Financial process outsourcing has been on the horizon of businesses for over a decade now. But there are a few trends that are making this process all the more strategic. It is not only about cutting costs, but having the right partner who could improve the processes, change culture, bring in the new talent and technology and make finance more predictive and proactive.
When it comes to Financial Process Outsourcing, the following trends are changing the landscape of the industry
Smaller and niche clients
Bigger players with a headcount of hundreds of thousands started taking advantage of outsourcing around a decade back. They are increasing it in terms of scale and complexity, however, the major volume is now going to come from smaller players as small as 1 or 2 men companies. Niche processes that are difficult to deliver on a turnkey basis also show promise.
Technology impacts all industries all the time. Financial process outsourcing is no exception. It has now moved from process outsourcing to process reengineering to automate steps and bring down the costs further and improve the operational efficiencies
Outcome-based offerings are still to take off but are on the horizon. It makes the vendor, your business partner where they are accountable for business results and not only delivering on the processes. Metrics related to a reduction in sales outstanding, operations costs, cycle time reductions, liquidity improvements, forecast accuracy are a few related to advisable business outcomes
Outsourcing started as a low-cost low-value add jobs outsourcing. It still is to some extent. However meatier and strategic jobs are now being outsourced. Processes like budgeting, fundraising, investor communications, etc. are also being outsourced apart from the run of the mill accounting jobs
Advantages of Financial Process Outsourcing
There are multiple reasons why outsourcing the financial processes is the best way of doing it. The reasons not only involve cost savings but a host of others that raise the operational standards of the client, whatever business they are in.
These advantages are:
Of course, cost considerations here are tangible and very obvious. One dollar saved is a dollar earned. That is a saving that starts showing in the P&L as soon as you decide to outsource. Depending on your location and the process that you wish to outsource a savings of 50-80% is very normal and can be expected.
Apart from the absolute cost savings, there is a further scope of savings due to fractional resources. Fractional resources mean that you are not hiring anyone permanently but are tapping into the skill and experience of the resources only as and when required.
CFO outsourcing or substantial outsourcing of strategic tasks is an emerging trend. This is all the more important for start-ups or funds that are small and can’t afford a full-time CFO.
Focus on core tasks
Outsourcing frees up the management and workforce bandwidth to focus on more strategic aspects of business and operations
As the vendor is experienced and has worked on outsourcing similar processes from other clients as well, it’s in a better position to recommend and implement a technology that might reduce the effort or improve the turnaround time for a process. It is done by automating several tasks of the process using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
Operational efficiency improvements
Outsourcing to an expert improves the operational efficiency of a process by multiple notches. Something like an increase in efficiency due to touchless processing, reductions in operations cost, and reduction in Day Sales Outstanding (DSOs) are very typical operational outcomes of outsourcing
Improved plan compliance and making finance more predictive
With tools like dynamic real-time scenario planning, dashboards, visualization tools, data science and analytics, and on-demand reporting, it’s possible to make the finance function more predictive
Financial Process Outsourcing: What could be outsourced?
Financial processes that are low value add and not strategic could of course be outsourced. Now added onto transactional outsourcing is the strategic outsourcing elements that require specialist interventions. The activities that could be successfully outsourced are:
Bookkeeping and back-office support
The activities that are time tested to produce cost benefits and improve the quality of operations are account reconciliations, deferred revenues, customer billing and payments, expense processing, general ledger, financial and tax reporting, currency consolidation, payroll services, and vendor invoicing.
The services like audit reports, auditor facilitation, compliances, MIS, dashboards, etc form the backbone of outsourcing here
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)
This is the bulk of the planning and analysis aspects of the Finance function. This includes acquisition integration support, board reporting, financial data analysis, ratio analysis, comparative analysis with competition, financial research, along with planning, budgeting, and forecasting
This aspect requires a very specialist intervention. Here the offerings include pitch deck content and design support, investor reach-out, modeling and valuation, and investment bank’s selection
Mortgage process outsourcing
This is a specialist process of a lender whose critical elements could be successfully outsourced. These elements are marketing, loan origination data entry and analysis, underwriting documentation, background investigation, property assessment, accounting, financial checking, documentation checking, mortgage underwriting, and every other micro sub-steps required for the evaluation, underwriting, and approval of loans.
Magistral’s tried and tested process for outsourcing
Magistral has helped scores of clients in the financial industry and elsewhere in outsourcing operations. Magistral follows a customized and low-risk process for a smooth transition. The process puts business continuity and risk minimization at the center. Here are the major steps in offshoring that is proprietary and unique to Magistral:
There is a call with all the client stakeholders to understand their challenges and expectations from offshoring a process. Once the business imperative of offshoring is understood, a proposal for services is prepared. The proposal carries in detail the commercials, methodologies, KRAs and KPIs, project plans, and other details required for client management to take a call. Once the proposal is signed off the action begins.
Before taking any project for delivery Magistral invests a great deal of time and expertise in preparing Standard Operating Procedure documents. For preparing SOP a trained analyst gets in touch with the client SPOC (Single Point of Contact) and by his skills in business analysis brings all the knowledge of people onto a process document. We call this “bringing what is between the ears onto the paper”. Every fine detail is captured. A Magistral SOP document would carry lots of process diagrams, tips for analysts, swim-lanes, along with audio and video recording of meetings and training. The whole of this process is done without any cost to the client. Clients first-hand see the expertise that Magistral brings to the table without any investment on their part. Once the SOP document is ready, the signoff about its accuracy is taken from the relevant personnel in management. Till this point client does not spend even a single penny and we are fine about it.
Once the detailed SOP is ready, business reengineering opportunities make themselves evident. There are processes where either cost could be reduced or turnaround time could be improved by Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Machine Learning. The same is shared and validated with the client.
Our proposals are always signed based on the projects or milestones that we deliver. It is never based on the number of people (FTEs) that we employ to deliver services. Normally vendors will charge for FTEs and then they will sit and undergo process training at the client’s expense. With Magistral, you only pay when we deliver the project or processes that meet your quality standards. We start with low volumes. Trainers get trained in the process. Coordination with the client is very close and done almost daily to fill any gaps in delivery and expectations. For bigger projects, an onsite analyst sits with the client for weeks and is responsible for business analysis and knowledge transfer.
Many times, there are no Service Level Agreements decided for internal teams. We make sure we are accountable for everything we deliver and decide the SLAs of every process. These SLAs can be in terms of improvement in quality, turnaround time, analyst’s availability, prompt acknowledgment of requests, etc. With Magistral, if you have internal SLAs, we promise to beat that further with at least 20% improvements.
With SLA compliances meeting standards, we increase the scope and volume of work offshored.
The phased approach ensures the client is never too invested to back off. The process is also designed to give enough confidence to the clients to trust the expertise of Magistral.
Magistral Consulting has helped multiple funds and companies in outsourcing operations activities. It has service offerings for Private Equity, Venture Capital, Family Offices, Investment Banks, Asset Managers, Hedge Funds, Financial Consultants, Real Estate, REITs, RE funds, Corporates and Portfolio companies. Its functional expertise is around Deal origination, Deal Execution, Due Diligence, Financial Modeling, Portfolio Management and Equity Research
For setting up an appointment with a Magistral representative visit www.magistralconsulting.com/contact
About the Author
The Author, Prabhash Choudhary is the CEO of Magistral Consulting and can be reached at Prabhash.firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries or business inquiries.