The truth about overseas finance outsourcing – eight myths debunked

Article by Chris Halward, SKS Business Services

‘Overseas outsourcing’ remains a loaded term despite decades of British businesses using overseas firms to reduce costs and streamline operations. 

We can trace the stigma to the early 2000s when large companies began to transfer their customer services to overseas call centres. At the time, many did not adequately address language barriers or train their workers beyond following a script. 

Despite outsourcing becoming exponentially more sophisticated in the last 20 years, the reputation still sticks. Having spent over fourteen years successfully outsourcing finance roles for UK companies, we wanted to dispel some myths.

Busted – eight myths about overseas finance outsourcing…

Myth 1 – The quality of work will be low

Dare we say it: the quality of work when using overseas outsourcing will likely be even better than in the UK. Why? Outsourcing is a way to transfer work from one in-house generalist to a team of specialists, who have the time and training to keep abreast of developments in tax law and technology trends. 

Myth 2 – Work will take longer

Again, overseas outsourcing companies have the resource to assign work to a team rather than one person. For the client, this provides continuity of work. In contrast to an in-house team, there is no threat of downtime due to illness, annual leave and staff vacancies.

Myth 3 – The work won't meet UK standards

Good outsourcing companies overcome this by ensuring overseas staff are trained to UK standards and that work is signed off by a senior accountant who holds a UK or UK-equivalent accreditation. All SKS work, for example, is overseen by accountants accredited by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales) and ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). All staff in all countries sign the ICAEW code of conduct.

Myth 4 – My data and IP will be compromised

A reputable outsourcing company will have checks and balances to protect a client’s data and intellectual property. These should include practices on data storage, such as advanced encryption, hosting servers in the UK and GDPR compliance.

Myth 5 – It's too difficult to work across different time zones

There is a worry that an overseas team will not be available within UK business hours. How do you get urgent answers if everyone has shut up shop?

Cloud computing has made this less of a problem than 20 years ago. Good outsourcing firms will have collaboration software that gives all parties real-time access to their data and progress.

More importantly, overseas outsourcing companies will provide clients with a UK-based contact to answer queries within UK working hours.

Myth 6 – Language and cultural differences will make communication difficult

Successful outsourcing firms work hard to mitigate the occasional communication issues that arise from working with an overseas team. Practices include assigning a UK-based account manager to every client and using cloud technology that makes it easy for clients to track project progress online. They also invest in staff development and provide opportunities for their overseas teams to visit and train within the UK.

Myth 7 – Outsourcing exploits overseas workers

With ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues climbing the agenda, companies are right to examine the treatment of workers at every stage of their supply chain.

Reputable overseas outsourcing partners should be able to prove that they provide fair and equitable employment for their overseas teams. This should include direct employment, salaries in line with or above marketplace rates, equal opportunities hiring and regular staff training.

Myth 8 – You will lose the benefits of 'on the ground' staff

A valid concern for small businesses is that if they outsource roles, there will be fewer people in the office to help with day-to-day tasks, such as opening up or answering phones.

A good outsourcing partner recognises this value and will offset the cost (or directly employ) a junior member of ‘on the ground’ staff to help with those quickfire jobs. This still works out more cost-efficient for the client.

Want to know more?

You can find out more about Finance Function Outsourcing, please visit our dedicated page here, give us a call on 020 7096 0662 or complete the form below and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.