Guest: Nick Sinclair
Presenter: Henry Acosta
Guest Bio: Nick Sinclair is one of the foremost experts in offshoring for Accounting firms. As the CEO of The Outsourced Accountant, Nick drives an Australian-based executive team to deliver outstanding and dedicated offshoring solutions for Account and Finance Firms in the Philippines. With over 500+ specialist accountants and support staff that are part of a repeat double digit growth business, Nick thrives on being able to help firms succeed and unlock their potential. The Business focuses on helping firms in Australia, US and NZ deliver more services and value to their clients, fast. If you have capacity constraints, are looking to scale or just want to know what’s possible with outsourcing, then do get in touch.
Segment overview: The Outsourced Accountant or TOA is dedicated in helping Accounting firms in Australia, New Zealand, and UK in carrying out their administration and compliance works. TOA utilizes technology allowing you to save time and money by focusing on more important matters in your business while your offshore team works on the time-consuming tasks. Nick Sinclair, CEO of TOA, talks about the services they offer – what they do, how they do it, and why TOA is the best partner you can get when planning to outsource your accounting work in the Philippines.
Clark Office – 3rd Floor Business Center 7, Philexcel Business Park, M.A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport Zone Philippines
Manila Office – 4th Floor, Ortigas Building, Ortigas Avenue, San Antonio, Pasig City, Philippines
Contact: (INTL) 1300 896 522
To know more about The Outsourced Accoutnant, listen to the podcast below.
The interview will start at 11:32 mark of the podcast episode.
Henry Acosta: Hi, this is the Offshoring and Outsourcing Philippines podcast. My name is Henry Acosta and I am your host for today. Our guest today is the CEO of The Outsourced Accountant, his name is Nick Sinclair and Nick is an entrepreneur by heart and he is one of the first and foremost experts in the offshoring industry for accounting firms in the Philippines. The Outsourced Accountant boasts over 500 specialist accountants and support staffs that has helped them succeed and unlock their business potential. They focus on helping firms that are in Australia, U.S. and New Zealand. With all that said, thank you so much for coming on the show Nick, we’re glad that you can join us today.
Nick Sinclair: Thank you for having me Henry. I appreciate it.
Henry Acosta: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you discovered the Philippines as a place for business?
Nick Sinclair: Definitely. I’m a financial planner by trade. I owned a financial planning and accounting practice in Australia for a bit over 10 years and I was actually in the Philippines for a global board retreat for a group called, ‘Entrepreneurs’ Organization’ and I’ll sitting on the board for that. My time in the Philippines for that I met one of our members from Brisbane and he actually had some staff operating as a back office in Makati I think it was. He invited me to go and have a look at what he was doing just to really show us what he’s doing. I went and saw the 30 staff generating 3,000 to 4,000 leads a day for his business back in Australia. It just really opened my eyes to what was possible and I saw such a variety of skills and roles that they were doing there. And I really looked in and our business is very compliance heavy in Australia particularly in financial planning, you’re looking at 3 or 4 administration staff to every income producer. I looked at what he was doing from a marketing point of view and looked at how I could apply that, but also how I could make my firm more efficient in a lot more cost-effective way. After that, we ended up incorporating and setting up our own back office team there so we put on 30 staff to start with. The aim was for us to be doing it for our own business. But within 3 months, I had other accounting firms that were friends of mine or knew me in the industry, asking if they could go into our facility because they didn’t want to have to go and replicate the setup and the cost and everything that we did. Almost overnight it turned into a business, we’ve been running now for three and a half years. After 9 months, we had 90 staff and we went up to 210 staff, last year we went up to 410 staff. As of today, we’re sitting at a bit over 550 staff with a hundred in recruiting will end up at the end of this calendar year at about 750 -800 staff. We’ve had some pretty solid growth around that and it’s just a fantastic place to be operating and accounting firms globally are really taking to this whole new model and building global teams as opposed to teams that are just based in their own country and own areas where they operate.
Henry Acosta: That sounds really impressive. You guys sound like a great firm for employees and clients. I mean, you wouldn’t get that much employees and those many clients if you guys weren’t so great.
Nick Sinclair: No, it’s uninteresting. I mean there’s a huge talent pool in the Philippines particularly the accountants, there is a significant talent pool coming through university. As you know, there’s over a hundred million people living in the Philippines but we’re getting over 15,000 applications a year from accountants to come and work for us. There’s no shortage of quality people and equally, I suppose the reason why we’re growing in the success we’ve had to date has really been because of the people that we employ are really, really good at what they do. It’s easy for our clients to be able to grow with really competent people which means that they put on more people. It’s a blend of really good clients and a real good blend of just the quality of staff that are coming through.
Henry Acosta: With regards to starting out an outsourcing and offshoring firm in the Philippines, how did you guys end up with an accounting firm? I mean a lot of people or a lot of foreigners usually go here to make contact centers or back office centers?
Nick Sinclair: I think the main reason I had in accounting firm in Australia, so the reason why when I always looking at AO members office and operation what he was doing, I always looking directly from my own accounting firm and financial planning business. That’s why we reached on this, started with those roles and then it turned into a business and we’re very much just very niche focused. We only deal in accounting firms and financial service firms, we’re very focused on that. We have a real structure training team like no other provider has, no one can do that. We’ve got relationships with CPA Australia where we can train our staff in the Philippines so that they get an international CPA accreditation on top of what they already have in the Philippines. We’ve recently built relationships with the PICPA which is the equivalent of the CPA in the Philippines where we’ve taught in with their local chapters to be able to provide internal training to our staff. Our whole business has been designed for our clients and employees. We are set up for accountants, we are a workplace for accountants. Everything that we do, every policy we have, every process we make is built and designed for accountants, because accountants don’t want to work in a call-center. They don’t want to go and work in a BPO where in the middle of 500 people that are phones. Accountants are professional people, they need big desks, they need dual screens, they need a quiet space, they need breakout rooms, the facilities need to be designed with them in mind. We’re very, very much focused on our employees because we know that ultimately, they will then deliver for our clients.
Henry Acosta: Do you have any comparison with regards to how the BPO model works in the Philippines compared to maybe other countries that service BPO also?
Nick Sinclair: The whole outsourcing model has traditionally been in the accounting space, predominantly around India and even Vietnam. A lot of the models that work there is that the accounting firms from around the world will send the accounting work there. They will then do the work and then send it back – it’s a true outsource model. Our model is very different to that where it is what we call an, ‘Offshore Model’, where we’re providing people that were dedicated for those clients and they work full time for their clients, whether it they’d be one employee or 50 employees. They solely worked for that client and the benefits of that is they get ingrained in a client’s culture, they learn the client’s systems and processes, the client’s responsible on a daily basis for communicating and working with them. They have a lot more direct contact with their clients. With traditional BPO, is you have a major client but you will never have any interaction with them because you’re just basically doing the work that you’re given. That’s why our model is very much saying to the accounting firms: What roles do you want? Here are the people. Now they are your responsibility, they’re basically your employee. But we provide the office, the environment, the HR, the IT, we provide all of those, but very much, they work solely for their client so they need to fit within their culture. The benefit of that is also, I mean last year, we had 20% of our workforce travelling overseas to America or Australia for training. So a significant amount of our staff get to go international whether it be Australia, or U.S. or New Zealand for training in our client offices. It’s one of the big plusses for us and equally, last year, we had 150 client visits or more than 150 of our clients came over to the Philippines to spend a couple of weeks at least training their staff, getting to know them and really building that personalized relationship with them because they’re just another employee, they’re just working in the global office as opposed to their local domestic office.
Henry Acosta: Yes. I like how you described that as a global office – how a BPO is a global office.
Nick Sinclair: Look that’s I suppose that’s part of our mission is revolutionizing global accounting teams. We see the future of the accounting space in that they will have global teams spread across the world. It’s not going to be the traditional accounting firm that it’s on the corner of suburb and that’s where they operate. Now they’re going to have global workforces and getting the right people at the right price with the right skills and they can be anywhere in the world.
Henry Acosta: Would you ever recommend clients to visit your offices? And where are your offices here in the Philippines?
Nick Sinclair: Yes. We’ve got an office in Ortigas in Manila and we’ve also got three offices in Clark down in Pampanga. We’re currently investigating three other regions or areas to move into in early 2019. Our model is really around spreading out our office and workforce across the country to get the best accountants in each of the locations that we operate
Henry Acosta: Can you describe to us who your ideal client would be?
Nick Sinclair: Our ideal client is pretty simple, it’s an accounting firm that wants to build the global workforce, that wants to really focus on providing more efficient and better services to their clients. The ability to build out a global workforce allow them to be able to provide a lot more cost-effective services to clients at a lot quicker rate. We don’t mind if the accounting firms are sole practitioner or they are a second tier firm with 800 people in Australia or 4,000 in America. We can help all types of firms, it’s a matter of what’s their strategy to build out and grow their business.
Henry Acosta: For your clients, what do you think has been different with The Outsourced Accountant? Why have they been staying with you guys?
Nick Sinclair: Yes look, I suppose why we attracted so many and why we get the best accounting firms coming to partner with us is that our whole business is built for accounting firms. Our training offering, our linkage with the CPA Australia where we can train our Philippine staff under the CPA and have an international recognition and ties with the CPA in the Philippines with the universities and the scholarships that we provide. Everything we do is designed for our employee and our client being accountants. Other providers can provide accountants but they’re going to be stuck in the middle of graphic artists, engineers, and designers and whatever else. They’re not in a business that has been built for them and for the environment that they need to work the best. We also provide … training, team building events that are all focused around their profession. So they’re not just big parties, they’re really tailored around how do we make our people better people outside of work but also, so that they can then become better people at work. Everything we do is just tailored towards accountants and the financial services industry because that’s what we know, it’s what we understand and it’s what are business is.
Henry Acosta: Wow. What would be your advice for people and who are interested in offshoring with you guys?
Nick Sinclair: My biggest advice is that it’s a long-term strategy, it’s not a short-term workflow fix. By that, you’re building a global workforce which brings into account so many different dynamics – your systems, your processes, your communication rhythms internally. There’s a lot of things that get exposed when you start building an office that is a global workforce that’s 8 hour flight away. They’re not right in front of you to be able to just come in and ask you questions. The biggest thing that we say to all of our new clients and even existing clients is you really need to work on your strategy and really need to work on how to maximize the efficiency of having a global workforce. There’s a lot of systems, and tools and processes that we do help our new clients and existing clients with to maximize that – utilizing technology, utilizing systems. We have strong alliance partners with all of the product, the software in the industries. We’re one of, probably the only provider globally, that is able to do a lot about training of the software that the accountants will use in-house. We also work and partner with those companies to go: How is the firm, if they’re an Australian firm currently utilizing the software? Are they getting the full benefit out of it? Because a lot of people used software but they don’t get the full benefit out of it because they only use certain features of it. We have a strong relationship where we will work with them to try make them utilize the technology as much as possible and a lot of those tasks will then be driven by the offshore team. It goes beyond just saying “Here’s your team members.” It’s really around how do we make you become more efficient. We understand what you do all day, everyday because we live and breathe the same thing. How do we make you a better practice overall and really build out your global workforce?
Henry Acosta: For interested people who are already visiting the Philippines or who are already here, what can you recommend about the Philippines to them?
Nick Sinclair: It’s an absolutely amazing country. I love the place, I love being here. My recommendation would be is just get ingrained in the culture. Don’t fly in and sit in a 5-Star western hotel, get out … it’s a beautiful and brilliant place, the people are so friendly and there’s so many islands that are just absolutely amazing. From a holiday point view and some down time to recharge, it’s a brilliant place to come for not only work, but for pleasure and relaxing. It’s just a phenomenal place. Get out of your hotel and try and get to know the people and the country.
Henry Acosta: For those interested in The Outsourced Accountant, what is the best way to get in touch with you guys?
Nick Sinclair: Well the best way is just to go on our website which is www.theoutsourcedaccountant.com. Send us a message and we’re happy to chat to anyone around how we can help them with their offshore global team.
Henry Acosta: Awesome. And for our last question, what would be your final take away message for all our listeners right now?
Nick Sinclair: The main thing I would say is that don’t discount. A lot of people have negative perceptions of building a global workforce and the challenge around it. It’s really not as hard as what people think, it’s just a process and it’s a system, and it’s just really partnering with a provider that can hold your hand through that journey and really get it up and running as fast and efficiently as possible.
Henry Acosta: Awesome. Well thank you so much for coming on the show today Nick. That’s all our questions for today.
Nick Sinclair: No worries. Thank you so much for having me.
Henry Acosta: And that was Nick Sinclair, the CEO of The Outsourced Accountant. We just finished talking about how he spearheaded and became one of the first and foremost experts in the offshoring industry for accounting firms in the Philippines, The Outsourced Accountant. If you’re interested in hearing more about the offshoring industry, you can visit us at www.offshoring.com.ph. We’re also on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. You can also download our audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.