Chartered Accountants are well known as a brand of unique and versatile professionals, who are sought after both locally and globally. However, Sri Lankan Chartered Accountants, who have been produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), are known and respected as well as have been in demand for their honesty, integrity and high work output among other notable skills.
CA Sri Lanka Member Shantha Fonseka, FCA, who is now retired and domiciled in Sydney, Australia, attributes the demand for Sri Lankan-qualified Chartered Accountants primarily to the rigorous training they had to undergo at audit firms for four years and the technical knowledge imparted by their study facilitators.
“We had to submit mandatory tutorials that were sourced from ‘Foulks Lynch’, a company in London. We had the advantage of past question papers known as ‘chartered telephones’ also from London which helped us prepare. Later, the tutorials were locally prepared by our Director of Studies A.T. Benedict. His directorship was followed by Piyaseeli Jayaratne, who continued the dedicated service for our benefit,” she said.
According to her, training was a value addition which helped them progress as well as go overseas. “We got jobs in Fiji and that’s how we left Sri Lanka in the early 70s. We were among the first set of accountants (seven of us) who went to Fiji,” she said.
Fonseka, a former Finance Manager at a pharmaceutical company in Australia, said that in the early 70s, Sri Lanka qualified chartered accountants were very much in demand in countries like Zambia, Fiji and other similar developing countries, due to the quality of training CA Sri Lanka members underwent. “We were respected for our high quality of ethics, work output and honesty and integrity, as well as the good command of the English language, as our language of study was English. We were like the ambassadors of the institute,” she said.
Following a work stint in Fiji, she along with her husband Rienzie Fonseka, who is also a Chartered Accountant, was transferred to the Australian Head Office of the company they worked for. “The only qualification we had was the Chartered Accounting qualification from Sri Lanka and we were recognized solely for our performance and abilities which were due to the CA qualification we obtained from Sri Lanka,” she said. However, Fonseka’s journey to be a recognized Chartered Accountant didn’t come easy and required a lot of hard work and commitment along with dedication.
“The four years of articled ship I underwent at Lawrie Muthukrishna and Company is what helped me in excelling in my profession. The Chartered Accounting qualification is much respected and the institute is a brand in itself and our senior principal Kandasamy was equally committed to ensure we excel in our work, as ultimately people rely on what we say,” she said.