With many companies using finance outsourcing to add value, increase business flexibility and prepare for future growth, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has played a significant role in being at the forefront of supporting finance outsourcing organizations to build talent by tailoring their qualification to suit the unique requirements and business capabilities needed by this industry.
Amongst such organizations in the country, is WNS Global Services, a platinum approved employer of ACCA. Dinesh Wickremanayake, Managing Director of WNS outlined some of the challenges and changes that will take place in this sector over the next decade.
Wickremanayake stated that Sri Lanka is emerging as a global BPM destination and the sector has been identified as a thrust industry. “However, if it is to reach their end goal of delivering 220,000 jobs by 2020, they need to focus on becoming a center of excellence for several key sectors such as financial and accounting services, investment research, human resources services and legal services, along with IT services. Among these sectors, financial and accounting services has shown a notable growth with Sri Lanka having the world’s largest pool of UK qualified English-speaking accounting professionals outside UK. This should be further developed given their immeasurable potential.”
He further explained “Customers will demand digital services and experiences similar to other industries. Therefore, we need to start taking some bold steps to engage with these emerging innovations if we are we to be successful and remain competitive”.
He also cited that whilst maintaining in being comparatively cost competitive than many established global sourcing destinations, Sri Lanka will need to build ‘FinTech’ or financial technology expertise in the sector.
“F&A outsourcing firms will need to help businesses quickly examine large amounts of financial data for better decision-making insights, from revenue assurance, to working capital analytics, to cost reduction, to running robust customer relationship management systems, as well as leveraging data to improve and maximize cash flow and drive strategic initiatives.”
“F&A outsourcing firms will need to deliver integration and a holistic end-to-end approach with their value proposition expanding beyond the bottom line and directly targeting the clients’ top line performance. The future of F&A outsourcing will belong to a workforce that is both finance and technology savvy.Professional accounting bodies such as ACCA has been very pro-active in taking such trends into account and incorporating areas such as ‘digitization’ into their qualifications as a key subject, as well as conducting their examinations online”.
Wickremanayake expressed that with the high turnover rate in the sector , Sri Lanka needs to showcase how finance professionals in F&A outsourcing have opportunities for faster career growth and to build experience in different industries in a more global environment. “This will help promote the sector as a lucrative career option, leading to a more stable workforce with low attrition rates and building stakeholder confidence”.
According to Wickremanayake, organization’s selecting their F&A outsourcing firms will be based on provider skills, placing greater demands on their capabilities and service approach in the ability to create value, flexibility, providing business insights, greater efficiency and productivity, and improved governance and transparency. “Overall, it will all be about developing better insights to support decision making and providing better service to business with innovation and end-to-end integration by utilizing digitalization”.
“Investments will need to be made in people with specific training requirements determined at each level, develop competency profiles and steer progressive professional development opportunities for employees. Training will need to cover analytical and innovative skills, business acumen and integrity. International accounting bodies such as ACCA have boldly changed their syllabus to suit such needs of employers by training their students in case study modules known as the ‘Strategic business leader’ which fosters the practical skills needed in the workplace, along with their Ethics & Professional skills module that gives prominence to the areas of innovation, commercial awareness, analysis, evaluation, problem solving, leadership, team working and communication skills. “
Wickremanayake concluded “Ultimately, the future success of this industry will be reliant on the government providing the ecosystem to promote the industry both locally and globally, the private sector offering lucrative career incentives and professional finance bodies training the younger generation with the skills needed by the sector.”