A webinar with:
Michael Risoli | Business Manager MKS Group
Service Excellence in an Accounting Business Awardee
Hosted by The Outsourced Accountant CEO, Nick Sinclair, we find out what it takes to be not only a winner at the Panalitix Annual Achievement Awards 2017 but also as innovators in the accounting and finance industry. Hard work, smarts, adaptability to the times are what stood out from these two firms. Below are excerpts from the Q and A part of our webinar.
How have you found the quality of staff to be like with offshoring?
Jamie: TOA provides a really good screening process so you’d always hire suitable candidates with the qualifications that you require. Some of the staff would really come with high-end skills. For example, we needed someone in payroll and you wanted to find someone with international experience. The quality hasn’t been an issue for us.
TOA provides a range of applicants to interview and then you can take them through some of your own tests. So we do a sort of matrix on every person and then decide. And then the rest will be up to the leadership of the business to take those people in, train them, make them feel part of the team, part of the culture. That hasn’t been a problem.
How have your clients found the fact that you are outsourcing?
Jamie: We’re upfront with clients. We don’t make it a massive issue and sort of push it in everyone’s face. At the same time, we don’t hide it. We just treat it exactly the same as you would hire someone locally. If people ask, we tell them. We introduce the offshore staff to clients. You really have to make your business strategy part of your plans. You’re really putting a stake in the sand and say “this is what I stand for”.
For whatever reason, if you (clients) don’t like it perhaps Sky Accountants is not for you. But that’s the decision that we’d let the client make. In saying that, we’ve never had it as an issue.
Can you tell us more about ‘compliance work dying’? What’s your take on this?
Jamie: Compliance is as relevant as it’s ever been. If you look at selling your business, or for those who are out there looking to buy businesses, you cannot buy businesses based on your current income. So all these rubbish about compliance dying or going away, it’s just rubbish because at the end of the day, people buy and sell businesses. They buy and sell based on a new income.
What are tax returns? They are annuity income. What’s bookkeeping? And that’s annuity income. And the three things about that tug of work is it’s teachable, it’s repeatable, and it’s scalable. So it’s as relevant as ever and it will never go away.
Michael: I’ve heard that many times, in some cases, in some areas where you have a simple tax return, maybe that’s what you start to lose steam as regulation changes. But we only have to look at the changes to superannuation and that just sort of makes the complexity of compliance that much harder from a superannuation point of view. I don’t see it dying and I haven’t actually experienced a reduction in compliance in the last probably 5 years, didn’t probably even hear that kind of talk. It’s really been upwards and onwards.
As structures become more complex, compliance grows with it. I don’t see it dying right now.
With setting up your offshore team, have you had to go over to the Philippines? How often? What’s your strategy in making your offshore team part of your global team?
Michael: We definitely see a lot of value in going over to the Philippines. Currently, every quarter we go over there. But in between that, there’s daily interaction with the team on everything, from learning and coaching point of view to instruction point of view.
Definitely, every time we have gone over, we see an uplift in the understanding (of the work and culture) and the effort. We’re actually looking at what Jamie has done and bringing some of them here on a rotational basis.
Jamie: You need to speak with them every day on either TeamViewer or Skype for Business, or with whatever platform you’re using. I went there to the Philippines in December last year, for the first time in over two years since we’ve been working with TOA.
In that time, we’ve had two accountants come to Australia for training. So we have our in-house policy now on bringing someone here for training. On the flipside, we will have someone going there every six months from the team. So both ways.
If you were to walk in your shoes again and you were to start your practice as a clean slate tomorrow, what would you do differently?
Jamie: That’s an easy one, Nick. I’d get a mentor.
Michael: I’d get a piece of paper and design what I think the firm should look like, how the business is going to run and how I see myself in it rather than getting stuck into a default mode and end up sort of having to reverse engineer it.
How often do you spend time with your offshore team?
Jamie: We speak to them every day via TeamViewer or Skype for Business whatever the platform is. I went there to the Philippines in December last year for the first time. In that time we’ve had two accountants come to Australia for training, so we’ve got our in-house policy now that when someone’s out here with us try to bring them out here for training and on the flip side we will have someone going there like every six months from the team, both ways.
Michael: We do daily interaction with the team, from a learning and coaching point of view to instruction point of view. It’s like having a team member here locally. You have to invest in them. For us, it was a no-brainer to go overseas and to actually work with them and sit with them and see what the environment they work in and also understand how information from our end is coming in and how we can improve that for their benefit as well.
Our full blog coming next with insights on the following:
- Their biggest success factors as accounting firms
- Their biggest challenges and how they overcame them
- Outsourcing – how it helped them achieve success