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IT professional to Chartered Accountancy: To be, or not to be: that is the question!

[OP]
Newbie
Apr 10, 2012
4 posts

IT professional to Chartered Accountancy: To be, or not to be: that is the question!

Hello all,
I am an IT graduate working for the past 10 years in ERP implementations. I had my masters from US, and then started to work on SAP based assignments and have been actively working on several SAP technologies since then. To say about my current job, I wouldn’t complain too much about it, but I don’t think I'm going anywhere with it. The money is great or at the least good enough, but I got to bear the burden of updating myself with various emerging technologies or else I’ll be out of the game in no time. That is a huge task. The next challenge is the scope of moving up which is next to nil in IT world. If you’re an analyst, specialist or Team Lead you tend to be in that position for several years with no promotion whatsoever. This is because the management and leadership positions are scant and lot of people compete for them. These things really freak me out.
I wanted to revive my career with some business experience. I wanted to become a chartered accountant and have been working towards that. I have completed all of my courses required to enrol in CASB. Last year I was called in for an interview during the CA students recruiting season with PWC (1st round and rejected) & KPMG (2nd round and rejected) out of all the 50 something applications I sent out. I have got decent grades all through my continuing education courses to complete the CASB requirements. My GPA for all these courses is 3.44. I had the passion to do all these with my full time employment. Given my current situation I'm really confused, frustrated and kind of tired.
1. I am not sure if I could secure a CA training office employment this year which is crucial for pursuing CA.
2. I'm currently earning 73K and the articling position salary is closer to half of that around $42K. I am not sure if I would be able to keep up my family of 3 with that. For a year or two I could hold my horses but not for a long time in this kind of salary. I have researched and found out that second year seniors make at least 55K and managers/third year seniors make 60 to 65K. Reaching that phase in 2 years would be a big relief for me financially.
3. Also I don’t have to keep learning new technologies that totally sucks out my energy but I learn new practical lessons that constantly keep me intrigued.
4. As long as I stay good and sincere with my job, any big 4 would be willing to keep moving me up until the senior manager level. I know partnership is a different league and a whole new ball game.
5. I’m also 32, is it too late to get into public accounting, can I not transfer any of my ERP experience in leveraging my accounting career?
Unlike IT, I don’t have to learn new things drastically, I will keep moving up with years adding up, a constant source of income and a lot of client/customer interaction which I love to have. On the down side I see, long hours in public accounting and initial penny pinching life style with articling salary.
Some of the days I wake up aspiring to become one of those CAs in big 4 who has a busy day with various client interactions doing varied audit, advisory and assurance jobs. On the other days, I wake up with a down mindset with the obstacles that I'm faced with, saying I should be content with whatever I have been offered and not to look further. I just simply don’t know what to do. Looking back at the past 2 years, I simply can’t throw them away for nothing. I myself was amazed with the josh, spirit and enthusiasm that I had those days. Some part of me says it’s over; the other part says “Go for it whatever it takes”. I just want to let it open anonymously in a place where people will not make a judgement on me and would say me what they think. I’m eager to know.
10 replies
Newbie
Mar 27, 2010
89 posts
9 upvotes
Vaughan
ERP Implementation for 10 years and still 70k? Something seems off...

First year Business Technology Analsts at Deloitte's Consulting practise doing ERP implementation starts off at $60k total comp....
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 10, 2012
4 posts
I moved from USA to Canada 2 years back. In USA I used to make closer to 150K. In Canada, not much ERP opportunities. I have also taken a low profile job just to cope up with my accounting studies. I know when I really go out aggressively hunting now I can make good money. For me, it has now come to a point where I need money, stable managerial position and lots of open opportunities. That is the reason why I dont want to waste my earning potential still waiting on that thing that might not happen at all. But that is my mind speaking, my heart just wants to get into what it really likes. Hence the dilemma :cheesygri .

PS: I know someone might think, "Oh! boy what is it to be inside the body of this person". I do think so sometimes, but hey, at least I'm not in the dilemma of figuring out if I'm gay :razz: :D (just kidding, I have a lots of respect for them).
Sr. Member
Jan 14, 2007
821 posts
12 upvotes
Edmonton
Are you dead set on working for one of the big 4? If not you may want to try the non-traditional approach of a CATO.

In western Canada there are a number of "non-traditional" CATO's where you work in industry and attain your hours experience while being able to enroll in CASB.

The only catch is you will not attain audit experience unless the non-trad CATO has an agreement with an accounting firm. Without that experience you can still be a qualified CA, however you are not permitted to sign off on Audits unless you obtain the satisfactory amount of audit hours with a traditional CATO.

Since these CATO's are in industry they may see your 10 years industry experience as an asset vs a firm.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 10, 2012
4 posts
mcmanus wrote: Are you dead set on working for one of the big 4? If not you may want to try the non-traditional approach of a CATO.
I would love to work in an industry. I mean who would not. Regulated hours, decent pay and what would be a final destination for most CAs would be my starting point. I applied to quite a few industrial CATOs in Calgary. No one responded. :( :o
mcmanus wrote: Since these CATO's are in industry they may see your 10 years industry experience as an asset vs a firm.
I have mentioned enough in my resume about my experience in ERP when I passed it on to these industrial CATOs. Still didnt catch their attention, don't know what else would. May be a marching band saying it out loud might help. :lol:
Sr. Member
Jan 14, 2007
821 posts
12 upvotes
Edmonton
Keep at it... Calgary is a pretty competitive market for CA Students especially given the way things have been since about 2 years ago where they went from a shortage of CA students to a huge pool.

Try some of the small to medium sized firms. Keep an eye on the UofC website and other places in calgary that will hold Meet the Firm nights. Networking can get you a lot of places especially in Calgary.
Deal Addict
Apr 7, 2011
2053 posts
609 upvotes
Hamilton
why do you want to be a Chartered Accountant? There are also CMAs and CGAs and they tend to be more represented in industry.

Canada is different then the US where the CPA designation is much more prevalent, CA/CMA/CGA are much even in terms of recognition / prevalence.

I found that most CA firms when recruiting really wanted young and fresh - they could ingrain (brainwash) the culture, make them work long hours and have them do scut work. That 'experience' and 'seasoned professional' that you'd bring to the role isn't what they're looking for. At least that was my experience (made it final round with Coopers).

With ERP experience personally I'd do the CMA route and look for roles managing ERP systems within the IT group. Understanding reporting requirements (accounting side), compliance (accounting side) and the technology is what's needed in that kind of role. It's niche but there are positions like that.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2007
741 posts
237 upvotes
Concur with someone else re: your salary after 10 years. Is this in Eastern or Western Canada? In Western, it is impossible to find competent implementers or SAP specialists.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 10, 2012
4 posts
Sum_guy wrote:why do you want to be a Chartered Accountant? There are also CMAs and CGAs and they tend to be more represented in industry.

Canada is different then the US where the CPA designation is much more prevalent, CA/CMA/CGA are much even in terms of recognition / prevalence.
I chose Chartered Accountancy because, you accept it or not, it is easily recognized and a faster pace up the corporate ladder. CGA/CMA might be the next option, but probably not my choice because CGA/CMA isn't portable within North America let alone Europe or Asia.
Sum_guy wrote:I found that most CA firms when recruiting really wanted young and fresh - they could ingrain (brainwash) the culture, make them work long hours and have them do scut work. That 'experience' and 'seasoned professional' that you'd bring to the role isn't what they're looking for. At least that was my experience (made it final round with Coopers).

With ERP experience personally I'd do the CMA route and look for roles managing ERP systems within the IT group. Understanding reporting requirements (accounting side), compliance (accounting side) and the technology is what's needed in that kind of role. It's niche but there are positions like that.

That's the vibe I get too. They need the rookies to be their "Slaves" to toil around and keep doing so while moving up the career. Hence this post to figure out if I have still got a shot. Hmmm... Let me see ...

Also the ERP experience for CMA jobs, is also kind of hard for me. I keep applying. But from what I researched, the CMA jobs start at $42 to 45K and may be hit a $60K range in 5 years, in the best case. That's troubling for me to take up CMA seriously.
Deal Addict
Apr 7, 2011
2053 posts
609 upvotes
Hamilton
For portability a CA is better - CMA is fine in the UK and other areas that are UK centric. Can't comment on CGA one way or the other.

Unless you're doing tax or internal audit I've not seen much of a difference in pay and mobility between CA's and CMA's 5 years or so after designation within companies. Basically your experience and capability becomes the deciding factor in promotions after a while. You need a designation to 'tick' the box.

Once you hit the manager level it evens out for most roles, everyone is competing for the director spots based on what they can do and how well they can lead.
Deal Addict
Mar 24, 2009
2085 posts
82 upvotes
Toronto
Sum_guy wrote: For portability a CA is better - CMA is fine in the UK and other areas that are UK centric. Can't comment on CGA one way or the other.

Unless you're doing tax or internal audit I've not seen much of a difference in pay and mobility between CA's and CMA's 5 years or so after designation within companies. Basically your experience and capability becomes the deciding factor in promotions after a while. You need a designation to 'tick' the box.

Once you hit the manager level it evens out for most roles, everyone is competing for the director spots based on what they can do and how well they can lead.

The mobility difference is HUGE. In other countries, nobody will care that you were a mid-level manager at a random F500 company if they are asking for an accountant and you have a CMA instead of a CA/CPA. Most HR people in these places won't even know what a CMA is.

...and the CMA is NOT fine in many UK centric places. In fact, aside from the UK, Australia, India and Canada, the CMA designation has a minimal presence in commonwealth countries. In Australia/India, the CMA designation isn't considered equal.

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