Role: business analyst
Location: United Kindgom
Highlights: passport to a global career
I was born and brought up in Darjeeling in Northeast India where I also completed my O-levels before moving to New Delhi to complete my A-levels and a BSc in botany. I found botany very slow with a great deal of research and I couldn’t see my future in this field. I look back now and see that what I really wanted to do was finance.
In 1995 I left India for the seaside town of Brighton in the UK and to study for my second degree, which was in business studies. I was 22 and keen to lay a strong foundation in business, not just pure accounting. It was during my placement year that I became inspired to study CIMA.
Many of my colleagues were studying CIMA or were already CIMA qualified and what they were doing really interested me. Rather than solid number-crunching they were dealing with managers and other areas of the business. I’m still in touch with some of them today.
When I graduated I was already certain that I wanted to do CIMA. I did some temporary work with Lloyds in Bristol and then joined AXA for nine months on a funds track looking after a budget of £42 million. This is when my transformation into a management accountant began.
I was undertaking analysis and forecasting when I sat my first CIMA exam, which was the hardest part by far. After my nine month contract at AXA came to a end, I was really enjoying management accounting but I felt I needed some experience in financial accounting too. So I then spent some time with MX Financial Solutions working directly alongside the finance director. The CIMA exam schedule continued apace.
When I came to sit my Strategic level exams, I was working at an asset management company in the City. I had to work hard to impress and attempted sitting all three exams and the case study (TOPCIMA) all at once. In May 2003 I had successfully completed all my CIMA exams.
At HSBC I work in the HSBC Bank Plc (HBEU) Finance Department. In the past I have worked within business areas of different banks e.g. Wealth Management, International Banking as a finance analyst and finance manager etc., earning about the business in detail. Currently my role is less number crunching and more analytical. I don’t have to prepare the numbers but rather look at the bigger picture and analyse figures submitted by other finance teams.
Our team is responsible for producing the month board pack which is high profile, focusing on all areas of the bank e.g. personal, insurance, commercial, corporate, private and international banking, ensuring that the figures, commentaries and analysis are timely and accurate.
As opposed to other more traditional forms of accounting, the CIMA qualification is very forward looking - on using historical data to inform future business decisions. I think that’s very important for HSBC. In order to remain competitive, you need finance teams who are not just number crunchers, but who have more business knowledge and a focus on strategy. It’s my job to help bring the figures to life.
Although I’ve lived in the UK for over 11 years, I still consider myself part of the output of India’s growing and successful economy. CIMA is the perfect way to blend Western and Indian cultural and study styles. There has been a tendency for Indian culture to be uncritical of deeply held views and practices, whereas CIMA encourages constant questioning of the status quo.
It’s the job of the company directors to challenge the figures and ideas. CIMA’s exams are very tactical and applied which means your developing knowledge and skills are relevant all the way through your studies. Many multinationals are now finding their homes in India and they are looking for CIMA accountants to fill roles that will provide so many opportunities for developing skills and economies all over the world.
If you’re CIMA, you are all about strategy, business understanding and analysis, and interpretation of numbers. I would like to think that all professional accountancy bodies offer the facts about why something is occurring – but it’s only really CIMA that offers the big picture without ignoring the detail.
I try and go back to India every year to visit my parents and family in Darjeeling. I have cousins to visit in Delhi and Calcutta too so it can be an exhausting but worthwhile trip. I’m always glad now that I’ve got two homes and that my CIMA letters give me that passport to travel too.