such knowledge, they can do really well. But, the CA curriculum does not give insights into the broader finance concepts. That is where they are at a disadvantage against, say, an MBA in Finance.

So read on, to see which career options after CA you have an advantage for; and then, how you can prepare for them. These roles are among the most aspirational roles, in which your knowledge and skills will be utilized to the fullest.

I. Corporate Banking

Corporate Banking offers a range of products and services to large Corporates or businesses. ‘Large’ typically means, minimum turnover of INR 1000 crore. Short-term and long-term loans, trade finance, Cash Management are some of the services provided by the Corporate Banking divisions of banks.  Non-Banking Finance Companies, or NBFCs – such as Tata Capital, Bajaj Finserv, etc. also offer some of these services, especially short & long term loans. So, you have career options in both Banks & NBFCs.

In Corporate Banking, the best career options after CA lie in the following three roles:

a. Relationship Management – A Relationship Manager is the single point of contact between the Corporate and the bank. She services all the corporate’s needs,  looks for business opportunities based on the client’s requirements, does the initial credit evaluation and prepares the Credit Appraisal Note, basis which the credit evaluation is done.

A CA fresher would join in as a junior/assistant Relationship Manager and then progress to a senior RM – managing a set of corporate relationships. So, if you have good communication skills as well, and are interested in client-facing roles, this is where you will fit.

b. Credit Analysis – Credit Analysts evaluate whether loan applicants meet the credit risk guidelines of the bank. For this, the Credit Appraisal Note, past financials, projected revenues and profits, industry and economic environment are evaluated.

The rigorous analytical skills and a strong understanding of financial statements of Chartered Accountants are best utilized here. This role, therefore, is the strongest fitment for a CA.

c. Product Management–Product Managers have an in-depth understanding of the regulations, pricing, etc. of the Trade Finance and Cash Management services that banks offer. For example, how a Letter of Credit or LC should be structured. They work with Relationship Managers to structure products as per the customer’s requirement. While a CA can join the product management team of a bank or NBFC in this role, s/he will need some basic understanding of the various products offered.

CA freshers can also be hired in the SME sector of banks and NBFCs – revenues typically INR 5 cr – INR 1000 crore – for these roles. They can move to handle large corporates after a few years of experience in the SME sector.

II. Equity Research

In Equity Research, a stock is analyzed using fundamental analysis. In this approach, analysts look at external factors like the economy, industry, and company financials to arrive at a fair value of the stock. The idea here is that comparing this fair value, against the market price, will help an investor arrive at buy/sell/hold decisions.

Equity Research is another good finance career option after CA since it requires strong analytical skills and good knowledge of financial statements; both of which chartered accountants possess.

CAs are recruited for equity research roles in the following companies:

a. Brokerages: They have research divisions that work on creating reports to advise their clients. Some top firms are Angel Broking, Motilal Oswal, HDFC Securities, India Infoline Ltd., etc.

b. Captive KPOs: Global investment houses have captive research units in India. The research is carried out in India, for specific stocks and reports are sent to traders. Some top firms are Nomura, Citibank Analytics, Barclays Shared Services, JPMC Shared Services, etc.

Captive KPOs hire aggressively and do recruit CA freshers.

c. Third-Party KPOs: These are independent KPOs that do research for other financial institutions and provide them with research reports. Some top firms are Evalueserve, Crisil, Genpact Analytics, EXL Services, etc.

Third-party KPOs also recruit CA freshers for Equity Research roles in large numbers.

How to get into corporate banking or equity research as a CA

III. Project Finance

Project finance deals with the funding of large scale projects. These are also projects, carried out over a long period. Typical examples are infrastructure projects – building roads, dams, airports, etc. The credit evaluation of project finance depends only on the feasibility and future cash flows from the project. The financial health of the company implementing the project is just an added comfort but not a driver, in the funding decision process.

A CA’s strong understanding of financial statements really comes in handy to prepare financial models and projections.

To understand more about the roles in project finance, you can refer to this article: Careers in Project Finance for MBA and CA students

IV. Investment Banking

Investment Banking can broadly be divided into:

a. Fund raising: Helping businesses to raise funds, via the financial markets – stock and bond markets – as well as through private investors and funds. The latter refers to Venture Capital and Private Equity funding.

b. Mergers and Acquisitions: This is the most known face of I-banking. Both buyers and sellers will have I-bankers, to represent them, in finding a counterparty, structuring the deal and carrying it through.

Investment Banking is one of the most aspirational career options after CA. With a solid foundation of tax and accounts, chartered accountants can contribute to the structuring of deals; they can also work on financial projections – the role of an I-banking Analyst.

However, it is crucial for CAs to work on their core finance knowledge. This is to get a good understanding of how businesses work in different industries. A good Investment Banking course would be helpful in developing expertise in the right areas of finance.

Hands-on knowledge of financial modelling is also needed. A lot of decisions in issue management, mergers, and acquisitions will be based on these projections.

How to get into I-Banking or Porject Finance as a CA

These are a few of the most aspirational finance career options after a CA. Hopefully, now you have more clarity about the path you can take if you wish to go beyond taxation and auditing after your articleship.  

All the best!

Finance career options after CA – beyond tax & audit!

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