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Gulf countries are an invigorating destination for Accounting professionals from India. They have a flourishing economy, social security benefits and proximity to India. So Indians need not pursue extra courses exclusively for working in these countries.
Recruiters at major firms do not care about the nationality or background of a person. Instead, they look at the skills one can contribute to them. Some of the qualities recruiters prefer in prospective employees are-
- Communication skills;
- Technical skills;
- Ability to blend into the culture of that firm.
One skill that can be easily defined, charted out and planned for easily is technical skills. Computerized systems will be used for purchase returns, sales, sales returns and tax. In a nutshell, they are needed for everything required to do the job. How efficiently one can work with these would matter.
Lowest-level firms, places that most people start from, often cannot afford high-end software and stick to using MS Excel. So, it is no overstatement to say that familiarity and expertise in Microsoft Excel is a hidden ace in this field. Linking sheets to formulas and conditional formatting and how acquainted one is with this software can make and break their career.
At a higher level, knowledge of some advanced software is essential. While different companies use different software, familiarity with some in the species would be beneficial.
Tally, Quickbooks pro, ERP systems, Sage, etc. are widely used in Gulf countries. While a basic idea of these systems is enough for an average applicant, practical experience can benefit them greatly. To increase their chances at the top firms, one can pursue a course in these software. Additionally, acquaintance with MS PowerPoint in making presentations of accounts and MS Word for day-to-day reports is also helpful.
People often ask when is the time to start working on this- university, post-graduation or while working? The answer is simple- These skills need time to develop, so the best time is now. To chart out the path and plan the future, working on skills generally and soft skills especially is important.
How To Gets the Jobs
The best way to get a reliable job is to work at a domestic audit firm that has branches abroad. After a few years of working at a firm, it may allow you to be sent for secondments. An employee can talk to a senior who has already completed an articleship and is working at another organization abroad in audit firms. The employee must ideally also do their research too to ensure the opportunity works for them.
While pitching oneself to a senior for secondments, these skills need to be highlighted. Now, when the company needs to send a person for secondment for a few months, the senior or the employee can put their name forward.
However, if there is no company to rely on, a person needs to chart out their path. Most Indians who choose this course go on a visit visa. If they find a job then the visa is converted into a long term one. Still, entering the market is perhaps the most difficult step for any emigrant. The entry-level job in most of these countries is accounting. If your articleship is from the ‘Big 4’- Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) or any other good firm, your chances will increase.
After grabbing the most accessible and easy-to-get job right after immigrating, people look for better jobs. The best place to look for job opportunities is on the very website of the firm a person would want to work at. Even so, at times, firms- big and small alike- use LinkedIn to announce vacancies. Apart from this, Naukri Gulf and Gulf Talents are popular sites to connect job- seekers to employees. A useful tip is to constantly keep updating your profile and CV so whenever an opportunity at the major firms opens up, you can grab it.
Job opportunities at audit firms are often for small periods- like 3 to 6 months. They have a reasonable chance of being renewed, however, it completely depends on how well one is working there.
In today’s context, the pandemic has opened up a unique work from home opportunity. So, this is the optimal time to look for this job. It offers experience and exposure while giving the person an opportunity to try and be able to blend with the cultural shock.
Qualifications Needed To Practice
By and large, Indians prefer going to the United Arab Emirates for a job. Thus, this section will focus on the country.
A prospective CA in the UAE needs to enroll for a degree or diploma in a business-related course. The ideal ones for accountants are Bachelors in Economics and Finance, Bachelors in Business Administration, Bachelors in Economics, Bachelors in Accounting, Bachelors of Finance or Bachelor of Business Management. This is the minimum requirement.
After completing university, a person must get employment experience at an establishment. Additionally, a certification in accounting and finance is also preferable. A CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification is preferable to be in hand for a good job.
To practice as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and be able to represent the public in UAE, one needs to pass the Uniform CPA examination. Often, firms demand this for getting a job. Most go through this because it adds hugely to their job prospects not just in the Gulf, but internationally. CPA is an internationally recognized and sought after certification and opens up better and higher-paying jobs for all.
The professional and educational requirements for a CPA license vary from state to state. After this, the takers need to continue professional education courses annually to retain their license.
With these qualifications in hand, it won’t take long to find a job. However, one needs to do their research to ensure it is the best for them.
ICAI Dubai chapter
An accreditation worth mentioning is membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) of Dubai chapter. This accreditation is easy to get for a qualified Indian CA. Membership of the Dubai ICAI chapter will allow a person to participate in the chapter’s activities which can open up more opportunities.
Someone based in the UAE can qualify as an Accredited CA (ACA) if they are a graduate, member of another Chartered Accountants professional body (like ICAI or ACCA) or even if they did not complete their schooling. Usually, people prefer to start with the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB), and then complete the ACA qualification.
The eligibility criteria is simple-
- Any qualified CA;
- Who is a member of the ICAI;
- Is residing in the UAE; and
- Holds a valid residence visa; is eligible.
Additionally, those recently qualified CAs, who have a valid residence visa in the UAE, can become members by approaching the secretary of the Dubai ICAI chapter with proof of their credentials.
To practice as an auditor in the UAE, the professional needs an audit license. Again, an accounting degree or a similar qualification is essential. There is also the need to demonstrate experience in the financial or the auditing sector.
To be a certified internal auditor in UAE, an applicant needs to pass the CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) exam. While they can still practice as an external auditor in the UAE without this certification, it greatly adds to job opportunities and salary prospects. Moreover, this certification is internationally recognized and sought after and will open up opportunities internationally.
The eligibility criterion for the exam requires an associate degree or higher and accepts its equivalents. Even if a person does not meet these requirements, an exemption is made for those who hold 7 years of experience in internal auditing or any equivalent field. They must have a ‘high moral character’, attested by a supervisor. Next, the most important step is passing all three parts of the CIA exam. There is a fixed period of 3 years given to meet certification requirements.
Finally, the candidate needs to regularly meet the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) as well as the experience requirement. The experience requirement differs across educational levels.
What Jobs Should You Opt For?
The jobs that Indians usually opt for after migrating to the UAE are the most accessible ones- auditing and accounting.
Finance and higher posts like management are hard to get into when one is sitting in a foreign country. For this, prior experience in the country in comparatively lower-level jobs is essential. However, if a person wants to opt for general management, they have to start small. Starting at an audit firm, one can try to move to another industry or organization from there. Once the person has emigrated to the country and formed more connections there, this would become less cumbersome.
The scope of managing taxes for personal clients is lesser due to the lack of any income tax of earnings from employment, in the UAE and Saudi. Additionally, there is no corporate tax (though it might be levied in the future). The main tax is a value added tax (VAT) of 5%, as well as a 2.5% Zakt levied on businesses. Other than that, the main source of tax is customs duty. Similarly, the UAE does not levy income tax from income derived from employment on individuals. It does levy corporate tax on oil companies and foreign banks and excise tax on specific goods which are usually harmful to health or the environment. Again, value added tax (VAT) is levied on a majority of goods and services.
The hierarchy followed in UAE, as in most other places is- junior accountant, assistant accountant, accountant and senior accountant. As in October 2021, a fresh graduate accountant in the UAE earns between AED 2,500- AED 7,000 a month. This translates to 50- 143 thousand Indian rupees. On the other hand, a senior accountant receives more than 10,000 AED per month, which means more than 2 lakh Indian rupees. For an average CA at a Final level working in an audit firm, the salary would average around 86 thousand Indian rupees. Additional qualifications will increase the salary to between 1.5L- 1.7L INR.
5 Top Accounting Qualifications To Boost Your Career in the UAE
Accounting professionals in the UAE who have a certification from a professional body are among the highest paid in the Middle East region, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) on 2019.
The responses also show that professionals holding advanced degrees earn an average salary that is 96 per cent higher compared to those with only baccalaureate degrees, while those in top management positions earn 88 per cent more than those in senior management positions.
1. Chartered Accountant
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)
Getting a chartered accountant qualification might look cumbersome and time-consuming, but this will give you a sizeable and permanent career boost if you are in the UAE. ICAI has chapters in the UAE, enabling its qualified members to practice in the country effectively. The longer your relevant experience is, the higher your pay and growth opportunities get.
Chartered Accountancy takes three to five years to complete including exams and requisite experience. Common Proficiency Test or CPT is a preliminary qualifying test to assess your commerce and accounting abilities. You can attempt CPT after graduating from school (grade 12). CPT exams are held twice a year. Graduates are exempt from CPT and can go straight into the intermediate program.
Integrated Professional Course Certification (IPCC) is the intermediate program of CA and has two subject groups. The IPCC exams are held twice a year. After passing the first group, candidates must complete three years of on-the-job training as article or audit assistants (articleship). Candidates can then attempt the final exam during the last six months of articleship, after passing both IPCC exam groups.
2. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
CMA – Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (US)
Becoming a certified management accountant is usually to get one’s accounting career to the next level and therefore, is highly preferred by people at mid-level positions. The course study and exam formats are suitable for working professionals which heightens its appeal to people who do not want to quit their jobs to get a degree. For Indian expats who get CMA outside of India, you can apply for and get membership in the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), previously known as ICWAI.
Any graduate can apply for the CMA program – which has two exam parts and a two-years relevant experience requirement. For fresh graduates, you can apply for and start the CMA program. Meanwhile, work in a relevant accounting position towards the experience requirement.
Alternatively, if you already have two or more years of continuous experience and are currently working, you can use that as your relevant CMA experience when you apply. This means you can get certified in under 12 months. The two exam parts can be taken as single parts or together. Exams are held during three testing windows annually.
3. Chartered Certified Accountant
ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (UK)
ACCA is similar to the Indian CA in terms of subjects tackled and difficulty levels. It is also quite close in terms of professional scope and job prospects in the Middle East. However, unlike CA, this gives you more room for part-time study and is therefore a great choice for working professionals.
The program has a foundation level before the actual ACCA qualification. A candidate fresh out of school or who has had a long break from studies must start at the foundation level which touches upon the basics of accounting. Completion of this level qualifies the candidate to work in junior-level positions before they move on to the ACCA qualification. If you take three additional specialist exams with a year of relevant experience, you get a Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) qualification. The actual ACCA qualification has up to 14 exams (depending on exemptions based on courses taken previously) and has a three-year experience requirement.
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4. Chartered Global Management Accountant
CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK)
CGMA is a popular accounting course focused on management and cost accounting. As with IMA, CIMA also provides online learning and self-study help for candidates who want to learn as they earn.
There are two levels to becoming a CGMA along with a three-year experience requisite which can be from before, during or after your CGMA attempt. The first level is a foundation-level certification for those with little or no accounting experience. Relevant degrees or experience can get you exemptions at this level. Once that is done, you can move on to the CIMA professional qualification level. You can apply for exemptions here as well if you have the relevant qualification or experience.
5. Master of Business Administration (Finance)
Nowadays, MBA has become a basic qualification for employees in the accounting and finance industry. So much so that mid-level executives and managers, who have bachelor’s degrees in commerce, pursue MBA to give them a professional edge.
While distance and correspondence MBA courses are aplenty, make sure to take your degree from an accredited university. You can also consider taking a year off to get an executive MBA from a reputed university, which is focused towards working professionals with an intensive one-year program.
Any graduate can take up an MBA course. Correspondence courses involve online or weekend classes with yearly exams. Traditional MBA courses require you to pass a qualifying test, like Common Admission Test (CAT) in India or a university specific admission test.
Accounting Interview Questions and Answers in UAE
Worried about your next accountant interview in UAE? We have listed the top accounting interview questions and answers in UAE to ease the process for you. These accountant interview questions in Dubai are prepared to analyse the applicant’s viability for the role. They will not only help the interviewer judge your hard skills but will also help them judge the soft skills.
Go over these accounting interview questions and answers in UAE to increase your chances of cracking the interview. These are some common accounting interview questions and answers in UAE that will help you get acquainted with the country’s hiring practices.
1. Tell us something about yourself.
This is the most common question that every interviewer asks across professions. The main aim behind this is to melt the ice, and it also helps the interviewer to judge your background, thinking process, confidence, and communication skills. This question is also a great way for an interviewer to know which way they should direct the conversation.
Be careful while answering this question. Don’t get overboard, and don’t start telling stories. Be very concise in your answer, and be sure to put forward only those points that align with the job role.
Sample Answer: I belong to [place], and I did [course name] from [college name]. I passed out in the year [year]. Ever since, I have been passionate about numbers, and I am good at managing finances. I also have some experience in preparing and editing financial reports, which I learned during my internships. Now I am looking forward to upskilling myself and expanding my knowledge in accounting.
2. What are the different types of financial statements?
This is one of the most commonly asked accounting interview questions in Dubai. It lets the interviewer know about your basic knowledge of accounting. Answer carefully and with clarity. Remember to keep the explanation short, as it will reflect your level of understanding of the subject.
Sample Answer: There are three major types of financial statements: Balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. Balance sheets reflect where a company stands in terms of assets and liabilities. Income statements show how well the income sources of the company have performed. Lastly, cash flow statements reflect all types of transactions that have happened in the company during a certain period.
3. What is your understanding of working capital?
This is one of the most basic accountant interview questions in Dubai that interviewers ask to judge your foundational knowledge on the subject. While answering, avoid stating a textbook definition. Rather, focus on explaining your understanding of the concept.
Sample Answer: Working capital is the amount of money a company has at a given time after assessing all the assets and liabilities. It can also be defined as the money a company will need to fulfil its day-to-day operational activities.
4. What are the basic rules of accounting?
This is one of the most important accounting interview questions in Dubai because it helps the interviewer judge if you understand the basic protocols of accounting. Be precise while answering this question.
There are three basic rules in accounting:
– Debit what comes in, credit what goes out
– Credit the giver, debit the receiver
– Credit all income, debit all expenses
This question lets the interviewer know which accounting tools you are aware of, which ones you are comfortable with, and what you know about using these tools to optimise your tasks.
Sample Answer: I am aware of [tool names], and I am comfortable working with [tool names] as I used them during my internship. These tools are a great help for managing clients, reconciling bank statements, and generating insightful reports. With proper guidance, I am open to learning more about such tools and enhancing my skills.
6. How do you communicate complexities in a financial statement?
Interviewers ask this question to assess your ability to explain complex financial information effectively. It’s important for accountants to communicate complex information in a way easily understood by others, such as management, investors, or clients. The interviewer wants to know if you have the skills to translate financial data into language that non-experts can understand and if you are able to communicate the financials in a way that is easy to understand, it will be helpful for the company to make informed decisions.
Sample Answer: I believe that clear and concise communication is key when explaining complexities in a financial statement. The first step to do this is to break the data into smaller, manageable chunks to ensure that all parties understand the information. Using plain language to explain the technical terms and concepts and supporting my explanation with visual aids, such as charts and graphs are some things that I will ensure to help make the information more easily digestible.
7. How do you ensure your work is accurate?
This is a trick question that will help the interviewer judge if you are aware of how you can identify mistakes in your work and how you plan to rectify or prevent them. While answering, be open to accepting the fact that you can make mistakes while working. Support it with how you ensure mistakes aren’t repeated and that your work is accurate.
Sample Answer: While mistakes are always possible, some of the ways I follow to ensure accuracy in my work include staying up-to-date with my accounting duties. Keeping everyday records makes it easier to keep track of all the finance activities and will significantly reduce the scope of mistakes.
8. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is one of the most important accountant interview questions in Dubai as it tests your personality other than just your technical knowledge of the subject. Knowing strengths and weaknesses shows your self-awareness and indicates that you accept your weaknesses/flaws and aim to work on them.
Try aligning your strengths with the company goals, and don’t skip talking about your weaknesses.
Sample Answer: My strengths include strong analytical and management skills. I am a team player, a fast learner, and I am always open to learning new things. On the other hand, not being aware of all the requisite tools is a weakness I have, but I am more than happy to learn. Sometimes I struggle with putting my thoughts forward, but I am working on it.
9. How keen are you to join our company?
Consider this question as a test of your determination to join the company. It also tells the interviewer how much you have researched about the company and how your individual goals align with the company’s goals.
Sample Answer: I am keen to join the company because I feel it will allow me to grow professionally and will also take me closer to my future aspirations. I am just stepping into my professional career, and I feel this is the best place for me to start.
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This one has to be counted in our list of the most asked accounting interview questions and answers in UAE. The interviewer asks this question to know about your long-term plans and your commitment to the company. Be careful while answering this question. Refrain from saying something that will threaten the interviewer’s position or make the interviewer feel that you won’t stay with the company for long.
Sample Answer: In five years, I see myself as a valuable and contributing member of the team, having developed my skills and expertise in the accounting field. I plan to take on more responsibility within the company and to have played a significant role in the growth and success of the organization.
Entri Elevate – Business Accounting & Finance Certification Programme covers every major section from the fundamentals to practical experiments. This programme will provide applicable exercises and real-life examples in financial accounting to strengthen the concepts.
The course is offered entirely online, including video lectures, interactive exercises, and downloadable materials. Students can access the course content from anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection.
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