Finance career options:  From CA to CFA
Updated on May 1, 2014 - 3:16 p.m. IST by Aeshwarya Tiwari

EVERYBODY thinks that a career in the finance sector is all about money. This is not exactly the case though it is related to money. Obtaining a degree in banking or related field is just the first step towards a thousand mile journey. At this juncture a fresh graduate should take stock of available career options and weigh the industry sectors that have maximum openings. One may also factor in career growth. But to cash in on this, one has to be industry-ready. “The Finance and Accounts departments are essentially the lifelines of any organization and companies often prefer candidates with skills and expertise,” says Rishi Kumar Sharma, CA.



Banking and Finance sector has immense growth potential. Most players now focus on the rural segment where banking and financial services penetration is very little or negligible. This is also the sector which recruit in bunches. Around 25 application are pending with RBI for new banking licenses, which means that once they start their services there will be a huge demand for trained people. New financial institutions and private banks have entered this field, broadening the range of banking services and resulting in more options for trained personnel.

Financial management provides a number of career options ranging from financial planning to sales. The primary focus is on study of concepts in specialized subjects and topics related to General Management, Banking, Finance, Economics, Law and various soft-skill training. The curriculum also includes a comprehensive study of the banking processes.

Debasish BiswasDebasish Biswas

Country Head,

CIMA India


"Management accountancy as a career option in the country is fairly new as compared to other commerce career options that have been around for decades now. Having said that, management accounting as a long-term career has found immense favour with the Indian student population"

Indian Economy

Indian Economy is poised to touch US$ 5 trillion by 2020, pushing the demand for  qualified banking professionals and those with the required skill-sets to manage financial markets

Job profiles

After completing Postgraduate Diploma in Banking & Finance (PGDBF) you can begin your career as a Probationary Officer in private or public sector banks. A Probationary Officer can reach up to the level of bank chairman. Remember, ChandaKochhar, who started her career as a Management Trainee with ICICI bank in 1984 rose to the position of Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

In private and international banks, graduates can get jobs like that of a Project Finance Manager, Equity and Fixed Income Settlements Specialists, Commercial Finance Manager, Compliance Officer, Corporate Banking Trade Analyst, Cash Management Operator and Consumer Banking Asset Operator. Other job profiles are: Business Analyst, Market Risk Analyst, Corporate Banking Credit Analyst, Consumer Banking Asset Operation Manager, Forex Head and Corporate Banking Branch Head, in banks like ABN AMRO, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Plc, HSBC, Citi Bank N.A. Dresdner Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Standard Chartered Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland.


Top course

Postgraduate Diploma in Banking & Finance (PGDBF)

Offered by Federal Manipal School of Banking (FMSB), this course is an exclusive partnership forged between Federal Bank and Manipal Global Education services to develop Bankers of tomorrow.

Duration: One year

Eligibility: Gradutes with minimum 60% marks

Fees: Rs. 3.30 lakhs.

Admission criteria: Through aptitude test and PI conducted by the institute




Driven by rising personal incomes, corporate restructuring, de-regulation and liberalization of financial markets, the Indian economy is expected to become a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2020. Financial market is a broad term that refers to any marketplace where buyers and sellers participate in the trade of assets such as equities, bonds, currencies and derivatives. India’s financial system comprises financial institutions, financial markets, financial instruments and services. Financial intermediation in the organized sector is conducted by a large number of financial institutions.

“Never before has the country needed the services of Accountancy/Finance Professionals in every facet of the economy,” shares Rishi Kumar. This domain deals with Financial Institutions & Markets, capital markets operations, corporate finance, commodities market and the core focus is on Foreign Exchange and Currency Markets, Financial Valuation and Modelling, Equity Research, Financial Econometrics, Wealth Management, Investment Banking, Mutual Funds & Fixed Income Securities.


Job profiles

After completing the course one can find placement as a Financial Planner, as an Analyst - equity, technical, derivatives, as fund/risk/portfolio/wealth manager. Most of the recruitments are done by banks, consultancy firms, mutual fund houses, research firms, KPOs, broking firms, equity research firms and capital market players.


Top Courses

1. Post-Graduate Programme in Securities Markets (PGPSM)

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has established the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) that offers Post Graduate Programme in Securities Markets. The full-time course deals with fund management, sales/product and brand management, operations and services, information technology, financial advice and planning among others.

Duration: One Year

Eligibility: Graduate. Experience of 6 months to 2 years is desirable, but not essential.

Fees: INR 3 lakhs

Admission criteria: GMAT, XAT or NISM scores



2. PG Programme in Global Financial Markets (PGP-GFM)

BSE Institute Ltd., a capital market educational institute, offers full-time PG programme in Global Financial Markets (PGP-GFM). It deals with fundamentals and economics of the financial markets, capital markets, corporate finance, portfolio management, securities and business law.

Duration: Two years (20 modules)

Eligibility: Graduates with minimum 50% marks

Fees: INR 4.25 lakhs excluding service tax.

Admission Criteria: On the basis of entrance exam conducted by BSE Institute Ltd or valid CAT/MAT or MAH-CET scores. The selection is based on the basis of GD PI.



3. Post Graduate Diploma in Management in Financial Markets PGDM (FM)

This is a full-time course jointly offered by National Institute of Financial Management and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. It deals with major areas of financial markets, equity, debt, mutual funds, currency derivatives and commodities etc.

Duration: One year

Eligibility: Graduates with minimum 50% from a recognized University.

Fees: INR 4.5 lakhs

Admission Criteria: Through NIFM-NSE online test. But those with valid CAT/GMAT/XAT/CMAT score are not required to appear in the online test. Selection is based on the basis of personal interview or video interview.



CRISIL Certified Analyst Programme

A Standard and Poor’s Company, CRISIL is a rating agency and also works in areas of risk and policy advisory. The agency that provides research inputs to leading banks and firms offers two-year intensive work-cum-study programme that combines job assignments, interactive workshops and academic studies to equip the learner with exceptional financial and business skills. “The financial services industry is highly knowledge-intensive. Hence, young graduates desiring to excel in this domain need to invest in developing strong fundamentals in their chosen subjects,’ says G Ravishankar, President, Human Resources and Strategy, CRISIL.

G RavishankarG Ravishankar

President, HR and Strategy, CRISIL

The financial services industry is highly knowledge-intensive. Hence, young graduates desiring to excel in this domain need to invest in developing strong fundamentals in their chosen subjects

“Other traits that differentiate ‘good ’finance professionals from the ‘great’ ones are detail orientation and analytical rigour. These are the pillars of a career in financial services. In addition, high commitment levels and a sharp learning curve are attitudinal aspects that go a long way towards ensuring success,” Ravishankar added.

Duration: Two years

Eligibility: Graduates with minimum 55% marks

Fees: Only application fee of INR 1500.

Admission Criteria: Through CCAP Aptitude test conducted by institute or on the basis of their latest CAT/XAT scores. If the candidate has equal to or more than 90 percentile with a minimum of 80 percentile in all the sections he/she will not be required to appear for the CRISIL Aptitude Test & will directly appear for the GD/PI round. Aptitude test is conducted at 18 locations across the country.



How to get in the sector?

Entry to this sector varies from course to course. Professional institutes conduct their own entrance exam. If you go for PG Diploma in Management you can opt for management entrances such as CAT/MAT/XAT etc. A candidate should have graduated with minimum 50% marks for pursuing the PG programme in this domain. Institutes shortlist candidates with the help of group discussions and personal interviews.


Careers prospects

The all-round demand for banking professionals has made public sector, foreign and multinational banks recruit more and more postgraduates, CAs and CFAs to enhance their efficiency. Financial intermediaries segment offers the maximum numbers of high quality, high-pay jobs in the Banking and Finance sector. There are several jobs in Finance and Accounts even for a fresher. “I would advise young graduates to spend some time studying at a specialized training institute, and taking a ringside view of the market while participating in a small way and then taking a plunge,” advises AmbarishDatta, MD&CEO BSE Institute. While applying for an entry-level job in Finance or in Accounts, you can choose from a wide variety of job profiles matching your qualifications.

 “There are a variety of career options available in the domain ranging from traders, investment advisors, equity researchers, technical analysts to investment bankers,” adds Datta,





Chartered financial Analyst programme helps you become an Investment Banking Analyst

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA Program was instituted by the CFA Institute in USA, a global association of investment professionals. This has a globally recognized, graduate-level curriculum that provides a strong foundation of real-world investment analysis and portfolio management skills along with the practical knowledge you need in today’s investment industry. The first time enrolment fee is INR 27000 and the exam fee is INR 49000. CFA SushantSuri, Director & Lead Trainer at FinGuru Education Pvt Ltd shares, “Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of the skills most needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s fast-evolving global financial industry. That’s why employers and clients around the world are increasingly seeking out CFA charter-holders, often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.”

The curriculum is divided into 4 major areas such as Ethical and professional standards, Tools and inputs for investment valuation and management (Quantitative Techniques, Economics, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Finance), Asset valuation (Equity Valuation, Fixed Income Valuation, Derivatives, Alternative Investments) and Portfolio management. The duration is based on three levels of the CFA Examination - Level 1 Exam is conducted twice a year in June and December, Level 2 and 3 are held only in June. The minimum time taken to complete all the 3 levels would be approximately 2.5 years within a period of 4 years.


How to get in?

You need to be a graduate to give the CFA Exams. There is no requirement in terms of minimum marks or the graduation to be in a specific specialization. You can also give the CFA Level 1 Exam, while you are in your final year of graduation. But to give Level 2, you must have completed your graduation at the time of registering for the exam.

Sushant SuriSushant Suri

Director & Lead Trainer, FinGuru Education Pvt Ltd

Earning the CFA charter

demonstrates mastery of the skills most needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s fast-evolving global financial industry. That’s why employers and clients around the world are increasingly seeking out CFA charter-holders, often making the charter a prerequisite for employment

Careers prospects

“The CFA programme, unlike the MBA, is focused on investment knowledge and has increasingly become a mark of distinction for investment professionals. It is often seen as career booster for Wall Street executives,” says Suri. The CFA charter provides you with a strong foundation for a variety of career choices in the investment profession. It equips you with knowledge and skills in the areas of financial research, valuation, corporate finance, and portfolio management.


Job profiles

After becoming a CFA one can work as a Portfolio Manager, Research Analyst, Chief Executive, Consultant, Corporate Financial Analyst, Financial Advisor, Investment Banking Analyst, Accountant/Auditor, Strategist in public and private sector.


Certificate in Business Accounting (CIMA-CBA)   

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a UK-based professional accountancy body that focuses on the training and qualifying of accountants in business. It represents financial managers and accountants who work in industry, commerce, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. It is internationally recognized in offering financial qualification for business. Certificate in Business Accounting is an entry-level qualification, which gives you business experience beyond just financial accounting, and is gaining traction in India.

“Management accountancy as a career option in the country is fairly new, as compared to other commerce career options that have been around for decades now. Having said that, management accounting as a long-term career has found immense favour with the Indian student population,” says DebasishBiswas, Country Head, CIMA India.

The certificate level consists of five subjects - Fundamentals of Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Business Mathematics, Business Economics and Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law. The exam fee is INR 5000 per subject.


How to get in?

One can start CIMA after 12th standard, by enrolling for CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting. This has 5 modules with computer-based assessment. One can take the exam any time throughout the year. You can complete this in 3 months or 6 months or any other time frame depending on one’s own pace and comfort level. CIMA conducts the 3-hour exam in nine centres across India.


Chartered institute of Management Accountants trains financial managers and accountants who work in industry, commerce not-for-profit and public sector organizations

Career prospects

A course from CIMA opens up global career options. This programme develops analytical, strategic, planning and communication skills of students and prepares them to identify risk and way to avoid or offset their impact. CIMA works with leading employers in the UK and around the world to train and qualify financial managers. There are plenty of openings in India as well. “As India is the hub for finance and accounting outsourcing, and a large amount of financial transactions for global companies are processed in India, there is immense potential for CIMA professionals across all segments of industry, corporate houses and government sectors,” says Biswas .


Job profiles

One can work as Finance Director, Chief Financial Officer, Cost Controller, Marketing Manager and Chief Internal Auditor etc.


Company Secretary (CS)

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is a premier national professional body, which offers globally recognized company secretary programme. There are over 35,000 qualified members on the rolls of ICSI. Over 4 lakh students are currently enrolled in the CS course. Company Secretaries are responsible for efficient management of the corporate sector and act as an adviser in legal matters. “They will be the key managerial personnel and will be the chief governance officers occupying the corporate space effectively,” says CS R Sridharan, President of ICSI.

ICSI offers three level programme - Foundation, Executive and Professional. Foundation programme can be completed in eight months whereas Executive and Professional level are of one-year duration respectively. It is open to students of all backgrounds - Arts, Science or Commerce stream (excluding Fine arts). The fee for foundation course is INR 4500. Graduates can directly go for Executive Programme. The examination is conducted by ICSI twice a year in June and December. After passing Executive programme, a student has to undergo practical training for at least  15 months. After successful completion of training a candidate is eligible to be called as an Associate Company Secretary.


Career prospects

After becoming a company secretary, you can be employed in consulting firms, financial institutions, banks, private companies, Department of Company Affairs and regulatory bodies. One can also start independent practice. There is great demand for Company Secretaries in countries like UK, USA and many other countries. “The scope is enormous as CS professional. The students should capitalize on it,” says R Sridharan. With expertise in legal matters, securities law, capital market and corporate governance a Company Secretary is a vital link between the board of directors, shareholders and government and other agencies. They are also responsible for all regulatory compliances of a company. They can get employed in organisations  orpractise independently.


Job profiles

After becoming a Company Secretary, one can aspire to become a Chairman, Managing Director or find a place on the Board of Directors of a company.


Chartered Accountant (CA)

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body regulating the profession of chartered accountancy in the country. A Chartered Accountant (CA) is a person who  specializes in auditing, taxation and accounting. A CA also performs as a management and corporate caretaker. Currently accountancy as a profession has become more popular. “There are about 2.35 lakhs qualified CAs in India out of which a approx one lakh are working as employees in corporate and other sectors. With a booming financial market and service sector, there is a vast scope,” says Rishi Kumar. The CA course fee is approximately INR 49000.

Rishi SharmaRishi Kumar Sharma

Chartered Accountant (CA)


The Finance and Accounts departments are essentially the lifelines of any organization and companies often prefer candidates with skills and expertise

How to get in?

There are three stages to become a CA: Common Proficiency Test (CPT), IPCC and Final Examination. One can register for CPT soon after Class 10 but taking the CPT is allowed only after Class 10+2. The second stage, IPCC, comprises group I and II. You can clear both the groups and join the Final Course or just clear Group I - IPCE or Integrated Professional Competence Examination and join three years of practical training and in the mean time qualify for Group II. If you want to put a full stop temporarily after Group I and not go for Group II, you can still obtain Accounting Technician Certificate. All you need to do is to clear the four papers and complete one year of work under a CA in practice or in industry. You will be designated as Accounting Technician. Once you have cleared IPCC (group I and II), you can appear for CA Final while serving last 6 months of article training. Candidates are given 15 days of training in general management and communication skill after two years of Article training.


CA CPT (Exam)

CPT is the entry-level test for Chartered Accountancy course. It is held twice every year, usually in the months of June and December. A minimum of 50 percent marks in aggregate is required to pass CPT examination. The registration and course fee for CA CPT Course is INR 6000.

Careers prospects

CAs are sought-after professionals in specialized areas of accounting, auditing, corporate finance, corporate law and taxation. A CA also acts as a business advisor by preparing financial reports, helping the business to secure loans, preparing financial projections and determining business viability. As a tax advisor, a CA helps businesses and individuals to comply with tax laws. Professional Chartered Accountants have the option to be appointed as auditors of companies. They can also serve as a management and corporate caretaker. They can also indulge in their private practice of audit and consultancy. Tax Management is another area of consultancy taken up by CAs.


Job profiles

All companies registered under the Companies Act are required to get their accounts audited only by CAs. So a CA has the opportunity to join the Government Service, Public Sector and private sector. They can serve in the role of Finance Manager, Financial Analyst, Financial Planner, Financial Advisor, Director, and Financial Controller etc.


Cost Accountant (CMA)

The Institute of Cost Accountants of India is a statutory body. Cost and Management Accountant is a person who offers to perform services involving the costing or pricing of goods and services or carries out the preparation, verification, auditing or certification of cost accounting and related statements. CMA is a three-stage course based on a globally recognized curriculum that covers fundamentals of Accounting, Law and Ethics, Economics and Management, Mathematics and Statics. The course fee is INR 41000 and INR 32000 for oral and postal coaching respectively. One becomes a CMA after qualifying all the three stages.


How to get in?

First stage, Foundation Course is for those who have passed 10th standard or its equivalent. But they can appear for Foundation Course exam only after passing 12th. After completing Foundation course, one can apply for the Intermediate Course. Those who are applying for the Intermediate Course should have completed their graduation or the foundation course. Candidates who pass the Intermediate Course can apply for the final stage. Exams are held two times in a year, that is, in June and December. And the registration for the ICAI course is open throughout the year.


Careers prospects

Cost Accountants are in great demand in private enterprises, government sector, banking & finance sector, developmental agencies, education, training & research sector as well as in service and public utility sector. Because of their quality training, they can hold top management position in public and private sectors. Many are also engaged in cost consultancy services and in teaching.


Job profile

CMAs hold key positions as Chairman, Managing Director, Finance Director, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Finance Manager, etc in MNCs, private and public sector.


Way forward

There should not be any doubt about the job prospect of these courses whether it deals with Banking and Finance or Financial Markets. Each course has its merit. One may chose to do one, or also get qualified in other courses in order to increase skill-sets and gain a competitive edge in the job market. 

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