CA Sundeep Wagh always wanted to start his own venture and never desired to be employed. His parents forced him to become a CA. Today he enjoys practicing the profession as a proprietor. He feels its gives him the respect it commands and the leadership to deal with assignments, and most of all, the satisfaction expressed by clients gives him utmost pleasure. He has been speaker at CAP Finance workshops and shares his story with us.
By profession I am an …astute professional always doing my best to adhere to the ethics, morals, discipline and perfection that the stature of this profession commands.
The philosophy with which I set up Wagh & Associates is…I always dreamed of making this firm unique. Moto is to be a ‘Service Partner of Choice’ for my clients. By using technology in every sphere of work, employing different work methods to delivering best results. I have always worked as a leader and not a follower.
I manage to keep accounts of…the environment. I adopted paper less operations (reduced use of paper to the minimum) thereby reducing space required to store documents resulting in clutter less office. I’ve also introduced computerization, data security and backup systems and ensured data is available On the Go wherever I am and whenever I desire it. Print only if required.
Before I set up the company I was…looking forward to set up my own car mechanic workshop, something I enjoy the most even today. I also find happiness in doing jobs carried out by electricians, carpenters and plumbers. This pleasure is quite different and though laughed upon by some people, it gives me tremendous satisfaction.
When I look back at my career I feel…proud for having worked my way from scratch to great heights. I have reached here with all my might, dedication, planning, but yes due to the unstinted support from my family. I have also given freedom to my staff for execution to decide their way to achieve results. I lay down the parameters by discussions and mutual acceptance with my staff.
One client that has been special to me... I can never forget my first client who paid me Rs. 600/- to write a single year’s books of accounts way back in 1986. I am proud to have this client even today. My greatest achievement I consider is none of my client has ever severed relations.
My involvement with the social sector began...largely, post my qualification in 1992 when the IT Act was amended and Sec 10(23) as it was back then underwent a change. This resulted in certain charitable institutions to seek fresh approvals for being eligible for an exemption under this new modified section. I learnt the philosophy and interpretation of income tax law by reading commentary in the book The Law and Practice of Income Tax by Nani Palkhivala and never missed his lectures on the subject. This study of charity related laws made me very well conversant, especially in the spirit behind the concept of charity and not just for the sake of words. My interactions with then IRS officers who debated very intellectually put forward challenges and motivated me and gave me enthusiasm to take this as a major area of practice.
One learning with social organisations/roles has been...such organisations are governed and controlled by dedicated social workers and play a giant role in the upliftment of the downtrodden. Over the years the concept and philosophy has undergone a sea of change. Such organisations lack the support of professionals who can take them forward cautiously but confidently by ensuring compliances and helping them grow by good financial management.
Funding for any social sector organisation is...a basic requirement, otherwise they would collapse and not be able to fulfill their goals. But they lack the skills, know how and talent to prepare and project their work in financial terms, to attract monies towards their projects since the people at the helm lack commercial knowledge. In today’s times, this could even lead to organisations loosing their charitable status.
3 common mistakes that most NGOs make within finance are… Give no importance to Chart of Accounts or laying down of internal processes and controls, do not invest their monies prudently, and lack adequate legal sense.
The relationship between and NGO and their CA should be …like family. It is a principle of mutuality where each one works very closely with the other, so much so, as if they are one. I have practiced this with an organisation and experienced it grow from a gross receipt of Rs. 2.50 Lakhs in 1995 to about Rs. 20 crores of gross receipts besides a corpus of about Rs. 15 crores.
The social sector in India today has…to many players suddenly jumping in like ants being attracted to sugar. The introduction of CSR has created a class of professionals. But many of them lack the true skills, knowledge and resources and thereby the social organisations find themselves at a receiving end of trouble inspite of having spent considerable sums in fees.
If I could change one thing about the social sector…social workers should abide by the social objective they are in pursuit of and not cross the laxman rekha to make business. This could lead to less intervention from various government authorities and bring in a cordial atmosphere of trust and faith with the beneficiaries.
My advice to non-profit founders/CEOs...do not try to use this sector as a money generating “business” disguised as a non-profit. Under the pretext of elevation of the poor, encouragement to the artisans, etc. flourishing businesses are run for self gain, while the actual artisans or the poor hardly earn. Hire professionals of good standing to ensure compliances and be focussed on your objectives.
The balance sheet of life should be… balanced between work and personal life only then the Owners Funds = Pleasure of living. Life should be full of happiness and enjoyment which will fulfill the purpose of being on this planet earth.
One of life’s most important learning has been...honesty, diligent work ethic, proactive professional advise and service, which still commands good value in these changing times. Finally these qualities are valued and I would like to serve only those who value such qualities. Thus it is not the quantity of clients, but the quality of clients that’s important.
The one aspect in my life I am eternally grateful for…to have been created with qualities, such as honesty, sincerity, yearning to be perfect, timeliness and most of all committed. I have experienced situations where I have to refuse work as I cannot give every assignment my personal touch.
The one person who has inspired me... my mentor who made me conscious of my capabilities which gave me tremendous confidence, whom I tried to imitate by always being updated, ahead of time and being organized.
My greatest strength is... ability to spend hours dedicated to difficult task at hand. I have a long patience and my greatest weakness is... approaching people or speaking of my own achievements. I am too to the point and cannot beat round the bush. Being an introvert, it takes me long to become talkative. I would rather wait for people to appreciate my work than to project my contribution to their success.
In my free time... I listen to music or would like to go for a long drive.
The best way I deal with a difficult situation is...sit back quietly all by myself and analyze the difficult situation, put down on paper the various difficulties / hurdles and again sit back and plan a course of action, a strategy. This has always helped me come out of all difficult situations. I strongly believe in planning and having a strategy, as this alone makes execution very simple with assured results.
An incident that changed my thinking...Corruption!!! Can’t be a part of it, couldn’t ever convince myself to practice it. Completely wound up roaring active tax practice and moved to accounts and business processes.
A book I would recommend everyone should read is...Books of Accounts, Ha ha!! I am not a person who likes to read. I wouldn’t mind someone reading and telling me. But reading, rarely. My family wonders how I qualified as a CA with allergy to books. Yes, what is essential, I read, nothing more nothing less. In today’s times, it is browsing that helps, which is more acceptable.
A song I identify with my life is... “Over and Over” by Madonna