NAME: AF NESARUDDIN, FCA
Company: Hoda Vasi Chowdhury & Co.
Description: Founded in 1889; renamed Hoda Vasi in 1972. Hoda Vasi is one of Bangladesh’s oldest and leading Chartered Accounting and business services firms. It is now the Bangladesh representative firm of Deloitte.
Company Website: www.hodavasi.com
Current Role: Partner, Hoda Vasi Chowdhury & Co. (Practicing Chartered Accountant)
*Master’s, Department of Finance, University of Dhaka
*Bachelor’s, Department of Finance, University of Dhaka
*AF Nesaruddin (AFN)
GradInsights: Firstly, we would like to know from you how you came into the field of Chartered Accounting and what inspired you to choose this career.
AFN: We basically started off in this field in Bangladesh in 1980, when there weren’t too many opportunities available here. That particular year the BCS exam was not held, and I also personally think that a government job would not provide me with the kind of salary that I wanted to be able to sustain my lifestyle.
It was then that I decided that it would be better for me if I chose to go for a particular profession, for which I decided that I would need to complete my Masters. It’s not that I had thought of this career path since childhood. It is only after I had completed my Honours and Masters that I began to know that CA (Chartered Accountancy) was a field which would yield good monetary benefits.
GradInsights: Sir, where did you obtain your Masters degree from?
AFN: I received my Masters from the Department of Finance, University of Dhaka. Everybody tried to discourage me from trying to go into the sector of CA, but I argued that it was the same subject, and since I had passed 5th in my entire class at the Honours level, and 6th or 7th at the Masters level, it would not be a problem for me really.
GradInsights: So after passing the CA exam, what were the challenges you faced? Because passing the CA exam in itself is quite difficult, as most people say.
AFN: Well, it wasn’t that much of a challenge, really. The only so-called challenge was that we who studied at the Dhaka University were always guided by our teachers in numerous ways: we were given a syllabus, notes and suggestions to help us study. For the CA exam, these aren’t available or provided as such. The main challenge here is that you would have to combine your academic intelligence with your practical skills. If you only base your knowledge on academic intelligence, you would not be able to answer many of the questions set in the exam. Practical skills mean that you work at a firm in a 9 to 5 job, where you learn the ropes of the field and put your knowledge into practice. You will definitely get all the facilities and fringe benefits associated with the job, but you need to have a mindset that you are prepared to study even after the 9 to 5 job. For example, I completed my qualifications 8 to 9 months before my exam, so I do not think it is much of a challenge.
GradInsights: So is this career only suited to those with a strong or hardworking mentality, or could anybody go for it?
AFN: You do not necessarily need to have such a mentality. Of course, you need to have the basic discipline and diligence required in any field of work, but apart from that, anybody could venture into this stream of study. For example, if one studies 3 to 4 hours daily, that person has no life, really. In our country, it is practically seen that most youngsters get tired after working a 9 to 5 job, after which reading seems to become a burden, and is often overshadowed by the thought of other extracurricular activities and leisure time. Once they mature, they are expected to carry out certain duties for the family after they return from work, such as grocery-shopping, hence they get occupied with other such duties and obligations. Apart from this, I do not think that there are any other challenges that are to be faced in the field of CA. Look at doctors, engineers and architects, who have to spend quite a lot of time in pursuit of studies. As opposed to the 15,000 to 20,000 taka job that they land once they have been qualified in their specific fields, a Chartered Accountant lands a job of 1 lakh taka and upwards after s/he gets the qualification. Our problem lies in that many families do not want their children to go for this career, because they do not know much of it, and of the perks it has.
GradInsights: Sir, how did you come to join Hoda Vasi, which is an internationally renowned firm in this field?
AFN: After I had completed my Masters, I sat for exams for many different firms at the time. Of all the firms that I gave exams for, I felt that Hoda Vasi would be the best choice.
GradInsights: So Sir, prior to achieving your present status, what are the positions that you have had to hold in this field?
AFN: Well, by God’s will, I was one of the few people who had passed the CA exam in one attempt, which is considered to be a rare occurrence. My principal at the time, Mr Kamrul Huda, asked me to go work for him, promising me partnership in his firm in due course. After working with him for two years, I went to Saudi Arabia, where again I worked for about two years. After I returned from Saudi Arabia, practicing in Bangladesh was still not flourishing really. Then I joined another firm, but I remained in touch with him. So when Hoda Vasi was going to become affiliated with Deloitte, Mr Huda suggested that since the then partners were already quite old, the future generation should be handed over the reins on the firm. He suggested my name as one of the partners, and I have been a partner here ever since.
GradInsights: We would like to know the structure of firms in this sector.
AFN: Partner is the highest position offered to anyone in these firms. When you are a student, you first join a firm as a professional. You are then gradually promoted to junior, semi-senior, senior, supervisor, and then manager. Then once you become a partner, you have become one of the owners of the firm. Naturally, it is the highest available position.
GradInsights: Apart from the compensation package, why is the profession of Chartered Accountancy lucrative for current graduates?
AFN: Firstly I would say that it is very independent. It is independent in the sense that I have both the options of going for service or choosing to work independently. No other degree provides both of these options. For instance, lawyers can only choose one of the two. It is also different in the sense that you have to work a desk job and mingle with white-collar professionals mostly, and there is no requirement of field work as such. Third, timing is another factor. Unlike doctors and lawyers, you can actually plan your time and allocate it to your family, your children, and other activities. These are just some of the perks that this career choice has to offer.
GradInsights: Are the people who come to study CA mainly from the Finance and Accounting streams, or do students from other streams come here too? For example, can a BBA graduate from IBA choose to come into this field?
AFN: Although most people do come from Accounting and Finance, and it was a popularly held belief that only students from these streams could come into this line, nowadays many people from other streams are also coming into this field. Although I myself have come from Finance, I have seen many others in recent years who have originally studied in different subjects. In fact, a recent trend in London has noticed that up to 30% of the professionals in this field have originally belonged to other streams, even chemistry!
GradInsights: So is it better if one comes into this sector with an overseas degree?
AFN: Universities offering the CA degree will be better able to corroborate information regarding this. Usually, though, if one has an ACCA degree, it is very good.
GradInsights: Nowadays many people in Bangladesh are completing their graduation and choosing to complete ACCA afterwards. Is there really much of a difference between this and the CA degree?
AFN: There is definitely a huge difference between the two. If you teach a boy a particular subject for 10 years, getting 10 different degrees and the same boy something by making him work in a firm for three years, the two things will be very different from each other. In fact, recently a study conducted in England has revealed that what makes this profession unique is its requirement for practical skills. It cannot be avoided at all; on the contrary, it is what makes this profession unique and unparalleled.
GradInsights: We would like to know one other thing. Nowadays there are many private universities mushrooming around Dhaka, which yield almost thousands of business graduates every year. Most of these graduates study BBA major and/or MBA majoring in Accounting or Finance. Will the pathway be the same for these graduates? In this case, does their educational background matter?
AFN: Regardless of whether it be a graduate of Dhaka University, National University or some private university, many of the students that now sit for the CA exam pass it in one go, the key to which is studying. There is absolutely no alternative to it if one wants to do well, not only in this field but also in other fields. The requirement is that one needs to prepare well for the exams that will be sitting for.
GradInsights: So what are the different services that Hoda Vasi provides?
AFN: Hoda Vasi is an old firm. It is of Scottish origin and was established circa 1962 in East Pakistan, and it was known as and Company. After the independence of Bangladesh, it changed its name to Hoda Vasi. In Bangladesh, it mainly specializes in audit, tax services, business advisory services and consultancy. Some of the services are related to HR, such as payroll processing.
GradConnect: Many new technologies are being used by firms in recent times, like upgrading the ERP. Do you also provide these technologies?
AFN: No, we do not. We are not concerned with these as we are not an IT firm. We do help the firms using these, and we are the often the accounting partner in such cases, but we do not get involved as it is not our sector.