Can Australian accounting graduates survive offshoring?

Can Australian Accounting Graduates Survive Offshoring?

In the last three years, there has been a definite increase in the number of accounting roles being transferred offshore. The trend to ‘offshoring’ is not new and started over a decade ago. What has changed in recent years, however, is the level of the roles that are being taken offshore. In the beginning, it was data entry and customer service positions, but after testing the viability of offshoring with these types of roles, major corporates are going ‘up the line’.

In terms of accounting, this means transactional teams such as accounts payable and accounts receivable have moved overseas. In recent times, this has moved to more senior levels for accounting professionals, with many ‘shared service’ centres ensuring the integrity of the general ledger, whilst reporting remains in Australia. Business analysis is next.  Check out this BRW article and this analysis by the Certified Practising Accountants (CPAs).

So how does this affect new graduates? Over the years, the number of entry level positions for accounting graduates has not grown. The growth in the economy has shielded the effect of offshoring, and only now are we starting to understand how this will limit the opportunities for graduate accountants.

I started my career in accounting with the chartered accounting firm Deloitte. It was a great start. I realised I was not the best accountant, so instead I now recruit accountants for people2people. Roles in chartered accounting firms still exist, but getting that transactional role with a large corporate, such as a bank, has disappeared.  You may have seen this article last year relating to ANZ Bank.

I would go so far as to suggest that we probably don’t need graduate accountants from overseas in quite the numbers we did before. Having said that, if we don’t train our own accountants, we may need to import these skills in the future.  An interesting question indeed.

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Mark Smith

Mark Smith

Managing Director at people2people
Commencing his career with Deloitte in the late 1980’s, Mark is a qualified Accountant. In 1994, he decided to make a career switch to the recruitment industry. During his early recruitment career with two listed recruitment entities, Mark recruited and managed teams in both temporary and permanent disciplines, in the Sydney, Brisbane and London markets. In February 2005, Mark established people2people with Manda Milling and Simon Gressier. Mark is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA), a member of the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association (MRCSA) and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD).

14 comments

  1. Excellent article. Thank you.

    That explains everything (but there’s still hope for analysts then?)

    I refer to 4. Offshoring to Australia: Establishing a hub for certain finance and accounting activities
    in http://www.cpaaustralia.com.au/~/media/Corporate/AllFiles/Document/professional-resources/business/offshoring-impact-on-the-accounting-profession.pdf

  2. Robert Lopez says:

    Off-shoring is a complex topic. Fact is if a small suburban accounting or tax practice advertises for a graduate 90% of the applicants will be recent arrivals who completed their schooling overseas; not in Australia. Nothing wrong with such people but it highlights that when it comes to cultural issues off-shoring for graduates can be about hiring the same thing. The advantage of off-shoring then is that because these graduates do not live in a high cost economy like Australia they can be paid less in wages.

    • I understand your logic, Robert, but believe this is another example of ‘you pay for what you get’. Yes, the offshore work is performed at a lower cost, but what is the quality of that work like, and how much time is spent in resolving issues created by the ‘over promise but under deliver’? (Sorry, this is not meant to be a cliché festival.) It is certainly not uncommon for organisations to ship a number of roles offshore and then to have locally based teams focused on resolving the issues created, e.g. complaints from customers. Large companies seem to be able to live with the reputational harm caused by this, but, given the effort smaller businesses put into securing clients/customers, it is still less common for them to run this risk. Better to have the employees closer at hand to review the work being performed.

      • Robert Lopez says:

        Thank you – you have a point no doubt about that but software applications like Expert Type Systems go a long way way in dealing with it. Modern day computers and the Internet etc are a power tool. Businesses can use comprehensive online interactive checklists, MP3 and 4’s and a whole range of other solutions to guide people working offshore so that the quality of work is far better than people onshore are comfortable with. Finally, look into ATO research at the amount of errors tax agents and the like are making when preparing and lodging tax returns. On the basis that 99% of this work is done onshore it does raise the point that poor quality work is not just something that happens offshore.

  3. […] transactional roles in the accounting and finance sector are being ‘offshored’, leaving fewer opportunities for those being made redundant and those looking for entry level […]

  4. Great article – this doesn’t get brought up nearly often enough. I started my career with PwC so I feel as if a lot of these issues are so relevant today and in the very near future.

    You guys may be interested in a story from a girl from KPMG who started her career recently but actually recommends it for various reasons that I’ll never understand: http://www.therealbigfour.org/graduate-accounting-jobs/

  5. I guess offshoring is okay as long as that person is deserving for that position. But if there are two people deserving for the accounting position: one from offshore and another one Australian, I guess we should consider the Australian first. That’s only my idea though.

  6. Great article!! I liked your blog as well. Everyone has their own ideas but i also prefer Australian rather than offshore. Thanks for sharing

  7. Nice to hear Very interesting! Thanks for share information & I’m looking forward to visiting your blog again

  8. Koby Findley says:

    Yes they can survive in off-shore.I must thank you for choosing a nice topic so that people would share their views.
    Chartered accountant Perth Australia

  9. Thanks for sharing. I found some inspirational blog from your list which I didn’t know before. I suggest accounting coach is also a great platform.
    Accountants in London

  10. anjali says:

    Hey simply loved this article..its just what what I needed to know and get that push in the right direction..I love how you make the impossible seem so easy and doable:)

  11. Thanks for sharing excellent information – Super helpful. Looking forward to diving into the content and sharing with our accounting community.

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