What is attracting young Chartered Accountants to the Real Estate Regulatory Act, 2016?

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) practice at the NCLT is a very highly lucrative and evolving practice (Representational Image)

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) practice at the NCLT is a very highly lucrative and evolving practice (Representational Image)

Aditya Zantye, 32, a Chartered Accountant (CA) by profession, says he sees a lot of potential in the Real Estate Regulatory (RERA) Act, 2016, a relatively new law in the Indian legal space. Zantye, practicing since 2015, says developers who wish to register their real estate projects under this law, need to do extensive compliance. For young CAs compliance is a lucrative practice. As a result, a number of young CAs are moving to take up RERA practice.

Zantye, who is also the Secretary, RERA Practitioners’ Welfare Association, said the body which has nearly 100 members, including lawyers and CAs, is dominated by CAs — at a little more than 50 percent.

Zantye told Moneycontrol, “The CAs are currently majorly in the compliance side, and arguments are done by lawyers or advocates. But even that is changing, and CAs like me are entering the arguments space. The majority of clients of CAs are developers. And aggrieved home buyers go to lawyers to fight their cases. But considering we are in the compliance space for developers, we are already in the picture and are slowly getting into arguments. However, even if we keep aside the arguments, compliance is a lucrative practice.”

How can a CA practice in RERA?

As per Section 56 of the RERA Act, 2016, the applicant or appellant may either appear in person or authorise one or more CAs, Company Secretaries, Cost Accountants, legal practitioners or any of its officers to present the appellant’s case before the Regulatory Authority, Appellate Tribunal or adjudicating officer. Similarly, a CA can practice in the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), along with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

RERA is lucrative

Thirty-year-old Krunal Majethia, another CA practicing for five years now, says RERA compliance is lucrative and so is handling clients from the real estate sector.

Majethia says, “I have been practicing with my partner since 2017 on RERA compliance and a lot of things have changed in these five years. Every day there is something new, and as MahaRERA is getting stricter day by day on compliance, there is a lot of work here for CAs. Also, a CA will do the work for a developer at a much lesser cost than would an advocate.”

Majethia added, “For now, we are on the compliance end as none of our clients have had to be involved in arguments in front of the RERA authority or tribunal. But we definitely see a lot of scope in arguments in the coming years. It is natural that the opportunity for arguments will increase as the onus on compliance increases. With some more experience in compliance, we plan to enter into arguments for our business expansion. We think by the time we would have completed 10 years in this profession, we would have earned substantial money to make it worth practicing in RERA.”

ICAI sees opportunity in RERA

It is just not the young minds choosing to practice the young law, but even the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) sees a lot of potential in practicing in the RERA space. As a result, it organised a conference on opportunities in practicing in RERA.

CA Murtuza Kachwala, Chairman of Western India Regional Council (WIRC) of ICAI, said, “We have been organising conferences to upskill, train and keep the CA members abreast of the latest happenings in all topics and aspects related to their profession. The RERA conference was organised on August 6, with the objective of creating awareness about the current issues and developments with respect to RERA and the opportunities it provides for professionals such as CAs and lawyers.”

According to Kachwala, the conference helped CAs upgrade their knowledge in matters pertaining to preparation and handling of RERA-related cases. He sees a great scope for CAs in the areas of quality certifications, case laws, and appellate tribunal.”

Practicing in NCLT or RERA? What is more lucrative?

Vikas Khiyani, a 28-year-old Insolvency Professional (IP) and CA by profession for the last three years, says practicing both in RERA and NCLT are equally lucrative. He says, “In RERA it is clear that the issue of clients belongs to the real estate sector, but in NCLT it is very different and very vast. As regards regular income, RERA carries that scope because there is regular compliance involved in RERA. In NCLT, the scenario is different considering there are arguments.”

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) practice at the NCLT is a very highly lucrative and evolving practice. Young professionals can now be appointed as interim resolution professional / resolution professional if they have completed a two-year graduate insolvency program from the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs and registered with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) as an IP. In this case, work becomes more difficult considering there are various stakeholders involved like promoters, lenders, suppliers, etc.

Khiyani added, “I am going to start my independent practice as an IP from next month. I have already started my CA practice. I plan to practice both at RERA and NCLT considering the background of RERA will help in real estate matters of NCLT. However, for now, I will be only looking at the compliance part of RERA, and will get into arguments gradually. But there is immense scope for young CAs considering RERA is a very young law, and it will shape my career as it shapes itself in the coming years.”

Traditional practice or shift to RERA?

While RERA is a very young law with states starting its implementation in 2017, several CAs are weighing whether to give up their traditional practice of handling and auditing the accounts of companies, and move into RERA practice, or do both.

26-year-old Aalok Shah, who became a CA at the age of 21, says, “I am doing traditional practice and handling clients from photographers, advertisement agencies, photo and video editors, etc. I am enjoying this traditional practice. But practice in RERA also means good money and expanding the network to get more business. I have not made up my mind to fully get into RERA, but somewhere I have plans to balance out between traditional practice and RERA. This is because someone has to do it as those CAs who are very established in the traditional space of auditing might not be keen on RERA, and hence, youngsters need to occupy that space.”

Shah sees traditional auditing and client servicing changing and companies opting for internal CAs. “Hence, there is a need for back-up. RERA is like bread butter and the compliance work involved in it gives a sense of security to the CA, but it takes that much time and effort too. Comparatively, I feel practicing in NCLT is more lucrative and it brings in significant money for all the hard work.”

Established developers still prefer advocates

Though there is a growing trend of developers picking up CAs to take up arguments on their behalf, advocates say that many established developers still prefer advocates for this job.

Advocate Satish Dedhia, who actively practices in MahaRERA, said, “The role of a CA when it comes to RERA is significant, as developers require certification from a CA at several stages. Due to this, developers sometimes end up hiring a CA for arguments thinking he would be able to understand the case better considering the CA has also done the compliance work. But still several established developers prefer advocates for arguments, as CAs may not be able to handle certain technical and legal issues where logical arguments are involved.”

Dedhia adds, “In arguments there are certain factors like every stand that we take has to consider the future legal recourse the opposite party can take in case the order or judgment is challenged in the high court. However, I agree that CAs are good at networking and upgrading their knowledge as and when required. I would conclude saying the importance of both is equal in a way,”