Ashish Kwatra, Vice President of Finance & Accounting Solutions at Teleperformance India, discusses what the new generation of customers expect from finance outsourcing providers and how businesses can capitalise on emerging market opportunities.
Business needs are ever-evolving, leaving every department ripe for digital disruption. Gaps between customer expectations for digital services and current capabilities in the Finance and Accounting (F&A) function are creating more reason for organisations to explore outsourcing. Firms are turning to external service providers that, in essence, become their cloud-based finance teams. Outsourcing operations in this way is giving businesses an opportunity to meet new expectations of becoming agile, resilient, and insights-driven, and ultimately create a long-term competitive strategy.
A recent ISG Report reveals that organisations are on the hunt for F&A outsourcing providers to enable data-driven decisions. This comes as 86 per cent of customers admit their expectations of brands’ digital capabilities have increased since the pandemic struck. The more traditional financial institutions are finding themselves at the centre of this growing pressure to offer advanced technology, holistic advisers, and improved collaboration with clients. F&A outsourcing specialists are improving that level of visibility into finance operations and using generated insights to enhance the end-customer experience (as well as meet general financial needs).
Practices that manage to keep pace with expectations and market trends will therefore gain a significant advantage. – When investing in outsourcing, CFOs should be considering the following factors to ensure its adding the most value to their business.
Making the case for F&A outsourcing
It is a common debate for businesses to decide whether the finance function should be outsourced. As disruptive technologies become more widely adopted and customers more conscious of cutting costs and adding value, the bar for expectations will continue to rise. To deliver the best-in-class performance that is expected of end-users, CFOs must make an informed decision on whether to invest in the specialised services of F&A experts. By partnering with dedicated service providers, organisations can have a direct channel to scalable processes with the below benefits:
Reduction in cost of finance: Taking the steps to boost profitability internally by refocusing on revenue-generating activities and increasing efficiency.
Streamlined target operating model: The daily workflow can become more productive by allowing the experts to streamline operations where possible.
Reduction in revenue leakage: The shift away from cumbersome, legacy processes to more advanced technologies such as Robotic Process Automation can prevent unprecedented revenue drains.
Working capital enhancement: Dedicated teams are equipped to optimise the balance between assets and liabilities, to grant firms more freedom to focus on the company’s core goals – without the hassle of chasing overdue accounts.
Demanding more than just transactional services
Aside from performing the transactional duties that come with closing the books on time and remaining compliant, organisations are leaning on F&A outsourcing to tap into more strategic capabilities. Automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning are all integral to delivering valuable financial insights to CFOs and translating added value to the end customer. Technologies like these can enable businesses to dig deeper into the financial functions, resulting in seamless, easier financial transactions.
It is not just about using new technologies, the rise of APIs is allowing businesses to work collaboratively to source services that they do not have with third parties, driving data simplification.
Looking ahead, it is expected that new delivery models will emerge as RPA and algorithms join a more diverse financial workforce, whilst new tools and microservices will challenge the traditional ERPs
Customers deserve best-in-class service
Clients increasingly expect their service providers to get closer to their customers’ needs. F&A providers should be exceeding the typical service and remaining agile in managing customers finances, and guiding revenue growth and business modelling. Transactions aside, relationship-building has become a must in the remote working environment.
Trust and honesty is core to relationship-building in accounting, and customers will want to know there is a human agent on the other end of the transaction. A High-Tech, High-Touch approach to customer service can be a firm’s brand differentiator in a sector driven by data, whereby empathic connections are balanced with advanced technology.
Reimagining the future finance function
Indeed, customer expectations have seen a gradual rise. Many companies have understood the changing dynamics of custiomer expectations, therefore, they have set up several cloud-based finance departments in order to provide the best services to their customers.
In the post-pandemic era, companies trying to remain relevant and keep customers’ finances stable will be more technologically advanced. There is a growing opportunity for organisations to focus on such revenue-generating activities by working with experienced external providers. Outsourcing models ultimately grant CFOs access to the latest technologies and in order to keep up with the latest trends, and in some cases stay ahead of the curve, CFOs must be aware of the changing finance function.