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November 14, 2007

Experts divided over impact of process outsourcing

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 members.

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 said.

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.”

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.

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