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Rahul Sarna CPA

Rahul

Before moving to Canada in 2018, Rahul found out that having a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation would play a pivotal role in achieving a prosperous Canadian career.

Rahul considers himself very lucky. He arrived in Toronto in 2018, leaving behind a four-year career as a chartered accountant (CA) in India. Yet he managed to secure a job at one of the “big four” accounting firms only eleven months after landing in Canada and before receiving his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. 

Rahul worked hard for it. Being an organized person, he did some research before moving to Canada. He understood how important it was to receive a CPA designation – it was key to a successful career. 

Rahul also discovered that international accounting credentials are recognized in Canada, but they need to be assessed first. Fortunately, CPA Ontario has a membership recognition agreement with ICAI, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, and Rahul was a member.

“Before coming to Canada, I knew I needed a license. That’s important, and many people don’t know it,” says Rahul. He registered with CPA Ontario in 2017 while he was in India and submitted his transcripts, letter of good standing, practical experience and resume.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree, an Indian CA designation and a master’s degree, Rahul quit his job in Audit & Assurance at Deloitte and moved to Canada, looking for a better standard of living.

“I was pretty lucky. I arrived in February, and I started a job in April. It was a three-week contract in a very big firm during tax season. I got the job because I had experience in India with Canadian taxes. That was a good break,” adds Rahul.

By that time, CPA Ontario had reviewed his application and told him that he needed to complete two modules (Capstone 1 and 2) in preparation for the Common Final Exam (CFE). “Those two modules were definitely expensive,” indicates Rahul.

Rahul found out about Windmill Microlending through an arrival program for immigrants soon after he landed in Canada.

He contacted Windmill, and his loan was approved very quickly. With the funds, he paid the CPA Ontario fees and preparation classes for the CFE. “My experience working with the Windmill team was really good. I applied for the loan, then I had an interview, and the loan was disbursed,” says Rahul.

For a few months, it was difficult for him to find work. He took an accounting job in the industry, although it wasn’t exactly what he was looking for. “Eventually, I realized that’s something everyone needs to do. You need to get into the door. You need to work in any job you can get in the profession,” adds Rahul.

He wrote his exam in September 2018 and, without knowing the result, he interviewed at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He knew many people working in accounting firms didn’t have designations but were in the process of getting them. He felt he had a good chance because “accounting is one field in which your knowledge is more important than a license,” indicates Rahul.

But Rahul cautions that the designation is needed to grow in the field. “If you want to get a good job and grow as an accountant, you definitely need the designation. If a job requires a CPA, you will lose out on the competition even if you’re qualified or you’re better than the other applicants because they have the designation,” says Rahul.

According to Rahul, three factors played a significant role in receiving a job offer from PwC:  

  1. His previous work experience in Deloitte India.
  2. His Canadian work experience.
  3. The fact that he was in the process of getting his CPA.

After completing the CFE and meeting the experience requirement, Rahul became a member of CPA Ontario on April 2019. Today, Rahul has the same level job that he had in India, which makes him proud. “It’s a big achievement for any immigrant to reach that level in less than a year because it’s difficult to get the same recognition in terms of education and work experience in a different country.”


Every year, Windmill helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to achieve career success in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help.

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