29 September, 2022

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CA Sri Lanka, Audit Firms & Their Slaves

By V. Kanthaiya

Long ago, perhaps not so long ago, and to be more precise, at a particular occasion between 1828- 1910, Leo Tolstoy said the following,

“What a misguided world where the rich, who live off the labour of the poor, consider themselves benefactors of the poor”.

Keeping those words of wisdom aside, let’s take the history of slavery in the USA. The southern states took the critical decision to secede from the union due to the issue over the expansion of slavery into the new western states. The slavery, at the present context is looked upon as a practice that is inhuman and savage . In the past, it was not. It should be noted that eleven states of USA went to war to hold their “right” for slavery, based on the justification that slavery gave the cheap labour to the cotton economies of these states.

CA LankaIn the present civilized world, slavery exists. It is not in the same format as the past where human beings would be chained and forced to do physical work. Now it is done through the labour contracts, where the powerful corporates use the low standard of living of the particular segment of the society to exploit them to make profits. Just think about this. Why the ‘garment companies’ put up their businesses in the developing countries like Sri Lanka & Bangladesh? Why not in USA and Europe? The profitability in labour/human resource intensive industry is decided by the cost of the labour/human resource. So for the profitability, of which that the corporates and the entrepreneurs are desperate, will do their maximum to find the cheap labour and locate their labour/human resource intensive business there. Well! That is acceptable to some certain extent, because this is done based on the market equilibrium of demand and supply of labour/human resource.

But certain educated Sri Lankan’s are brilliant enough to create a cheap human resource and make a big profit margin, exploiting the low cost of it. The price of the human resource is not decided based on the demand supply equilibrium of the market. Instead it is decided by some of the powerful elements in the society, deliberately to make profits, from the hard works of others. This is a modern slavery, which you can’t identify, because the slaves would be in office attire.

Let me dig into this. I have been an audit trainee for eighteen months, during 2009/10 period. My first allowance was Rs. 2,500 and I was being paid Rs. 5,500 when I left the firm to join a corporate company. The accountancy body, I was associated with didn’t compel me to join an audit firm. I joined voluntarily to gain some experience. The employment was challenging and was quite potent with technical experience. Once I found a better employment opportunity with a corporate company, using the experience I gained in the audit firm, I left it. The audit firm didn’t have any control over me.

The students of CA Sri Lanka are not that much fortunate. They need to sign a practical training agreement with the audit firm, for a period of three year, each year consisting of a minimum of 220 days, excluding any leaves & holidays[i]. As per the agreement the student should have a supervisor (A chartered Accountant from CA Sri Lanka), and the work done should be recorded on a daily basis and signed by the supervisor. This gives the firm and the supervisor a total control over the trainee. Other professional institutions, such as CIMA & ACCA too require practical experience. However they do not stress on the rigid rules like those imposed by the CA Sri Lanka. These institutions leave the internship of the students at their own discretion, and they test the practical knowledge and the competency of the students in various other ways, not through the ‘training record book’ which the CA Sri Lanka relies on.

One may feel quite strange why I make a big tamasha about a professional accountancy body’s practical training. This is because that this very ‘practical training’ of CA Sri Lanka is the sole factor the Sri Lanka audit & assurance industry is based on and it is the same ‘practical training’ used by some powerful, malicious and shrewd elements of the society to make money out of the hard work of the young.

The following are the factors which help the audit firms of Sri Lanka to exploit the ambitious student’s hard work to make money, while paying them a meager allowance.

  • Once the ‘practical training agreement’ with the audit firm is signed, it would be extremely difficult/ completely impossible to leave the audit firm. This will give the audit firm a guaranteed cheap labour for at least three years[ii].
  • The necessity of the training record book to be signed by supervising “member” would give complete advantage to the ‘member’ exploit the trainee. I have personally witnessed female trainees being asked to stay and work till late night, despite their concern about their transport and safety, just to meet the deadlines. The female trainees do not have any option other than to comply, since making a supervising member/ audit firm not happy can lead the refusal by the supervising member/audit firm to sign record book, or even cancel the training , including the period worked.
  • The trainees are compelled to work from 8 a.m to late night, most of the days in a year. However CA Sri Lanka would only recognize minimum 7 hours to maximum 8 hours in the training record book. This means that whatever the additional hours worked will be of no use to the students.
  • Despite the fact that CA Sri Lanka does not recognize the additional hours worked, the audit firms stress that the trainees should work late night to meet the deadlines. However the institute has neither formally requested the audit firms not to ask (in fact, compel) the trainees to stay late nights to meet the deadlines, nor recognize the additional hours worked into the training record book.
  • CA Sri Lanka’s published allowance structure details out the minimum allowance structure to the students (which is available on the CA Sri Lanka website) presented along with this article. I leave it to the common sense of the readers to decide whether this is a reasonable pay scale for the value addition made by the audit trainees[iii].
  • Despite the meager allowance, the audit firms do not pay any overtime payments, as the employment agreement with the audit firm would include “For a fixed monthly allowance” clause.
  • CA Sri Lanka even determines the number days for the study leave, in a very manner facilitating the best interest of the audit firms. As per the training agreement, the trainees cannot take any additional extended leaves without informing the institute. The gives more comfort to the employer, not the trainees.

Consider myself as a layman, someone who does not understand the complicated terminology of the law, but who decides what is wrong and what is right based on the common sense. I want to ask a few questions to the ‘torch bearers of accounting and auditing profession in Sri Lanka’;

You are so much concerned about the related party transactions while auditing your clients, saying that people with common interest would not transact in fair value. I completely accept your point. How are you viewing the partners of the audit firms holding powerful positions in CA Sri Lanka which decide the allowance structure & the rules of training?, Can’t this be called ‘significant influence’? The council members of the institute for the years 2014/15 mostly comprise the audit firm partners. The president- Mr. Arjuna Herath, vice president-Mr.Lansantha Wickramasinge, immediate past president – Mr.Sujeewa Rajapaksha, council members – Mr.Sanajaya Bandara, Mr.T.Dharamaraj,Mr.Manil Jayasinghe, Mr.Channa Manoharan,Mr.Jagath Perera, Mr.Tishan Subasinghe, all these gentlemen are the partners of big audit firms[iv]. How can one say that the allowance structure determined by the CA Sri Lanka would be ‘fair’, comparing the value addition made by the trainees to find the adequate audit evidence to conclude that the books of accounts are free from material misstatements?

Once I asked an audit firm partner why the trainees are paid so low, despite the fact they are the people who enable the partner to form the audit opinion. He simply said that what matters of an organization’s financial statements is that whether it is certified or not. No matter how accurate and true the financial statements are, it will not be accepted unless a chartered accountant certifies it. So it is the chartered accountant who is the key value adding resource of the business. Well, in that case, who enables the chartered accountant to form the audit opinion about the financial statements?, can he/she blindly certify a financial statement of a company without auditing based on the proper audit procedures? It is the trainees who dig into the every transaction of the organization and give the comfort to the chartered accountant to certify the financial statements. The trainees do the real value addition, it is not the partner. In fact the partner would spend only a few hours, (in many cases, only a few minutes) on a client. Now tell me, do the trainees deserve to be paid such meager allowances which the CA Sri Lanka believes to be ‘right’?

I don’t even see that the audit firms are making losses, and the audit firm partners are washing dishes to make a side income to run their family. It is the arrogant, malicious, and vane attitude of the audit firms that the audit trainees are nothing but their own slaves who should undergo this hardship, just for these ‘mudhalalis’ make money. Its a well known fact the CA Sri Lanka is run by the big audit firm ‘mudhalalis’ and it’s an accounting body with a hidden motto of “For the audit firm mudhalalis, by the audit firm mudhalalis”.

Based this, I humbly request CA Sri Lanka to take the following steps;

  • To immediately review the allowance structure of the audit trainees, considering the value addition they make to the business, while setting the minimum allowance.
  • To consider changing the number of days to number of hours worked for the training period, considering the fact most of the audit trainees work from morning 8 a.m to late nights to meet the dead lines.
  • To formally request the audit firms to pay the overtime payment to the audit trainees for the additional hours they work, and not to include the ‘fixed monthly allowance’ clause in the employment contract.
  • To request the audit firms to disclose to the public how much they are spending for the training and development of audit trainees, apart from the “on the job training”.
  • To make sure that the audit firms do not make undue advantage of the rigidity of the practical training agreement, which is highly in favour of the audit firms.
  • To formally request the audit firms to provide safety to the female audit trainees who stay late night at the client’s office to meet the deadlines.
  • To be review based on which fact that CA Sri Lanka claims to be ethical and socially responsible while it is used as a tool by the audit firm ‘mudhalalis’ to make money under the shadow of the compulsory practical training requirement imposed by the institute.

I conclude my complaint to the public & CA Sri Lanka with the following words told by Leo Tolstoy;

“Neither prisons nor will police diminish the number of criminals. They will only be diminished by a change in the moral standard of society.”


[i] https://www.casrilanka.com/casl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=80&lang=en

[ii] FAQ, What will happen if I interrupt my training period – https://www.casrilanka.com/casl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=80&lang=en#faq

[iii] https://www.casrilanka.com/casl/images/stories/content/student/practical_training/allowance_structure_for_ca_trainees_2015.pdf

[iv]Profiles of council members – https://www.casrilanka.com/casl/images/stories/other_pdf/profiles_of_council_members.pdf

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Latest comments

  • 21
    2

    Wonderful Article… Just reflecting the minds of thousands of CA trainees..

    I hope someone will make an effort to publish this in Local news papers too for wider publicity…

    CA Sri Lanka is taking new initiatives in improving the brand image in recent years. This CA Training requirements and Allowance review will be a good initiative as well.

  • 13
    1

    Great article. I have a number of friends who work for the big 4 from not just CA but also Acca and Cima background who are forced to work long hours for meagre allowances often lesser than salaries paid to maids and watchers. Then there are BPOs who provide “training” by exploiting them even further to do trivial data entry operations. The amount of ugly politics, favouration and unreasonable HR practices within the firms are well known; for ex. more study leave for CA students than for other students following CIMA or ACCA. This all powerful nature of the firms and ICASL that their representives and partners promote and protect is at the expense of the scions of the profession, much like institutionalized HR abuse and a form of professional ragging. Thank you for writing this!

  • 1
    1

    How about a united Trade Union action – you must first fight your case. Give them
    sufficient notice of all your “demands”. let it begin somewhere.

    The monetary crimes with-in Lanka Airlines over a decade were all approved by
    guraded wordings of CA personnel at the expense of Tax payers.

    • 1
      1

      punchinilame,
      Not only Lankan Airlines, but all state enterprises thrive on bogus certification of audit firms.
      This was so, in the case of SLBC and Rupavahini during the eighties – depreciation of assets were deliberately omitted in annual reports, to convert losses into profits, to enable boards of managements grant increases in remuneration to employees.

  • 2
    2

    According to your theory, Wesrern exploitation started from 1980s, made China world second largest economy by 2010. Now 300-400 million Chinese people have access world best medical services, access to quality food, meat like in the West…
    There are lot companies moved their production to China, recently to Indonesea and Bangaladesh to survive. Those who haven’t moved got perished… Utilisation of human knowledge and energy is a noble thing and not easy thing to do properly. What potion of this utilisation become exploitation? What happen to the human energy/knowledge not utilise today…. Just wasted, can’t get it tomorrow…

    • 2
      0

      What the author has presented here is a real life example of the labour theory of value as propounded by Marx and Engels in Capital vol 1. If you truly seek answers to the questions you have posed, then take the time to read the original.

  • 9
    0

    The opinion expressed by the writer is exactly correct.

    I am a Fellow Member of the CA Sri Lanka and it is my opinion that CA Sri Lanka is adopting accounting training policies that are outdated and discarded by the developed countries many years ago.

    I thank the writer for writing this article. I my self have written on this matter several times.

  • 7
    0

    Wonderful article. I worked in an audit firm and I feel that the people at the top are exploiting the needy.

    The qualified accountants feel that they are entitled to treat the trainees the way they were treated. It’s time they re-evaluate the way they treat their employees.

  • 3
    0

    Kanthaiya, you are brilliant, as usual.

    I have never been an accounts trainee nor am I an accountant.

    But to tell the truth my blood was boiling half way through reading your article.

    Such injustice by the monsters called Chartered Accountants.

    And that famous Audit Company Ernst & Young who audited the accounts of Sri Lankan, when is that mfkr who certified the accounts going to be hanged on Galle Face Green?

    • 6
      0

      Navin

      “I have never been an accounts trainee nor am I an accountant.”

      Lucky fellow.

      “But to tell the truth my blood was boiling half way through reading your article.”

      Here is something to lighten your mood:

      An accountant goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner shows him three identical parrots on a perch.

      ‘The parrot on the left costs £500,’ says the owner. ‘Why does that parrot cost so much?’ asks the accountant. ‘It knows how to do complex audits,’ says the shop owner.

      ‘How much does the middle parrot cost?’ asks the accountant. ‘That one costs £1,000,’ replies the shopkeeper. ‘It can do everything the first one can, plus it knows how to prepare financial forecasts.’

      The accountant asks about the third parrot. It costs £4,000. ‘So what can that one do?’ he asks. ‘To be honest,’ says the shop owner, ‘I’ve never seen him do anything. But the other two call him Senior Partner.’

      manwalksintoajoke.com

  • 5
    2

    My sister is a chartered accountant and underwent four years work experience in a big 4 audit firm. Started training at Rs 2,000 per month and was getting Rs 40,000 at the time she left.

    She enjoyed every bit of it during the three years and would have even undergone the training whether she was paid or not. She was given leave for her campus exams as well as for her chartered accountancy exams.

    Joined a listed company at the age of 23 at a starting salary of Rs 75,000 per month 2 years ago and this would not have been possible if not for her training and the qualification.

    I guess people are entitled to their own view point.

    • 4
      0

      Ajith, you should understand that this article has never mentioned that the training you get as a trainee is bullshit. The article is about how audit firms exploit trainees to make profits. Just because a person is a trainee no company can use them to do all their valued work and get away with a small allowance.

      You have trainees in other functional disciplines as well, where the conditions are much more positive.

    • 4
      0

      Ajith,

      Even though CA Sri Lanka calls it ‘training’, but it is the real work, the audit firms get done by the trainees. They need to be paid based on the work they do for the firm. Sad thing is most of the audit firms do not pay even the minimum allowance.

      Luckily your sis has become a chartered accountant.But thousands of part qualified students are not fortunate enough to get that salary.

      There are so many passed out university graduates working for this little allowance in audit firms, just to complete the three year training. Can you get a person with with degree for this little allowance if you are a mercantile firm?. Just compare the salary of a passed out graduate with this allowance.

      The audit firms are getting this human resource very cheap because of this ‘training agreement ‘.

      A small group of people prosper from the hard work of thousands of CA students, with a minimal investment.

      Since the CA Sri lanka is infested with audit firm partners, the allowance structure should be decided by an independent body and the labour department should intervene and save these poor trainees.

      We shouldn’t be no longer blind towards this massive corruption.

  • 4
    0

    The feelings of all CA students’ and audit firm trainees’ are presented in words. well said, the payment scheme should be revised.

    The related party- that is the basement for all.

  • 2
    0

    This is nothing new – it prevails in most parts of the world as the ‘price’ paid by a trainee to gain a professional qualification that is marketable in the future. Slavery is IMO, the right way to describe it, but then, who amongst us who has worked in the corporate sector has readily joined such entities and not been such a ‘slave’?

    I fully agree on the two main points, (a) the wage is senseless in the current context, and (b) the hours demanded to be worked bear no relation to the contract signed. This is exploitation, nothing short, and it takes an enlightened corporate ethic to rise above this and recompense employees for ALL hours worked. Extra late hours and weekend/holiday hours should be paid at double (or treble) the hourly wage, as the case may be.

    Audit, Legal and Engineering firms charge their clients based on the hours worked/recorded for each contracted project / job. It will be patently clear that there is large scale exploitation if one were to do a simple macro level check: Separate the ‘management time’ from each project, sum the difference up for an entire month; then divide the total by the number of ‘regular’ hours for the working days of the month and the result should equal the number of ‘trainees’, ‘golayas’, ‘interns’ or whatever these poor souls are called. It may come as no surprise to find that the result will suggest many more employees in teh slave category than there are in the books!!!

  • 3
    0

    A good article and its unveil the hidden truth common to all audit firms from BIG audit firms who has connected with global leading audit firms to small one partner firms. You have properly explained the conflict of interest between the audit partners and CA council members which is the main reason to all these issues as I think.

  • 2
    0

    I also agree for most of the point he raised. When it address for fair payment to trainees ,we have a question whether other supporting staff ( tea boys, office staff) add value more than tranees in the firms. So the payments should be for fair work he or she performed. Anyway we cannot restrict learnig for hours/days. It is once for lifetime and the tranees is the one who is applying his knoledge into practice. So it is not good to say ask for overtime or hourly basis training coverage. At the entry point of profession , tranees should be given and taught the responsibility of his/her profession.

  • 4
    2

    I agree with the writer in few matters mentioned. But let me look at a different perspective too.
    CA’s are considered the best trained accountants and auditors than the CIMA’s or ACCA’s in general. The training the CA trainees get in an audit firm as an articled clerk under a CA, cannot be compared with CIMA and ACCA students. These CA students amass a lot of practical audit experiences and accounting knowledge in those three years, which cannot be received by other trainees.

    The cream of students who couldn’t enter universities to do medicine or engineering and who got their degrees, started joining audit firms in the mid sixties, in order to do CA courses. These brilliant students were denied entrance to universities not due to their academic non-excellence but mainly due to lack of space in the uni, standardization and various other factors.
    Those science students, who were denied university admissions, did so well in accounting firms, passed all their exams, with flying colors, beating even commerce graduates and got very promising, well paid jobs.

    It’s true they were ‘paid’ a paltry allowance, not enough to do anything with,.. so were the Doctors, Engineers and other student trainees in the uni. I consider working under a qualified CA in an audit firm, in order to study and pass CA exams should not be considered a full time job or slavery. The guys who did that sacrifice and “slavery” are all doing well, minting money and enjoying perks they deserve. In my humble opinion, working in an audit firm is just a rigorous training, heavy education and yes hard work. That’s why they excel later on in their life and it pays to do some decent slavery, after all !

    • 2
      0

      CA does not give you the facts in 2015. Its a whole new world.
      There are 40,000 students and only 250 pass out each year, so the hogwash of getting a good a training as it will pay off in the end is only for a tiny number.

      The rest are fodder, who should be paid a basic wage to survive, and not depend on others!

      No self respecting person of 21 wants to depend on their parents surely! Just think about it. Slavery is long dead, except in Sri Lanka

  • 6
    1

    I like this article because it is true. I worked for one of the big audit firms in SL for 4 years. They absorbed everything I had, but I was paid only Rs.1, 500 being a Business Graduate and Chartered finalist in 1997. It was sad at that time, but training I got was comprehensive. You are right about the underpaid labor and worked with deadlines. During my training I was really angry with my supervisor even whatever we did with our fullest effort he said go back again do this and that. Sometimes I worked overnight due to deadlines. The interesting thing was non-audit staff treated the audit trainees very badly. But we had to bear up all pains because we were bound in a training agreement. However, I am thankful to my supervisor now because the knowledge I gained from the audit firm is extraordinary. My opinion is anyhow if anyone works in SL audit firm 3 or 4 years under pressure can work anywhere under the sun comfortably.
    However, ICASL should change the rules and regulations applicable to trainees with the knowledge of the trainees. But I don’t think it is possible because all the CAs in Audit firms and Council members trained same like me when they were students. Therefore, it is impossible for them to be relaxed to retain trainees in their firms.

  • 1
    0

    a really good article about modern slavery…good job..

  • 2
    0

    Sarath,

    You say in the last line that change is impossible because the CAs themselves were trainees one time.
    This is terrible!. Just because we did not get a fair deal can we not be fair by others? We cannot undo what happened to us but why can’t we make it right for the others who come. Otherwise, no positive change will ever happen. We have to start with ourselves.

    Good luck and happiness to you.

  • 2
    0

    As a UK Chartered Accountant, who had to completely depend on my monthly income as a Student Trainee Accountant to live,and study, I have been a critic of the CA Sri Lanka, and its practices vis a vis its students for a very long time. CA Sri Lanka uses false advertising practices to entice students to enroll with them, without coming clean on what the students can expect and the chances they may have of survival through to qualification and admittance into the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka students have to depend on parents and borrowing to survive, which prevents truly capable, but financially stressed students from contributing their full potential.

    http://www.kalpanakaranna.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-institute-of-chartered-accountants.html

    I might add that I never applied for reciprocity to get admittance into the Sri Lanka Institute as I would then be a party to this crime, and would not be strong enough to affect any change from within.

    It is therefore with interest that I just read another article by a recent student who is articulate enough to further elaborate another aspect of deficiency of the Institute by incongruous rules built into the Student Training Contracts, so as to effective enslave them!

    The CA Sri Lanka elected officials had better take heed to these warnings sooner rather than later, if they are NOT to face a class action lawsuit that will put all these partners in big audit firms in jail for infringing on the human rights of the people they purport to assist!

    As a Chartered Accountant, I can firmly say that the training and potential training can give an individual what it takes to lead any Organization or even any Government anywhere in the world. It is therefore necessary that the people who enter this field are selected on all round capability and rewarded in a way to maximize their productivity to our society, from the start, as they can contribute immensely to the development process of Sri Lanka, and the short sighted failures of society namely the Partners in Large Firms who just vegetate there, as they will not be able to find employment anywhere else, are left to Lord it over CA Sri Lanka, and determine the fate of thousands of the best in Sri Lanka, and possibly suppress the creativity and talent of those who enter the training period, by their very actions, aimed merely at protecting their turf and their income.

    This is NO DIFFERENT to the JVP unions who have resulted in some extremely promising companies closing down and leaving Sri Lanka, due to their selfish practices, only thinking of their personal well-being instead of the greater good of the Nation.

    Let us hope we finally are able to attract some true leaders to the CA Sri Lanka for change! They may finally put the good of society above personal financial greed.

  • 1
    0

    This is very true. I have personal experience of going to pick up my child at late night from a private firm where they worked to achieve the deadline of the audit firm. No additional allowance or nothing.

  • 4
    0

    I had worked for two audit firms, out of which the first one, you could consider as one of top players in the market (or could be ranked as No.1 or No.2) out of the Big 4 (which AH is a Partner).
    I witnessed how trainees were treated like dirt, literally by the HR Personnel(One particular lady) who were in-charge of the trainees. To make matters worse, this so called lady had not even passed her GCE O/Ls and she was hired based on the fact that she hailed from the same town as the HR Partner at the time of her recruitment.

    This is a vicious cycle, as the trainees of today go on to be so called “CA”s tomorrow and the cycle continues and they forget the difficulties and hurdles they faced as trainees and go on to punish the new batch of trainees and the “New Meat” in the Grinder so to speak.

    I know this may be outside the point of this Article, but a regulatory body should look in the ways in which Audit work is performed and how some startling Audit observations are slowly pushed under the rug on the recommendation of the Audit Partner of the Contact of the Audit Partner representing the Client.

  • 1
    3

    Dear Author,
    I was an audit trainee from 1976 to 1980. I earned an excellent training thru the accounting firm. It was a medium sized firm. receive Rs 75 a month allowance. I think you should look at a tremendous opportunity of trainning you gathered and how this trainning built and get you ready for the future.
    Don’t be silly thinking about the allowance and hardwork you performed during the 3-4 years of apprenticeship. Look at the great people the process made. look at all corporate heads and accounting genious in srilanka who have gone thru the process. Stop complaining about a little hardship which will prepare you to add value to the country.

  • 1
    1

    A SHORT TERM PAY OFF TO ENHANCE COMPETENCE (KNOWLEDGE,SKILL AND ATTITUDE) FOR A LONG TERM FRUITFUL GAIN AND NOT SLAVERY !!
    ANY QUALIFIED CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT WOULD AGREE ON THIS WHEN COMPARED WITH A FRIEND OF THEIRS WHO DID A JOB DURING THOSE 3/4 YEARS RATHER THAN AS A CA TRAINEE.

  • 0
    0

    This would be not only relevent to the audit firm but also relates to the BPO companies as well.now they tried to recruite CA students as trainees as much as possible. Since they know its profitability.

  • 0
    0

    Yes, it is the pathetic situation. Only those who goes to the audit training can become supervising members, that means if you wish or not, you have to go audit training. No work life balance to the students of the high esteemed profession. But the members enjoy all damn holidays. For audit opinion, they charge millions, but all the works are done by trainees. We work, they earn mentality has been well routed in the studentss minds. No one made or wants to make any sensible decision on this.

  • 1
    1

    When I was an audit trainee back in the early 90’s our starting “allowance” was Rs.700/- and when we went on a new audit we had to carry several box files, wear ties and travel by bus in the afternoon dripping of sweat! Finding old files in the stores was a job dedicated to junior trainees and I can remember when we used to even climb ladders in office attire sometimes to find an old, dust covered file to get information. The trainees these days have laptops, travel in A/C luxury and are paid a “princely” starting allowance of Rs.5,000/-!
    And I worked for one of the big five firms whose name starts with an E! Nevertheless, although I agree with the sentiments that trainees are grossly underpaid, overworked and it should improve for better, the training and the experience I got as an audit trainee was invaluable and those foundations are what still keep me going as an experienced accountant today.

  • 0
    0

    Very valid argument, The Chartered Accountants “old boy network” has relegated students to a state of indentured servitude in the name of practical training.

    I nevertheless am less than confident that the author’s very justifiable and practical suggestions will receive even a blind eye. This i say bearing the incestuous relationship between the audit forms and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

    I hope that they at least realize that the quality of the CA graduate is currently dismal (since no person of means and character will be written to slavery).

  • 0
    0

    Well said . Why can’t we share this and impress people to make a change

    Literally most of the partners of the well reputed audit firms are the governing body of the CA Sri Lanka. Partners hold higher control over CA Sri Lanka decision making. What i found here is that they never make changes to current situations for trainees hence it will effect to their profit ultimately.
    But I accept they may also experienced same situation when the undergo training. But what was the mind set when they were trainess were changed with inflow of cash to their hand.

  • 2
    1

    What Mr. V. Kanthaiya saying here is not valid at all. The CA Institute does not make audit firm training mandatory. Any idiot with views like Mr. Kanthaiya are always allowed to go to a mercantile firm and work. So I really cant understand why join an audit firm and then criticize it in the first place, just leave. They always tell your allowance when you join and you nod your head then and then you come up with all these crap. Just say no then and let the firm hire some more worthy individuals who value them for what they are.

    I personally work in one of the top 4 firms and I enjoy every bit of my work. All people who agree with Mr. Kanthaiya should understand that it is not always the monetary reward. There are a wide spectrum of non monetary aspects of an audit firm training.

    So go get lost…………

    • 1
      1

      Vindika,

      All the mercantile firms are not ‘approved learning partners’ and they will not need such a massive influx of trainees to their companies. So it will be difficult for the trainees to get an opportunity to work in the mercantile firms.

      Other point you say is that there are some benefits beyond the monetary reward.If the chartered accountants say that, why do they charge their clients so much.Why don’t they do it for a lesser fee?.

      Why should a trainee work for a lesser allowance for a profit oriented firm?
      And why the firm compels the trainees to stay late nights and work to meet the deadlines? The trainee can be trained in the normal office hours itself.

      Every one is entitled to get the right amount of monetary benefit for the work they do. If the partners are living off a fabulous life, off the hard work of the trainnees, that means they are nothing but beggers.

      Please just ask a trainee, whether it is ok for him to work with the same low allowance? or he would like to get the right allowance?. Please note that audit firms are not charities.

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        Hey Dinosaur,

        I agree on your point on mercantile firms. But I do believe that if you are good enough you will be able to make it to one of the mercantile firms never the less. There are a lot of them now you know.

        I would like to take this matter on an economic perspective. Remember that all things in the world are in equilibrium. If the audit firm trainees think that their allowances are not sufficient then why do they join firms in the first place? If they hadn’t joined then firms will have lesser resources and will have had to increase trainee allowances. But, it doesn’t happen? Why Not? Well because all trainees join because they are happy with the allowance. Every CA student who joins a big 4 firm knows the perks of been employed in one, so they are ready to accept that pay in return for those perks.

        I am a trainee in one of the big 4 myself as I have told earlier. I have only seen a handful of people in my firm going around blabbing about the allowance been too low. Almost all of them are happy to be employed with our firm.

        The fee that we charge from the clients are purely commercial buddy. You can’t argue about that. If the clients are happy to pay then why would you bother? I don’t understand your point here.

        Do you know how much commitment a firm put into developing its trainees? How much they spend on training sessions? Most trainees leave after their 3 years training period. So why put in so much for them? Because firms care about their trainees. At least I am happy to say that my firm does.

        Buddy in my experience no trainees are compelled to work late nights. It is part of our job. You should know that there are jobs like that in every sector. How long would a medical practitioner or a software engineer work? Some jobs require long hours. In my experience we always try to minimize long hours. So do efficient engagement teams work late? No. They don’t have to. I work late night because I love what I do. No body forces me to.

        You seem to think firm partners are having a free “fabulous” life. You have no idea as to how hard my Partner works. We see it daily when we deal with the partners. With all that work load, it is amazing as to how they devote time on behalf of the trainees to guide them and mold them. You absolutely have no idea. The partners in my firm give so much commitment in every engagement. Yes, Partners get rewarded well for their work. Isn’t it obvious? They are Chartered Accountants, any many of them way more qualified than that. Don’t they deserve that pay?

        In my firm we all work as a team. We all have our parts. Partners are no exception. We are all considered individually entrepreneurs. All our work is appreciated. And most of all we all love what we do. That is why my firm is so good in adding value to our engagements and clients.

        Whether you like it or not, as a trainee you are only worth what you are paid. If you want a better pay don’t go around blabbing, posting lame articles. Up your game. Become a Chartered Account. You will then get paid well, even in firms. If you are not happy. The find go find another job!! You are not adding any value to your firm in this attitude and without been passionate about it.

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    Most important factor of CA Sri lanka is during last few years the have made some incremental changes. Starting from refurbishing the building, launching new degree programs & IT courses, modern facilities for CA Students ( Computer labs, New Library, New cafeteria ..). Also they have updated the syllabus to be inline with CIMA & ACCA. The only thing CASL forgot has been freedom provided by UK Accounting bodies to their students. There will be no effect until this training ties with the final examination requirement. If CASL cannot compel member firms to increase the allowance at least they should let the students to do the final exam without training barrier. CIMA & ACCA students take all subjects without training. But CIMA & ACCA do not recognize them as members, they are past finalist. they would be members once completed their training. Without a training agreement audit firms may have to pay a sufficient allowance to contain the students. otherwise this WHITE COLLAR SLAVEY will continue there won’t be any remedy.

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    Interesting article; one that tells us much as we read between the lines.

    1. Given the parlous training agreements, there should be shortage of trainees waiting to join firms. Why is it the opposite?

    2. Accepted that the trainee does all the hard work, but who carries the can when things go wrong?

    3. Present day accountants seem to want experience on a plate. Their status was earned by a rigorous training regime that prepared them for the professional rigours that allowed them to justify premium rates. What would happened when word got around that they now qualify ‘half-baked’.

    Come on CA’s, you have nothing to lose but your status.

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    I’m sick of this life :-( 8 months to complete 3 year agreement :-(

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