- Are you interested in immigrating to Canada, finding a job and qualifying CPA Canada but not sure of what to expect?
- In fact: In today’s article, Chanda Kuber shares with us the exact steps she took from immigrating to Canada, to starting her career all over again in a new country to qualifying the Canadian CPA Exams.
- Presently Chanda is working as a Manager, Accounting Policy and Advisory in a financial institution in Toronto, Canada.
- She is a qualified Chartered Accountant from India, a Canadian CPA and has done her Bachelor in Commerce.
- Here is her story.
Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant
I am Chanda Kuber, born and raised in Mumbai (India).
I am a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and a CPA Canada.
I immigrated to Canada in 2016.
My journey from India to Canada is best described by this quote – “If four things are followed – having a great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work and perseverance – then anything can be achieved” – Late Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, Former President of India.
My journey of becoming a Chartered Accountant, like everyone else, was definitely challenging and involved a lot of commitment, hard work, and sacrifices.
I was very disappointed when I did not clear the CA Final exams in the first attempt.
I lost confidence and blamed myself thinking I would never be successful as I was not a ‘First Attempt’ CA anymore.
My parents supported and encouraged me to ‘try and try, till I succeed’. Keeping this mantra in mind and a positive attitude, I promised to leave no stone unturned and gave my best shot.
Finally, all the hard work paid off when I passed the final CA exams in 2011. It felt wonderful to become a qualified Chartered Accountant.
Opportunity to work at Deloitte, India
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I got an offer from one of the Big 4 firms – Deloitte.
While working at Deloitte, I was very fortunate to work with an amazing team as well as learn the practical aspects of accounting, audit, tax, etc in various industry sectors.
After working for almost 4 years at Deloitte, I graduated from being an Assistant Manager to Deputy Manager.
Deciding to Immigrate to Canada
Life was going great but I soon realized that I was getting too comfortable in my little world, that I should move on to gain international work experience.
I was not sure which country and what exactly I should be doing so I attended a few seminars on working/immigrating abroad.
At one of the seminars, I came across the Skilled Workers Express Entry program offered by the Canadian Government. I did my research and was very impressed with the quality of life and the openness to welcome immigrants.
Finally, I decided to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) along with my brother through an agent-based in Canada.
Applying through an agent came at a steep cost but I still opted for it as I was unfamiliar with the entire process. However, I also did independent research, simultaneously, to make sure procedures/documents requested are in order.
A word of caution while working with an agent: make sure that they are registered with the Canadian regulatory authorities.
After screening my profile, the agency seemed to be very optimistic about my application and ascertained that I have a favourable chance of getting PR.
The processing time varies as each individual has a unique set of skills. It took me almost over a year from start to finish.
Throughout the application process, till the day I got my visa, emotionally, I had mixed feelings.
On the one hand, there was the excitement of starting a new life, an opportunity to lead an independent life as well as a chance to better myself and create a better life for my family.
On the flip side, I was equally nervous about quitting a well-settled job/career and possibly starting afresh. I was stressed about moving away from my loved ones and not being able to be with my family every day.
Finally, Moving to Canada as an Immigrant
Finally, in mid-2016 I moved to Canada, beginning a new chapter in my life.
Settling in a new country is never easy, I had to keep an open mind and brace myself to keep trying with the hopes of having a better future.
The initial few months after moving here were tough. However, on a positive note, it taught me to be stronger.
The more I communicated with people, it made me more confident to work in an entirely new environment.
I will always be thankful to my brother; he was the ear to all my rants in frustrating moments.
Finding a Job in Canada as a New Immigrant
Prior to moving to Canada, I tried applying for jobs from India (my home country), however, I didn’t receive a lot of responses.
In fact, a few companies/recruiters requested that I reach out to them only after I have landed in Canada.
From the get-go, I had decided that I would like to pursue CPA Canada as I was keen on learning Canadian Accounting standards and Tax system. After a lot of ups and downs, I managed to pass the Canadian CPA Exams (more on it below).
Here was my action plan to find a job in Canada as a new immigrant:
- Reaching out to my past employer, if they have an office in Canada
- Applying through employment websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Workopolis, as well as applying directly on the careers page of companies
- Recruiting firms are certainly a great help and help with leads
Getting a contract position at a Big 4 Firm in Canada
My work experience in India (my home country) and CA degree from India, as well as my interest in pursuing CPA Canada, helped me land a contract position at a Big 4 firm.
I got this opportunity within a few months after landing in Canada, which was not too bad.
I had directly applied for this role on the firm’s website. This gave me an opportunity to learn about the work culture, understand ‘working styles’ and also to blend in.
I tried to put my best foot forward at work and earned appreciation from Managers, Directors, and Partners, thereby developing connections and job references.
Soon after my contract at the Big 4 firm got over, I started looking for a job as I was burning out my savings to sustain myself.
Networking with professionals through LinkedIn does help and meeting them in person, has a significant impact on learning the nuances of the culture.
Reaching out to past employers and mentors, as well as approaching recruitment firms helped me finally secure a full-time job as a Revenue Accountant in a Software Company.
The average salary for a full-time job is very subjective, as it depends on a lot of factors like role being offered, negotiation skills, networking skills, etc.
However, for contract jobs that are for a fixed term, the pay-out will generally pay in the range of $20-28/hr.
I would like to add a caveat that this is subject to the various factors listed above.
Pathway to Canadian CPA
CPA is certainly one of the most respected professions in Canada and around the world. Similar to the states in the US, Canada has provinces and each province has its own regional accounting body.
However, Canada has merged its accounting qualification (CA, CMA and CGA) into one big CPA Designation.
While CPA Canada is the national level organization to support the unification of the Canadian accounting profession, there are provincial and territorial CPA bodies that work to regulate the profession. I had registered with CPA Ontario.
The pathway to becoming a CPA depends on the educational degrees held by the candidate.
So basically to become a Canadian CPA you have to give the following exams:
- Core 1 and 2 which consists of 6 courses
- Elective 1 and 2: These are basically two exams.
- Capstone 1 and 2 these are learning modules
- Final CFE: It is three days exams to complete the exam part of the program.
- Additionally, there is a requirement to complete 30 months of approved practical training.
- Pursuing the course in its entirety usually takes 3-4 years similar to the Indian CA course.
For CFE, provided below is the list of topics.
Pathway For Indian CAs Seeking Canadian CPA Designation
Having pursued CPA Canada, I have tried to identify the equivalent Indian CA course level to help provide an overview of the course.
However, please note that the formats, as well as the individual courses, are very different.
|CPA Canada||Indian CA equivalent course level|
|Core 1 and Core 2||CPT|
|Capstone 1||GMCS courses|
|Capstone 2||Not applicable|
Under the new MOU between ICAI and CPA, Ontario, Indian CAs are generally exempted from the following:
- Core 1 and Core 2
- Capstone 1 and Capstone 2
To qualify for the exemption, an assessment of qualifications is usually done by CPA office at the time of registration.
I had to give only two exams:
- Capstone 1 and 2: Become optional as per the new MOU, always good to register for this course
- Common Final Examination (CFE): CFE is a case-based test
Practical Experience: There are forms available on the website that are to be filled by all the reporting managers one has worked within their prior work experiences. These forms are then submitted to CPA office, they are reviewed to assess the number of months of practical training required for admission to membership.
My Journey Preparing For CPA Canada First Attempt
I qualified for exemptions available in the MOU between ICAI and CPA Canada and finally enrolled for the Common Final Examination course (CFE) and Capstone (though exempted under MoU it is always good to register for this course).
- The Capstone courses focus on group projects and presentations as well as self-study and practice.
- These have now become optional as per the new MOU. I will certainly recommend opting for Capstone 2 as it instills the habit of practicing cases and marked by the National marking centre which provides great insight on your performance in case writing.
2. Common Final Examination (CFE) CPA Canada
While I was focusing on my full-time job, I realized that the CPA – CFE exam was hardly two months away.
Trying to balance work (or finding one) and making sure adequate time is allocated for studying was one of the biggest challenges I faced.
With whatever time left, I started preparing for exams and regularly practiced cases.
I had access to the course materials provided by CPA, Ontario, simultaneously I reviewed the solutions for prior examinations
I felt very comfortable with the technical aspect of the exam, what was most challenging was the case-based format of the exams. There is a very specific approach to be followed while attempting case-based tests, and I got confused due to the lack of clarity.
Results turned out as expected and I didn’t clear the exams in the first attempt.
I was very upset with the results as it involved a lot of effort, time and money.
Passing CPA Canada in my Second Attempt
With the encouragement from my loved ones, I got back into the bandwagon and started preparing for my next attempt.
This is what I did:
1. Signed for Private Classes
- I signed up for private classes and started practicing 4-5 months before the exams.
- Attending private classes turned out helpful to me because it helped me focus on my case writing and at the same time direct my attention to the relevant technical material.
- If there was one thing I could change, I would have signed for private classes sooner.
2. Corrected my mistakes
- Correcting the mistakes, I had made in the past gave me strength.
- Based on my experience, during my first attempt, I spent a lot of time in perfecting the technicals, however, I ended up ignoring the thought process needed for case writing.
- So I worked on this as well.
3. Practiced case-based tests
- I was ready to sacrifice everything and was fully committed to giving my best shot in the second attempt.
- With a lot of practice, I got more comfortable attempting case-based tests and in fact, it refined my thought process in line with what is expected of a CPA.
I felt more confident, planned my responses, completed the exam within the stipulated time frame.
I will never forget the moment results were announced in November 2018, I was now a qualified Canadian CPA.
My parents had come all the way from India to help and support me during my exams and I was so glad to share this moment with them.
Key Takeaways from my Journey
If I could identify the driving factor that kept me motivated in this entire journey, it would certainly be:
Passion – Desire to learn
- Obtaining a degree is one part of the process, however, in my experience, the ‘learning’ never ends. It is always important to find your passion and follow it diligently, even when things get tough.
- I still recall my father enrolling me for CA course in India back in 2006 and asking me to give it a try but at the same time emphasizing to not feel pressured and overcome my fear.
- I absolutely loved the course and that was just a baby step to what became my full-time career over the last ten years.
People – who believed in me
- It is most imperative to surround yourself with people who believe in you.
- For me, it was my family, they never lost faith in me, and kept urging me to try my level best.
- I truly believe that the people I love and admire have contributed significantly to my success and I will always be thankful to them.
Perseverance – to keep reminding myself of my worth
- I understand that this is easier said than done.
- Everyone has their way of maintaining a positive attitude, find out what inspires you to keep going.
- It could be hanging out posters on the wall listing your dreams and reading them loudly once a day, talking to your friends and family about your prior achievements or even watching a movie.
- I believe this has a huge impact and is one of the most underrated ways of keeping up with your aspirations.
The power within you
- The culmination of the above factors contributes to developing inner strength and it is crucial to embrace that power within you. Comparing my journey to others has never helped me.
- Identifying my flaws, working on it and pushing my limits helped me get closer to the finish line.
- I am very proud of adding those designations to my name and to never let failures affect my career.
- Trust the process and ‘Never Give up’.
It has been only 3 plus years that I have made Canada my new home.
Looking back, I am glad I started all over again, as it was a great learning process and I value my journey embracing the positives and negatives.
I am very proud to call myself a Canadian CPA, imbibing Canadian values and confident enough to work in a Canadian work environment.
I am not embarrassed about the fact that it took a few attempts to finish these courses as it is no way a measure of my intelligence or commitment.
I will not deny that it did involve a lot of frustrating moments, fear of losing confidence in myself, questioning my ability and even considering the option of giving up.
I am sure a lot of people reading this article could relate to my story and understand the struggles.
BONUS: Actionable Advice from Chartered Accountants Who Moved Abroad
“My wife and I had been to New Zealand just after our wedding in 2016.
As we traveled around the country we realised we wanted to explore more in life. We both love traveling and experiencing new cultures.
We searched for a country where our skills are Transferable and Acceptable, and where a visa isn’t an issue(where a country wants and appreciates immigrants i.e. not the USA).
We could earn well in Singapore or UAE, but only Canada and Australia gave us what we really wanted and Canada is COLD…..so we decided on immigrating to Australia.” Read my complete story here.
“I immigrated to Canada from India (Kolkata) a few years ago. I am a CA from India and a CPA Canada.
Personally, for me, the whole process of becoming a Chartered Accountant is a kind of Marathon and it is up to us (the Marathoner) to keep the momentum going.
Make a study plan, indulge in positive self-talk, trust my own inner voice, and ignore comments from people. Enjoy the path and don’t compare yourself to others.” Read my journey as CA from India to Canada
“I was a CFO at a leading bank in India when I decided to immigrate to Australia.
Most of the companies in Australia DO NOT HIRE without a Permanent Resident (PR). So you have to get your PR even before applying for jobs.
Networking plays a very important role to get the desired job and Linkedin can be your mate to connect with recruiters in Australia.
The cost of living is high and you can find it very difficult to save and send back as childcare is very expensive here so take everything into consideration when moving here.” Read Why Betty Quit her Job and Moved to Australia
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you considered moving to Canada? Or are you already in Canada?
Comment below and let me know.
If you need a dose of inspiration, kindly reach out to me on email@example.com or on LinkedIn – Chanda Kuber.