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Being a Chartered Accountant is one of the most respectable occupations in India that people aspire to be. In the initial stage of their career, some chartered accountants aspire to work in the corporate sector, particularly in Big 4 consulting firms. In contrast, some choose to work under an established CA firm or prefer to start their firm.
There are many CA firms in India, and obtaining new clients in the competitive market is very difficult, especially for those in their early career wanting to start their practice.
More than opening a CA firm, running it successfully is all that matters, especially in today’s age where many accounting firms are taking the toll of automation and other technical advancements. Therefore, it has become important while starting a CA firm to hire young professionals who can use accounting tools and technology to provide value-added accounting services.
When you are thinking of opening a CA firm in India, it is essential to look at the market opportunities and understand the different solutions you must offer for the financial growth of the business, as well as protecting the client’s assets from any corporate liabilities.
Now let us look at the road map of how to start and successfully run a CA firm in India:
People who aspire to have a CA practice of their own should first clear all the levels of the CA examination and complete their articleship requirements to become a graduated chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants Of India. Following that, they need to apply for the certificate of practice by giving out the necessary details in their ICAI forms.
It is also mandated by the state governments that to establish a CA firm; one needs to have professional tax registration, a trade license, and permission from the municipal corporation apart from being a qualified chartered accountant
- Partnership or Own Firm
Before you think of starting a CA firm in India and running it successfully, you must first decide that do you want it to run solely or in a partnership model. Both have their pros and cons.
Running a CA firm in partnership will give you the collaborative expertise and support to develop and manage clients. However, stiff competition and conflicts might lead to the dissolution of the entire partnership business.
Hence, the model in which the CA firm should run must be carefully thought out.
- Build your network
Even in the accounting profession, your network is your source of revenue. It is more pertinent for early professionals or those who have cleared their CA. Suppose you want to run a successful CA firm in India. In that case, you need to build your network with friends, family, or professional walks of life.
Suppose you are a mid-level or a retired CA professional. In that case, the clients you have serviced during your job are your most significant assets who validate your CA firm’s reputation in the market.
Though the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) restricts or prohibits Chartered Accountants from seeking clients through advertisements, there are certain marketing tactics listed below can be taken up to promote their business ethically while adhering to guidelines prescribed by ICAI
– Online Presence in terms of website social media running on the “pull” model.
– Referral from an existing client or another CAs in practice.
– Guest blogging or sharing information related to accounting tax regulations on social media channels.
– Attending seminars or conferences to build industry network.
– Become an affiliate of Networks of Accounting Firms approved by ICAI
- Slowly build a niche
When you are just starting and want to sustain yourself in the accounting profession, it is better to provide all kinds of accounting and financial services right from GST registration, ITR filing, Trademark Registration to Auditing. Fresh CA professionals starting their firm need to know where to get more clients and what kind of service they should provide. For instance, they could target individual young professionals for their income tax filing or do GST and Tax returns for start-ups and small-scale industries. They could also do auditing of sole proprietor businesses.
After providing generalised services, the CA firm needs to build its reputation and develop a specialised niche in the market while outsourcing some of the services such as legal documentation, obtaining a digital signature, trademark registration etc. to cater for the needs of the existing as well as new clients.
- Be an advisor
As a CA firm, it should do more than just the basic tax filing, auditing and generalised accounting services. It will be beneficial for your firm to start being more of a financial advisor for your clients they can trust with their corporate assets. Your firm, with its expertise, should solve their financial problems and guide them to invest their money in the right direction.
Offering value-added services such as advising on investment, firm/company registration or obtaining a risk-free loan would build your firm’s reputation as you would be helping your clients to have informed financial decisions.
- Pricing based on value-added services
To run a successful CA firm, having a value-based pricing model is more beneficial for having a steady revenue stream.
A customer-centric approach helps your firm reap its benefits to the clients with its value-added services and strategies. If your clients require any premium service, they can pay according to the benefits it will offer.
Having a value-based pricing model gives a CA firm the flexibility to earn while delivering the quality services
- Social proof
Today, everything is digital. People even search for CA firms on LinkedIn and Google to check their credibility’s based on their online presence and reviews. Hence, CA firms need to have a functional website and a social presence according to guidelines prescribed by ICAI, where prospective clients can see their insights, industrial knowledge, and client testimonies.
Becoming a chartered accountant and successfully running a CA firm is difficult in today’s competitive environment. A new chartered accountant or an established firm should not be restricted in delivering value-added services to their clients, which may or may not be their area of expertise. To provide those services, a CA can recruit an additional resource. However, hiring a resource can be expensive because each value-added service requires an expert to handle it. For example, a CA firm can get a client who wants to get himself registered for GST, and that client doesn’t have the necessary supporting legal documents such as a rent agreement or establishment license. In such a scenario, Chartered Accountant should outsource it instead of spending the money on hiring a person as this is considered a value-added service.
Legal Vidur is India’s leading organisation that offers a wide range of tax and compliance services at a reasonable cost. A CA can outsource their value-added services to Legal Vidur, allowing them to assist their clients while lowering their operational costs by not hiring additional staff.
You can also expand your clientele list by collaborating with Legal Vidur because they demand the services of a chartered accountant’s services. It can be a win-win situation for any CA firm, not only in terms of outsourcing extra services but also in gaining new clients, especially for a freshly established CA firm.