September 26, 2019
The smaller your practice, the better it is.
My view used to be that outsourcing work overseas was a bad idea. I read horror stories about poor quality work and terrible communication.
Why not just use local freelancers to help when you needed it?
And therein lies a problem. You’ll regularly hear accountants talk about not being able to find the right staff.
It’s more difficult the smaller you are.
Three years ago, I was seriously looking for a full-time team member, either newly qualified or qualified by experience. I had lunch with a friend who I had trained with. He was a partner in a 5-office firm, I mentioned my position – getting very busy and in need of a resource where I could just tell them what needs to be done and they’d get on with it.
He said I’d struggle. A newly qualified, used to working in a busy office with lots of peers would very quickly get bored sharing an office with just me and occasionally being on their own.
He was right. Would I, as a 20 something, have wanted to share an office with me in a rural area with next to nothing to do at lunchtime – apart from walk to the Co-op.
This wasn’t going to work.
Work got busier and got to the point where I went on holiday and spent the first 3 days working. I wasn’t happy and my family weren’t.
I resolved to stop this happening again.
I met up with a small group of accountants who I meet on a regular basis and the talk turned to outsourcing. One of the group had used outsourcing for a number of years, at one point he had outsourced all of his accounts preparation work. For him it had worked very well.
I decided to give it a try.
I met the MD of the first outsourcing company I tried. He was very pleasant and professional. The first job completed would be free of charge. They actually did two jobs for me. The work quality was very good, very detailed working papers and draft final accounts prepared. The fees were reasonable too.
But what let them down was the poor communication. Everything had been communicated by email and I often didn’t get a reply for 4-5 days.
This wouldn’t work.
I spoke to a second outsourcer. A very high-profile organisation who have clear links with Xero. I spoke to the owner, he was very confident and gave me a good sales pitch. I decided to give it a go and he sent across engagement paperwork.
There were a couple of points in the proposal I wasn’t comfortable with. I didn’t want to commit to a 12-month agreement and I didn’t want to commit to 30 hours a month straight away. I’d rather just test the service with 1-2 jobs and see how it went before committing to a long-term arrangement.
He cancelled the agreement. No further discussion, he just cancelled the agreement and wouldn’t return my emails. It was work on his terms or not at all!
The following week I received a marketing e-mail from another outsourcing company. I decided to give them a try, I called and left a message for someone to call me back.
I received a call 1 hour later and arrangements were made for the directors to meet me the following week.
I met the directors and I was very impressed. Work would be completed by qualified accountants, and year-end working papers would be prepared using Xero workpapers.
Fortnightly Zoom calls were arranged where I could speak to the team members who completed the work.
We agreed to a one-month trial. The trial went extremely well, work completed on time and within budget and to an excellent standard.
I decided to continue.
Move forward 2 years and we are still using the same outsourcing company and we now outsource around 90% of year end accounts preparation work, all payroll, some bookkeeping and all vat return work.
It has been a huge success, work completed on time and to a very high standard and with excellent communication. Emails are sent to me and my team every day and we have fortnightly Zoom calls.
I couldn’t be happier.
I’m now able to focus on speaking and meeting clients more often, not being bogged down with ‘compliance’ work. I’ve been able to spend time working on more business development services that we can offer to clients. I’ve also taken on another three UK based team members – a practice manager, a qualified accountant and a personal assistant.
All to help provide more services to our clients, so that we’re focussed on providing more for our existing clients and not just increasing client numbers (a vanity metric).
So, what about the cries that I’ve only done it to reduce costs? I haven’t I’m paying the same for a fully qualified Indian accountant to complete the work as I would pay to an unqualified employee in the UK.
What I have done is increase the quality of work completed for clients by qualified accountants.
This is borne out by the example 12 months ago when my outsourcer identified a £600 discrepancy on the payroll control account for a client. Now given the low level of this discrepancy and the messy state of the client’s records I would have forgiven them for just writing the difference off.
But no, they pursued the matter, insisting that I check the clients Government Gateway account. I did and the £600 payment wasn’t there.
I went back to the client to raise the matter and it started to unravel. The client’s office manager had paid a personal tax bill through the company bank account. What’s more we then identified a further £700 of ‘personal’ payments.
My outsourcer had identified a fraud, my client was delighted we had spotted this and acted so quickly.
Now had we been using local staff, not outsourcers, I am confident that this fraud would not have been identified. The difference would just have been ‘written off’.
This is the highest praise I can give. My outsourcer’s attention to detail and insistence on sorting out the problem correctly had identified the fraud.
My outsourcer has saved my client money.
So, for any accountants out there criticising other accountants for outsourcing, just remember the reasons are not just financial. As we’ve found the quality of work and the speed with which it’s completed has massive benefits for clients.
My only regret is that I didn’t start using Corient Business Solutions sooner.
Thank you Punit, you and your team are a tremendous addition to my firm.
If you’re ready to start or are already running your own accountancy practice, here are 5 ways I can help you run the practice you want, the way you want:
1. Get in touch and arrange a free 30-minute discovery call.
2. Read my e-book about how I transformed my practice.
3. Attend one of our free Mastermind Events.
4. Join of our Mastermind Groups.
5. Work with me on a 1-2-1 basis.