Investment banking as an industry relies on the brightest of the minds in the financial world. So when the concept of “outsourcing” is discussed, it is frowned upon by some as being unreliable and low quality. Doing everything in-house is a matter of “Unique Selling Proposition” for the bank.
In this article, I will build a case for outsourcing against doing everything in-house.
If you are growing, doing everything in-house will bring down your pace of growth: For any growing organization whether it’s an Investment Bank or any other organization, growth is good news. But it also brings with it huge uncertainties in terms of cash flow. You secure that big client that you were chasing for months and you sign a contract. You hire and then realize that the client has shelved the project. Now new hires sit there in your cost bucket without any revenue against them. If you let them go, it is usually bad for the brand. Hiring bright associates becomes difficult once you are out again for hiring. Outsourcing here acts as a temporary patch. You get a project, you outsource it till the client stabilizes and then decide what to keep in-house and what to outsource. It brings down the cash flow risks dramatically. Outsourcing keeps pace with your project flow and you don’t wait for months for new associates to join you.
Quality concerns around outsourcing are unfounded: Another factor that is sighted against outsourcing is quality concerns. I encourage you to see the work that the Top 10 global investment banks are getting done in India. All of the top 10 banks have an India connection. Some have their biggest global delivery centers or captives based out of India while others have big contracts with Indian vendors, but there is no one who thinks the quality is bad and avoids India altogether. Do you think this scale would have been possible with sub-standard delivering quality? You need to think again!!
There are unmistakable advantages in terms of costs: The complete business case of outsourcing is built around saving costs, and it is very difficult to miss the details. Depending on your location in the US, Europe, the UK or Australia, outsourced analysts are cheaper in tune to 30% to 80% of the costs of onsite analysts. There are further savings in terms of lower supervision time, costs of databases, skill bandwidth of the whole outsourced team as compared to a few onsite analysts and the flexibility with which new resources could be added or removed
If you are small, you can’t do without outsourcing: It is understood that outsourcing will bring mighty savings on top of headcount in thousands. Though that is correct, there are immense benefits for small setups too. A small set up sometime may miss some of the critical skills that bigger banks have. Outsourcing plugs in that skill gap in smaller banks. Also with purse strings tightened for smaller banks, outsourcing sometimes is the only option for operational continuity without breaking the bank.
Not all Investment Banking jobs are strategic: There is absolutely nothing strategic about entering expense voucher details in excel or making the fund pdf editable, but these are the jobs that still need to be done and possibly at the lowest cost. Outsourcing is not only an alternative but the best one for these mundane tasks.
Selling “Outsourcing” to your clients: There is still a notion that Investment Banking clients will frown on outsourcing operations as it is perceived to be low quality. If a bank does everything in-house, it sends a signal that Bank has too little to do on its own. What advantage does it bring to do mundane jobs in-house? On the contrary, it’s perceived that the team is inefficient and has high maintenance costs. Who foots this bill? Your clients!! Say your management fees might come down by a few percentage points due to outsourcing and see the perception of outsourcing change.
Assignments move at double the pace: Outsourced team acts as an extended team to the onsite team. With time zone differences, it is like the combined team is moving at double the pace working in the day and the night as well. So an assignment that would have taken 30 days to complete may see itself being finished in 15 days’ time. Agility does have value in the marketplace.
No exit barriers from contracts: If you are not happy with the quality, timeliness, and responsiveness or have any other issues with your own business or the quality of services, the contracts have a swift exit clause. You can terminate the contract with a few days’ notice.
Competitive pressures regarding outsourcing: As suggested earlier in the article, the top 10 global banks are outsourcing work to India. It gives them an immense advantage in terms of costs and hence pricing their services to their clients. Someone who is doing everything in-house will be costlier without adding any additional value to the client. Competitive intensity regarding outsourcing is huge, and it may force everyone to outsource at some point. Early movers may rope in significant rewards though.
Hiring an individual Vs. Hiring a team: When you outsource, you don’t hire a single individual, you also hire the expertise of a team that is working across investment banks for years. This means an Investment Banking standard quality being delivered on day 1 as compared to months for an onsite hire.
Data Security and Privacy: Data security is a big concern for outsourcing. For this, it is suggested that outsourcing contracts should carry a penalty in case of a data breach. Usually, outsourcing players are organized on the basis of support teams for each client. There is little interaction between teams on assignment related issues. One analyst works with only one client at a time and hence there is safety in terms of sensitive news leaking to other clients. There are IT arrangements as well in terms of secured workplace access, IT firewalls and inspection of all outgoing emails.
If you are still tentative about outsourcing, please get in touch with Magistral Consulting. We support dozens of Investment Banks in outsourcing critical and non-critical work. We will ensure you get a pilot done to see the quality of our work before deciding on a long term engagement.
The author is the CEO of Magistral Consulting. Magistral has helped dozens of Investment Banks based out of the US, the UK, Europe and Asia in outsourcing operations. He can be reached at Prabhash.email@example.com in case of queries, observations or business inquiries.