Abhishek Garg shares with us his internship experiences in 2 Chartered Accounting Firms – BDO and GT.
He is currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and is an article trainee at Grant Thornton LLP, Delhi in the Indirect Tax team.
Prior to Grant Thornton (GT), he was an article assistant at BDO, Gurgaon in the Audit and assurance team.
Everything about my Articleship:
“When it was time to start my articleship, everyone who asked me to try for Big firms I always told them this – Yaar, naa Mujhe English aati hain dhangse aur naa mere paas reference hain. But I guess destiny had something else for me,” says Abhishek Garg from Bahadurgarh, Haryana.
“Luckily I changed my mind and applied to the Big 10 CA firms. I attended interviews till Partner rounds at EY, PWC, KPMG, Lodha & co etc however after that no one from the firms contacted me.
You won’t believe how many times I got rejected, however, every rejection was a stepping stone to success. I finally got selected in BDO in the Audit and Assurance Department. Getting into BDO made everything so worth it.
My Journey as an Article Assistant at BDO:
Selection criteria at BDO have 3 rounds, which are as follows:
1. Questionnaire and HR Round:
- The receptionist handed over a page full of questions, no not the technical questions, but the details that your CV contain. The questions were like: Why do you want to join BDO? Why not any other firm? Which field do you want to join etc.
- I guess the purpose of the questionnaire is to give the HR an idea about yourself and your area of interests.
- In my case luckily the HR restricted himself to the answers that I wrote in that sheet of paper. But one needs to be 100% sure of what one is writing in the questionnaire.
- The HR also asked me about my proficiency in Excel. I honestly told him – I only have basic knowledge of excel, what I answered in my questionnaire. I remember, the same question was asked of another and she replied that she had practical experience in Excel! So the HR asked her to apply a shortcut to insert pivot table and she was unable to put the formula, she got rejected at that round itself.
- That time I realized that – One has to be honest when replying to questions. Don’t try to influence the HR with false talks, as he/she faces such candidates on a daily basis.
Related Article: My Articleship experience at KPMG
2. Managers Round:
- The second round the managers round is more of a – Technical round.
- The manager asked me to name a few Accounting Standards (AS) in detail. I spoke on: AS -2, AS-6, AS-9, AS-19.
- The next question was the methods of valuation of inventory as per AS-2 (as I spoke about AS-2 earlier!). So you see they question us on what we tell them, so one needs to be confident when deciding what to speak on.
- The other thing the manager asked me was on – Deferred tax liability, auditing standards, statutory provisions in respect of employer contribution to provident fund.
- So friends, please do prepare for your IPCC both groups academics at least before going for the interview and be sure regarding the words that you are going to utter, as the next question of the interviewer depends on the same.
- Luckily I passed the managers round and the Partner round was scheduled 2 days later.
3. Partner Round:
- The Partner round lasted for only 10 mins.
- This round no technical questions were asked. In fact, it was so relaxed, I felt I was talking to a friend. The Partner asked me questions regarding my family structure, my aspirations in life etc.
- All went well and I was informed that I was selected.
My first day at BDO:
- 7th March 2017 was my first day at BDO. With so many questions in mind, the excitement of wearing professional clothes I entered the shining premises of BDO.
- Laptop, ID card, biometric access, stationery with BDO tag is what I received on my very first day.
- Along with other newly joined articles, the HR introduced us to our Assurance team, IT staff, Administration department.
- I got assigned to my first audit in a few days.
- Audit life is so cool. Even though I was a fresher and knew nothing about corporate life I used to get so much of respect from clients. It was very fascinating at first. Gradually I realized that when you are a statutory auditor and visit your clients getting this kind of respect is normal.
- Though I was in BDO for a few months (as I took a transfer to GT in Indirect Tax team) I learned so much on conducting myself well by observing and interacting with others around me.
- I learned how to speak and present myself in a better way. Personally, it helped in shaping my personality.
- I learned email etiquettes and how to conduct myself professionally.
- As months passed by I realized that I was getting mature enough to handle various professional challenges that showed up.
- Yes, an audit article gets paid well in BDO but that would also mean working late hours, doing monotonous vouching activities for months etc. But the icing on the cake is the fancy off sites, the various infrastructure facilities, the grooming, and learning that one experiences at such a young age, makes it all worth it.
- I am very thankful to BDO for teaching me the way corporate sector works.
- Friends, please take the studies of CA Final seriously right from the beginning of Articleship. I have many friends in BDO, who have a well-planned study pattern and continuously follow the pattern.
Related Article: How do CA rank holders study and when do they start studying
- The ICAI has a Transfer Policy in place which says – Transfer of articles Is permitted without any restriction during the 1st year of articles.
- There is no restriction from ICAI in the first year of your articleship, so technically you can take more than one transfer in the first year of your articleship.
- I guess the main purpose of this is to help articles understand their area of interest.
- Details are on this link here.
My Transfer from BDO to GT:
- After all the great experience at BDO (8 months), I took a transfer to Grant Thornton (GT) as I got an opportunity in Indirect Taxation.
- With all the happenings around GST, I had this inclination towards it and always wanted to make a transition to Indirect Taxation (IDT).
- Through Linkedin, I applied for an opening in Grant Thornton (GT) in the IDT team and luckily got selected.
- Generally, big firms like BDO have a very good policy. They don’t want you to stay if you are not willing to.
- But friends don’t take this opportunity for granted, instead, consult a trusted senior article of the firm (who can mentor and guide) before planning to take a shift.
So from my experience, my advice to all:
- Choose your CA firm wisely. Avoid transfers unless it is necessary.
- Ideally one should work for at least 2 years after joining as an article and maybe in the last year one could consider Industrial training (IT).
- However, if you have decided to take a transfer, follow your gut and go ahead. In my case, an opportunity in IDT was something I could not miss.
- Taking a transfer from one firm to another could also be a waste of time because when we shift to another firm we again have to get familiar with that firm and its culture. Leaving one firm and adopting the new culture may leave you wasting a couple of months.
My Journey at Grant Thornton (GT):
My Interview at GT:
I applied to GT through Linkedin and luckily got shortlisted for an interview. So at GT, there are 4 rounds:
- HR Round
- Group discussion
- Technical Round (Manager ask various technical questions)
- Partner round
However, since GST implementation was happening during my time everybody was busy in client engagements and I was interviewed directly by the manager (direct technical round). The manager asked me the following questions:
- As I was from an audit background, I faced the much-awaited question – Why Indirect tax and not Audit. I was well prepared for this question and replied honestly – That Taxation was always my dream but since I got Audit first after a long wait I took it up. However now if given a chance I would love to take this opportunity and go for Indirect Taxation.
- The next question manager asked me was – What do you know of GST, I replied Composition scheme (as that time, GST was in the introductory stage I read basic things about GST and studied composition scheme in GST in detail). Luckily I was able to explain the composition scheme well to him and he was happy with my answer.
- Advice to all: Friends, here again, I would like to highlight, be sure of your answers when you reply. Now when he asked me what I know about GST I said composition scheme. His immediate next question was to explain the composition scheme in detail. So every question is interconnected so reply appropriately.
Finally, I got a call informing me that I was selected at GT. Again I just had technical round as the Partner was busy with client engagements back then.
Eligibility to be selected as an article assistant in Grant Thornton:
- Must have cleared both IPCC groups (there is always an exception)
- Either should have completed regular college or is pursuing bachelors through correspondence.
- Should have good positive influencing power (if you can influence interviewer, number of attempts hardly matters)
- You can get selected easily without reference (at least my experience at GT NCR branch). I didn’t have any reference and still got selected.
- How to apply- They have a very good communication medium. One connects to the – HR, firm employees and trainees through Linkedin or through their website.
- I am personally very thankful to LinkedIn as I was able to get interviewed in many big firms by connecting to various seniors/ HR on Linkedin.
Life At Grant Thornton (GT):
- The well-set floor, warm attitude of the HR, cool administrative staff and much more, I experienced on my induction day.
- The life in Indirect tax field is very different from audit and assurance.
- The deep study of provisions of GST Act, advisory to clients, relaxed work is all that I was looking for and touchwood, I got the same opportunity in GT.
- I learned the importance of reading my emails at least 5 times before sending it to any of our clients as every word in it carries value.
- In big firms even though we are restricted to a particular field, but deep analysis and learning compensate that drawback.
Physical Appearance for an interview (for boys):
Usually, as per various firms policy, the following dress-code may be suitable:
- Formal trouser and shirt
- Necktie of a sober color (can ignore in summers)
- Well groomed beard
- And the most important thing – Be yourself. Don’t get nervous or over cautioned. Many candidates lack confidence. So whatever is your background – Be confident (not over confident and over smart) and that would be a plus point.
How to apply for Articleship at Big Firms:
- If you don’t have any reference, you are really going to increase your worth –Yes, it is a bit shocking but it is true. So do not feel bad or sad if you have no reference.
- Generally, all the HR of big firms are active on Linkedin. You can also contact other articles/ employees through Linkedin and surely somebody will help you forward your CV to the HR.
- If you need any help forwarding your CV at GT, I am happy to help,” he concluded.