Experts divided over impact of
process outsourcing

Business process outsourcing (BPO), in particular the
outsourcing of the finance function, is growing worldwide and the
UK profession has conflicting views over the impact it will have on
chartered accountants.

At the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ (CIMA)
annual conference in London recently, the institute’s director of
development for Asia-Pacific, Martin Fahy, suggested BPO could lead
to less work in the UK for the traditional chartered accountant and
more for management accountants. Yet none of the UK institutes that
spoke with TA for the UK survey (see “Proffessional bodies go
global”) thought BPO would have a negative impact on their

Fahy said much of the outsourced finance function is compliance and
transaction work, which will free up more opportunities for
business partnering. He suggested that in terms of management
accounting, analysis will be at shared service centres or BPO
providers, such as those found in developing countries including
India. However, management accounting that requires a high level of
business knowledge will stay inside the business.

‘Huge opportunities’

CIMA director of brand Ray Perry told TA that the growing
prevalence of BPO creates “huge opportunities for CIMA both here
and internationally”. “Increasingly, the shared service centres are
up-skilling. They’re looking for people with more general
management skills to add value to their customers,” Perry

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
president Richard Dyson suggested the BPO trend won’t affect ICAEW
members as BPO is more about processes. He said: “Our members are
involved more at the top end – they’re more in a management role
interpreting the information.”

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Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy chief
executive Steve Freer said outsourcing has been a significant
option for public sector bodies for the past ten years and it had
not led to fewer accountants in the sector.