The San Francisco Chapter of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants celebrated, International Chartered Accountants Day, or CA Day, by hosting a talk highlighting the skills accountants offer, the challenges Chartered Accountant (CA) coming from India face in the U.S., and how to stay connected and stay motived.
Held at the India Community Center in Milpitas on June 29, the 70th anniversary of the India Parliament’s creation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in 1949, the event was attended by both U.S. based professional CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and many who have earned a four-year degree as a Chartered Accounted in India but cannot work in the U.S. because of visa status.
Keynote speaker and silicon valley veteran Madhu Ranganathan, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Open Text Corporation, talked on the theme, “CA professional development – What are the aspirations and what are the shortcomings, how they can help on communication skills and inter personals skills in real life.”
When indica asked why communication is so important to people who deal with numbers, Ranganathan said, “One, we are very good in numbers, but sometimes the lack of communications can hurt our success. In the meetings, what I have learned in my career, if you are very good technically you also need to be reasonably good at communicating.”
But CAs tend to give too much importance to numbers. And most of them are immigrants, so they’re hesitant and come from diverse cultures.
“We can do a much better job in India as the education progresses to hone soft skill and interpersonal skills, but we don’t give so much importance to communication,” said Ranganathan, adding, “Also keep in mind, CA is mostly always self-learning and so also hurts the communication skills. Is it different, here in the U.S.? I have been CFO for 15 years and so understand this.”
“I did CPA and MBA here and learned communication was more important,” said Ranganathan, who earned an MBA at the University of Massachusetts.
Referring to the number of young women mainly on H4 visa (dependent on visa), in her talk, she said, “Be fearless, be self-confident, they have everything they need, just shred your lack of confidence”.
Sudha Michel, ICAI San Francisco chapter, vice chair and member of the management committee, speaking at the event urged members to strengthen data analytics skills as well.
“Even CPA profession is evolving,” Michel said. “We have date analytics everywhere, so we are in the new world. The CA has to progress in technology.”
She told indica that from the data side CPAs know everything and have to bridge the gap to understand how to interpret that data into the intelligent information and how to do the prediction.
“It’s not that difficult and today people want to base their businesses on past trends,” she said. “you have to wear different caps and the basics will get you as a person to understand the business side and that is what you have to learn.”
Nilesh Shah, another member of the ICAI management committee and in the Investor- EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program spoke to indica about the event the attendees, saying, “Most of these people are well established in their career. They have come from India for a job opportunity, and they want to give back to their community.”
“We want to give back so that other CAs can come and build their career here, and that is the primary aim of this chapter,” said Shah.
He said the San Francisco chapter was launched two years ago. When asked if he sees the need, he said yes, and there is a dual situation – Indian companies are investing and acquiring American companies, and American companies are investing back in India, and, fortunately, or unfortunately, the accounting standards in each country are different.
Everybody needs to have conciliation, and that is why the U.S.-based CPA and Indian CA have a reason to work together.
Also, during the event, a few shared their challenges on having a four-year CA degree but not permitted to work in the U.S.
Shah agreed that the spouses of H4 dependent visa are another big challenge and also not all U.S. universities give credit when enrolling in CPA programs.
“We are talking to the various state boards, and the challenges are that there are 50 states and each state board has its own way going through the process,” he said. “It’s a complex metrics of which agency will work with which state. Yes, this course is equivalent to a four-year college program, that is why we are working with the Indian Accounting Institute, ACPA, NASPA, and the state board.”
Khusboo Mehta, a CA from India, calls H4 visa a curse. “The biggest frustration is you cannot work, and if L2 visa (spouses of L1 visa holders) holders can work why can’t we?”
Mehta completed her CA in 2009 and came to the U.S. in 2015. She said she feels nice otherwise, and to keep herself busy she does volunteer work, and she is passionate about acting and modeling.
Another H4 visa attendee, Divya Maheshwari, who finally enrolled in school, said getting admitted is complicated.
When asked wasn’t she aware she cannot work, she said she thought her green card would arrive, but now she has changed her status from H4 to F1 visa.
“It’s very tough,” she said.