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Chartered Accountants In 21st Century - Neither Watchdogs Nor Bloodhounds But Panthers

The need to be nimble-footed and having the ability to accept and adept to changes and be quick on the rebound

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Today,  as we celebrate the 74th Chartered Accountants Day it is time to introspect, reflect and maybe become a soothsayer and speculate on the future of the Chartered Accountancy profession.

In the present day and age where the pace of change has reached stratospheric levels and where business environment is not just subject to domestic factors but also global issues and where economies are inextricably linked and intertwined it seems we are at an inflexion point in the growth, development and evolution of the Chartered Accountancy profession. 

Having spent close to four decades in the profession (from a green horn listening awe-struck and starry eyed to the doyens of the Institute at Institute seminars and functions to having developed grey hair myself), I have personally witnessed how the profession has radically transformed beyond recognition. 

Gone are the days when “postings” and “castings” (with calculations being invariably done manually even before the  ubiquitous Facit calculators came into existence) were an integral part of an Articled Clerks training schedule or where typewriters were most commonly used to generate letters, correspondence and Audit Reports and when white ink, carefully applied, was used used as a means of correction. Talking about such things seems prehistoric in a day and age where the use of laptops has become common place and even the pocket-sized mobile contains most of your data- indeed the transformation has been dramatic and radical.  

Even in terms of the areas of professional endeavour,  the landscape has expanded from the traditional areas of audit, taxation and corporate laws to cover entirely novel and ever-growing areas, some green field, some offshoots such as forensic audit, providing information technology and computer software related services, financial markets, assistance in formulation and revision of policies (both for the state and the private sector,) business planning and restructuring, social auditing – to name a few.

It is in this scenario that the future of the profession calls for somewhat of a course correction. The commonly held belief and somewhat which has been deeply ingrained  and instilled into the mind space of Chartered Accountants is that Auditors are not bloodhounds but rather watchdogs and as  Nihar Jambusaria , a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants  put it colourfully,  at the most sniffer dogs.  Be that as it may be, considering the present day dynamics and the complexities of a volatile external environment, which is constantly in a state of flux, the need is for Chartered Accountants to be more akin to Panthers and exhibit the qualities of strength, agility, endurance, ingenuity and competitiveness that these  feline creatures and members of the big cat family exemplify. 

The need to be nimble-footed and having the ability to accept and adept to changes and be quick on the rebound has never been more pressing than at present – the failure or even the perceived inability to do so will come down heavily not only on the ability of the profession to expand its relevance but even to maintain it. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Sanjeeva Narayan

Managing Partner, Ashwani and Associates

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