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ACCOUNTING BPO: THE NEW FRONTIER

In the last few years, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has become sort of a buzzword among the Bangladeshi IT entrepreneurs. Envision of grabbing a large chunk of global BPO pie has prompted a good number of IT houses to jump onto this latest entrepreneurship bandwagon.

Many new entrants however get daunted after few initial months, as they have realized that the investment-return ratio in the globally competitive market of BPO has the capacity to shatter the confidence of even a seasoned investor.

One BPO service, namely: Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) which is commonly referred as accounting BPO, is proven to be a bit different amidst all.

It has high return on investment, a yet open market which accommodates more new entrants than any other BPO and most importantly, for Bangladesh, it has already proven to be a success albeit in a smaller scale.

Meet Monoj Kumar Talukder, a Bangladeshi expatriate living in London for instance. For years, he was bleeding money to keep certified accountants in his firm registered at the Regent Street in London.

“Now I outsource my accounting tasks from my office in Dhaka. It costs me one-fourth and I get better service with the money I am paying,” Talukder who came to Bangladesh on the recently finished BPO Summit said. Talukder’s company FirstServe Global is one of the increasing offshore accounting firms who now have their financial and accounting services conducted in Bangladesh.

According to Talukder, “This is convenient not only in terms of lessening the company expenses but most importantly in terms of paying countrymen for their services with money earned in foreign shore.”

“This is sort of foreign investment, only in a different manner,” he said.

Citing reasons behind the global increase of outsourcing financial and accounting service, Talukder said, many small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs find it difficult to hire someone with the right skills to prepare their company’s financial statements, manage bank account operations, analyze financial data, and prepare the outgoing invoices.

“Nowadays, it is even more challenging to find the qualified and eligible person at the affordable rate,” he said.

Even though it is commonly believed that accounting and bookkeeping must be done inside of the business, Talukder said, “It is important to ask yourself, whether you have the necessary skills and experience to do this job. Due to this fact, it might be worth considering outsourcing someone with the right knowledge and qualifications- who can do the same job in a more cost effective way.”

A READY MARKET TO TAP IN

Ahmadul Islam Babu, owner of Atom AP Limited-one of the largest BPO outsourcing firm of the country said, “We know where we need to improve. We already have financial attractiveness. If we start improving on the other two factors, we will be able to achieve significant success in few years.”

Babu said most people have a misconception that BPO market only confines to call centre services. “But that’s not the case at all. At present, there are companies in Bangladesh who are engaged in checking the close circuit television camera (CCTV) footages of over 1000 branches of McDonald’s fast food shops.”

“We are not aware of this diversified BPO market. If we were so, then we could have been doing much better because we have the edge of providing services at a very cheap rate.” Babu said that Atom AT ltd started in April, 2015.

“Just within two years, I have been able to employ more than sixty people in my company. I have been providing versatile BPO services in the Japanese market including accounting BPO.”

He said that there are opportunities in the BPO market. “I was being approached by a Pakistani person who lives in the USA. He wanted to outsource accounting task for his firm from my company.” Babu said that there is a lot of accounting BPO scopes from Pakistani firms.

“There are number of Pakistani accounting firms in USA as Pakistanis are good with accounting jobs. Now they want to outsource the accounting tasks but they cannot do it from their own country because Pakistan has some issue with security compliance. They also cannot do it from India because of their bilateral relation; so Bangladeshi companies are in the best position to grab the accounting tasks from those Pakistani companies.”

He said that proper communication is the key to get accounting BPO tasks. “Without communication and reaching out to the outside world, the sector cannot get its desired growth.”

Mohammed Adnan Imam, managing director ,Genex, another large outsourcing company said that the prospect of accounting BPO in Bangladesh is huge considering the availability of Accounts graduate in the country out of which only 15-20% take up jobs in line to their education. “Hence there is a chunk of 80% pool doing something which has minimal or no relevancy to their education.

We do have some freelancing, unstructured accounting works being done for foreign firms from here, and if these are consolidated can make great case studies and success stories which will enable Bangladesh to foray into the global accounting BPO,” said Imam.

About his company, Imam said, “In Genex, we have ready infrastructure and resources and looking for opportunities. We plan to start outsourcing accounting service soon,” he said.

Praising the government, Imam said, the ICT Division has been very supportive of the BPO industry.

“We hope that some governance framework would be created sooner or later to standardize the solution, quality and commercial framework of the BPOs while bidding for global contracts, which will enable rationalized solution proposal and service delivery,” he said. ■

 

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