- Hi, I am Ram Sarikh, a Chartered Accountant from India and a seasoned finance professional.
- I was a below-average student in school who scored only 47% in grade 12 exams. Also growing up in a lower-middle-class family made life more challenging.
- In 2002, I got to know about chartered accountancy and registered only to fail two times in my first level CA exam. I was made fun of, and everyone told me to QUIT….but I wanted to give myself one last chance.
- Fast forward, in 2008, I cleared my CA final in the first attempt!
- Here is my story of how being committed to my goal transformed my life.
Back Story: A below-average student from Delhi with financial challenges
Growing up in lower-middle-class family life was not easy.
I was born in Delhi, India however, due to a few challenges we had to move back to our hometown, which is a small village in Uttar Pradesh (India).
Fortunately, after three years our circumstances got better, and we were able to return to Delhi. I restarted my schooling here at a Hindi medium government school (not very fancy, most kids here were extremely poor!).
Fast forward, I secured 60% in class and decided to pursue my career further in the commerce stream. I was all excited, but there came another turn when my father lost his job, and he was forced to open a small grocery shop to keep things going.
Again, the shop ran into losses, so my dad decided to look for a job and instructed me to run the shop! I was anyways an average student and with this additional responsibility, I had lost complete interest in my studies.
Luckily just before my grade 12 board exams, my mother noticed my declining interest in studies and encouraged me to focus. (When I think of it now, if not for my mom I would have probably quit my studies!)
I appeared for the exams and just scraped through with only 47%, which was again way below average!
Horrible feeling of failing my B.Com and CA Foundation exams at once
With below-average marks, I could not get into a good university, so I decided to enroll for a B.Com at the school of open learning (Delhi University).
It was here that I came across a few classmates who were pursuing chartered accountancy from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India).
In fact, a friend of mine encouraged me to register and told me that the fees for the CA Foundation course (first level CA exam, today know as CPT) was very reasonable and I should give it a shot.
I pondered and decided to fill the exam form. I was now in my first year B.Com and preparing for CA exam too. To my surprise, I failed the CPT exam and my B.Com! This was not easy to accept as most of my friends had cleared their exams!
My father was quite disappointed and told me to focus only on my graduation and simultaneously prepare for the entrance exams of some government jobs!
I knew with a government job I would get a basic salary, but my life would not change much.
I wanted to move out of this poverty-stricken life, and then it dawned on me that it was only education that could save me. At that point, I knew having a reputed qualification like CA is the gateway to a better life.
I requested my dad to give me one year so I could focus on CA and if things did not work out, I would prepare to study for government jobs. My dad agreed and since then there has been no turning back!
My CA Journey: Clearing CA Foundation in the third attempt to CA final in the first attempt
Now I was all set to restart my CA journey once again; however, I had no one to guide me.
Since my friends were ahead of me and considering that I failed CA Foundation (the easiest exam in the CA journey) all friends (except for one) used to discourage and ridicule me.
I still remember one of them telling me, “You know CA has a passing percentage of only 1-2% and with marks like yours, forget CA, you might not even graduate.”
I was fed up with this kind of negativity and decided to avoid my friends. So now I would avoid hanging out with my friends and instead would study at a distant library. From that day, my life changed for the better.
I appeared for the CA Foundation exam and failed again.
What next? Should I give up? I decided to give it one more attempt.
I worked hard and focused on my basic understanding of Accounting, Math and Economics…and, fortunately, in my third attempt, I cleared my exams through self-study. This was a great achievement for a Hindi medium schoolboy.
My parents were more confident and encouraged me to focus on becoming a CA. But again, my friends, neighbors and relatives were still not convinced and continued telling me otherwise. I decided to ignore the naysayers and continue my CA journey.
Next was CA – IPCC (second level CA exam). This was tougher and needed a lot of preparation. I gave my best and cleared it in the second attempt. (Not too bad for someone like me! In fact, by now a lot of my friends were struggling to pass the exams!)
I started with my articles and simultaneously prepared for my CA final exams. And guess what? I passed my CA final exams in the first attempt. I was now a Chartered Accountant! This was 2008.
My passing has convinced me that anyone can start from any background and still succeed in life.
The way forward and key takeaways
After I qualified, I completed my remaining articles training of nine months. From there, I sat in the CA campus placement programme and was appointed at Coal India Ltd. I didn’t particularly enjoy working there though, so I left and went to NBFC.
Today I have a successful career in Credit at a leading NBFC.
- Your educational and financial background don’t matter; the only thing that matters is your DETERMINATION. If you are determined to do something, then it will be done.
- If you have passed the first exam like CPT/PE-1, it means you are now equal to those school toppers, and the base is the same for the next round of exams.
- CA is all about mental game rather than intelligence. If I can do it, then anyone can, provided they put their HEART in it. Everything else will automatically fall into place.
A complete timeline of my CA Journey 2002-2008
- I passed in the third attempt. (In 2002, it was called CA PE -1, today CPT)
- I had very little knowledge in accountancy, maths, business studies and economics. I decided to self-study and learn the basics as if I was studying for the first time! This helped and I passed in the third attempt with a pretty good score!
- CA IPCC has two groups. I applied for both groups and self-studied.
- I failed the first attempt and cleared the second attempt!
- I did my articles at a medium-sized CA firm in Delhi and got exposed to corporate life for the first time.
- I learnt a lot regarding taxation, statutory audit and internal auditing; it was a wonderful experience.
- I had also taken CA final tuitions, so my routine was attending coaching classes in the morning and rushing to the office for articles.
- I got only three months of study leave, so I drew up a detailed timetable and studied all day long.
- I did not even leave the house once during those 90 days.
- I would start studying from 7 am till 2 pm straight. Later in the day, begin at 4 pm and study till 7 pm.
- Fortunately, all of this hard work paid off when I passed in the first attempt.
CA has opened doors for a lot of things in life—respect, money, and most importantly, confidence in myself.
My passing not only brought joy to me but also gave hope to many others like me, that it is not your past or financial background that determines your future. It is your COMMITMENT that matters the most.
Keep away for negativity – self-belief is the ONLY KEY to success. Please read the book, The magic of thinking big, this book gave me a lot of confidence and helped me pass my exams.
Ram Sarikh is a CA and seasoned finance professional with more than a decade of experience in Credit.
Now It’s Your Turn…
What is stopping you from reaching your goals? Have questions for me? Comment below and I will reach out to you.
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