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Article Details
A Chartered Accountant or a Consultant: a debate?
It is always a debate whether to hire a Chartered Accountant or a consultant for renders service to a client. Mostly, the client is not ready to pay to the Chartered Accountant sighting the reason that a consultant is offering the same services with half the fees of a Chartered Accountant.
Sometimes, clients argues that a Chartered Accountant is not rendering him/her/it services in the professional manner despite they are ready to pay the fees which they pay to a consultant. Some client feels that it is better to have a consultant then a Chartered Accountant because a consultant has very good contacts with the different authorities and they can practically manage the work of the client better than a Chartered Accountant.
It is general phenomena especially in small, medium and to some extent in large enterprises that the fee paid to a Chartered Accountant is hefty and there is no need to pay further or review the fee. The main reason is that a consultant is rendering the same service with lesser fees. This false notion is also prevailing in some Corporate.  The fact is that a Chartered Accountant in India is the only professional who is paid peanuts despite being backbone of society.
The client forgets that there is a difference between a Chartered Accountant and a Consultant in many ways. A Chartered Accountant deserves to be paid more than a Consultant for the services rendered by him/her.
A Chartered Accountant
To become a Chartered Accountant really need dedication, focus, consistency, hard work, discipline. To become Chartered Accountant lot of hard work is put in by an individual.
Apart from study, an individual go through the rigorous practical training known as “Articleship”.
This Articleship goes simultaneously alongwith the study. The purpose of Articleship is to train and groom the future Chartered Accountant to be a professional in live business environment under the supervision and guidance of a Chartered Accountant. Just like a new recruit soldier undergo training under the supervision of already trained soldiers and officers of Armed Force before being inducted in the armed forces.
After becoming a Chartered Accountant by passing tough examination and successfully completing Articleship, the real challenge begins for a Chartered Accountant.
A Chartered Accountant by using his/her knowledge gained during the training assist a client in achieving business goals.
Generally, any Chartered Accountant always first understand the business of the client, understand the business needs of a client and then advice the client best possible way, the need of the client can be fulfilled or achieved like a Doctor who before giving any medicine first understand the disease, do thorough examination of the client and finally prescribed the medication to recover the patient from the disease.      
While giving the advice, a Chartered Accountant takes into consideration important areas of accounting and tax compliances. Remember that a Chartered Accountant is not making decision on behalf of the client but assist the client in making a decision. A Chartered Accountant will never mislead a client.
In today’s time, a client has to make many important business decisions. Theses decision has also bearing on various compliances or situation which is complex, conflicting and interfering with each other. Such situation leads to rise of business risk. Hence, a good advice from a knowledgeable professional like a Chartered Accountant save significant amount of time, stress and money.
A Chartered Accountant has thorough knowledge of law and various judicial pronouncements. A Chartered Accountant commands respect at representation before any authority in India on behalf of the client. Hence, a Chartered Accountant submits and represents the client before various authorities in professional manner and concludes the proceedings to legal conclusion.
A Chartered Accountant always guide the client pre-actively and assist the client in informed decision making after taking into consideration the inherent business risk. A Chartered Accountant may not be physically presence at the clients’ place but his advices through use of modern technology is of immense help and mitigate the need of physical presence.  
A Chartered Accountant throughout his/her life spent time to learn, re-learn and unlearn.
A Consultant     
A consultant on the other hand does not have professional qualification. He has little or limited academic qualification.
No training is imparted to a consultant under expert supervision and guidance. As a result they have no knowledge of legal framework, wide vision and ability to grasp the business of a client, its business needs and reason for real problem situation faced by the client.
It is saying that half knowledge is always dangerous. In our ancient holy book of Mahabharat, Abhimanyu has to give up his life by entering into chakravyuh due to half knowledge.
When one is suffering from any disease, goes to a qualified Doctor rather than going to a compounder who is having little knowledge of medicine for treatment. If one does not do so may endanger his/her life i.e. takes a risk.
A consultant does not enjoy any legal right to represent before any authority. A consultant does not enjoy any legal identification. Due to lack of knowledge, skill unable to conclude the proceedings to a legal conclusion and finally the client is heavily penalized.
Besides this, a Consultant does not spend time in understanding laws, changes in economic situation under which the business of client operates miserably fails in performing and discharging his professional duty and finally client will have to suffer heavily legally as well as financially because of uninformed decision making.
The consultant, due to limited knowledge will not guide, advice or assist the client in decision making the way a Chartered Accountant does. Sometimes, a consultant misleads the client to wrap up his wrong doing or misdeeds. A consultant will not pre-actively assist or identify the potential risk or compliance for which the client must prepare himself/herself/itself in order to prosper.
A consultant may physically remain presence at the clients’ place but if he/she is unable to deliver the ultimate result needed by the client, physical presence has no relevance.
A consultant practically spare no time for updating his/her knowledge.
A Chartered Accountant thus justify in charging appropriate fees against the fees charged by a consultants.
Money and physical presence should not be only criteria while appointing a Chartered Accountant or a Consultant. The client has to take into consideration the benefits which will be derived from a Chartered Accountant then a consultant. E.g. if one has to hire a body guard and has a choice of hiring a well trained police or armed force personnel against an ordinary ill or less trained body builder. The choice would obviously go for trained police or armed force personnel by paying extra money for safety of life. Similarly, it is better to hire services of a professional Chartered Accountant at a justified price rather than hiring a non-professional consultant at a chep price and suffer heavily.  “Jaago Grahak Jaago”