Jul 16, 2021

To Free Time for Advisory Services, Accounting Offshoring May Help

Charles HylanBy Charles Hylan

There has been a long-running argument that if those of us in the accounting profession are to thrive, and not just survive, we’re going to have to switch from a compliance mindset (merely enabling our clients to comply with prevailing tax codes) to an advisory role. By assuming an active position as trusted advisers, we can demonstrate our superior tax expertise to enable our clients to accomplish their strategic business goals in ways they never imagined.

To help you with a transition into a greater advisory role, consider bringing on offshore talent as a tactic.

Normally, when those of us in the CPA field discuss securing non-U.S. workers — recruiting accounting professionals abroad to execute some of your firm’s work — it’s in the context of accounting labor shortages. But if last year proved anything, it is that firms can successfully manage a remote workforce and deliver high-quality services in a virtual setting.

CPA viewing global workforce options onlineThe CPA Practice Advisor article “Has Covid Changed Accounting Firm Offshore Hiring?” by Patrick Ross contends that offshore staffing could answer some of the profession’s most pressing problems right now. In Ross’s view, offshore teams are designed to augment, not replace, existing CPA teams in the United States. By absorbing routine work, however, offshore support can save managers and senior staff from burnout and overwork while freeing them up to focus on high-value, client-facing advisory work.

Think of it. While you’re driving, you’d never say, “I’m too busy to buy gas.” By the same token, you’d never say, “I’m too busy to take care of my best clients.” Offshoring can be a tactic that creates capacity for your partners and frees up their time to devote to the more lucrative advisory practice, which is the future of your firm.

U.S. CPA firms rightly have concerns about engaging offshore talent sources. Will the in-house staff be threatened? Would clients disapprove? What about security concerns? And exactly how skilled is the offshore staff?

Here are a few other matters you will want to address:

  • Client references and client testimonials featured on their website and social media
  • Online reviews
  • IT policy, internal data security and confidentiality policy, and compliance record
  • Agreements before you sign: be aware of relevant clauses
  • Cybersecurity defenses, error and omission insurance, and certifications

Also, feel free to ask for a virtual tour of their office.

A major player in the world of offshore CPA talent staffing is a firm called Entigrity, which has partnered with more than 250 U.S. accounting firms since the pandemic. A search for “offshore staffing for accountants” will yield a large number of potential partners that may be suitable for your needs.

Charles Hylan is managing director of The Growth Partnership in Chesterfield, Mo. He can be reached at chylan@thegrowthpartnership.com.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.