A minute for your Feedback please

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How will GST disrupt the CA/accounting, tax and audit profession

In India, the Chartered Accountancy(CA) professional is synonymous with accounting, audit and tax-this does not detract from other professionals of course like CS, CMA, LLBs and tax practitioners. The advent of India's largest indirect tax reform viz GST has the scope to transform the financial professionals industry tremendously. In the short term, there is a LOT of work due to impact analysis, transition, old cases closure etc for which professionals are minting money. But in the medium/long term, the picture is much less clear. Picture the scenario in 2years, where B2B invoices are uploaded online and matched(with government receiving its tax on time) for seamless credit. The income tax audit of these entities can be substantially triangulated with GSTIN data to reconcile revenue and COGS. Would audit become redundant? There are arguments for and against this:
First the positive arguments for simplification( and hence CA revenue declining)

  1. Excise, Service Tax, VAT audits all replaced by a single GST audit. 
  2. Invoice level matching
  3. Government audit interest declining once it receives its tax payment on time
  4. Statutory audit simplified from indirect tax/compliance
  5. Lesser possibility of people evading direct tax while reporting higher GST revenues
Arguments for complexity (and hence bright future for CAs)
  1. Multiple GST rates-hence classification confusions
  2. Residual 18% rate vs lowest 5% slab, chances for government to raise aggressive tax positions
  3. ~40% GDP still out of GST tax net-hence need to check omissions
  4. Reverse Charge for purchases from unregistered vendors-substantial complexity
  5. Non GST expenses like salaries, utilities, taxes-hence cannot prepare full P&L
  6. Multiple GST registrations for Pan India entity, need for record keeping/reconciliations
  7. B2C Invoices uploaded in summary NOT at invoice level-so need for audit here
There will of course be 'Non professional' work such as mismatch reconciliations, vendor review etc but this will be outsourced I suppose. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How Mutual fund for a day is helping drive Mission 10cr folios

In the last 10 years, AUM of Indian MFs has grown 6x from Rs 2.6Tn to Rs 19.2Tn[1]. However, the number of folios has remained nearly flat in this period, from 48M to 56M, covering hardly 4%-5% of Indians. Why don't more people invest in equities? The answer is often time, expertise, discipline and budgeting.  Personal finance is an area where we tend to overrate our expertise instead of leaving it to professionals. Mutual funds allow the common man to invest on the same terms as HNIs or corporates, via pooled funds(or mutual funds). What is a mutual fund? It is simply a pooled fund following a set strategy, with entry/exit in discrete units. Unlike alternate asset classes, MFs offer liquidity, transparent valuations and fees, and stringent regulation, that too without high AUM limits. Despite these advantages why do people not invest in mutual funds? Many of them are presently investing in alternate asset classes such as ‘life insurance’, property, gold and land. Despite tax advantage to mutual fund investment under 80C, the tax benefit/tax evasion ease of other asset classes has historically depressed folio growth. But with demonetization, ULIP regulation and digitization making it easy to open eKYC accounts, mutual funds can now compete on a level playing field.  In the last 1 year, CRISIL top ranked mutual funds[2] had yielded 19%-28% for large caps, 35%-43% for midcaps, and around 30%-40% for diversified funds. These numbers are attractive enough to build the investment case, even over long term fundshave given a sustained CAGR of 25% over 20years. Imagine earning such returns while continuing to earn from your regular profession. Often, the sustained income from mutual funds allows financial independence at an early age (debt free home etc). 
But you may ask-how can one keep investing for decades despite personal financial commitments? The answer is simple-pay yourself first. Set aside a fixed amount each month, to invest in mutual funds. Even better, avoid market timing by automating SIPs and reduce the chances of slippage. Maybe that day can be in the first week-just after paying monthly commitments, but before impulse purchases lure you with their siren calls. That is why for those of us not yet invested in MFs, or those not using SIP mode, 7thof each month(or ‘Mutual Fund Day’)(MFD) is an opportunity to begin for those who either haven’t started investing in mutual funds or aren’t using the SIP mode. Take the chance to meet your financial advisor or register online  to start a SIP. For those fortunate souls already doing this, consider devoting some time each month or during the next time you discuss with friends, to discuss wealth building measures with them. This 'help a friend' eventually helps them long term and will truly be ‘Fund for a friend’(FFAF) cause aka ‘Each one teach one’. The above 2 behaviour triggers has been piloted by Reliance Mutual fund, which has a financial calculator in the prosperity hub URL, as well as a series of posts on the concept of MFD. Those interested can have a look below.
The MFD concept involves a year long sustained push through coverage on Network 18 channels, popular radio outlets, and moneycontrol. This initiative has begun in Mar-17, and as yet there is no publicly available data on how this specific initiative has worked in terms of new folios, new SIPs or AUM increase[. However, habit formation takes time and probably 6-8 months down the line would be a good time to review. As those who are long term investors in markets, entry of new money only improves the market valuations, and also the overall ecosystem. So this is a positive sign which we all should encourage

[1] https://www.amfiindia.com/indian-mutual
[2] http://www.moneycontrol.com/mutual-funds/top-rated-funds