When is outsourcing financial services a good idea?
Perhaps you’ve been doing your books on your own for a while. Maybe you have an in-house team dedicated to your finances, but you want to move them to a different department. It’s possible you want to cut costs and be smarter with your budget.
Any of the above are good reasons to consider letting someone else take charge of the money-tracking department.
In this article, we will define the types of financial services you can outsource. We will also go deeper into the benefits and risks of letting a third party take care of financial duties. We will also give you some advice on how to outsource and the best practices to follow.
What is Financial Services Outsourcing?
This is the process of hiring an outside company to handle parts or the entirety of your business’s financial needs. Financial services is an umbrella term that covers a number of roles, tasks, and responsibilities.
Types of Financial Services Outsourced
This involves all tasks related to maintaining the general ledger of a business. This is basically a journal of all your business transactions.
A bookkeeper is responsible for bank reconciliation, recording transactions, categorizing them into the proper accounts, and keeping receipts. They can also manage your accounts payable (what you owe) and accounts receivable (what others owe you). Other common duties include expense tracking, paying bills, issuing invoices, and preparing papers for tax filing. They prepare essential financial statements monthly or as needed including your Cash Flow Statement, Balance Sheet, and Income Statement. They tend to work closely or sometimes under an accountant.
Accountants can typically perform all the duties a bookkeeper can. Though they are qualified to perform a variety of other duties, such as
- Tax preparation, tax filing, and payment
- Tax planning services
- Auditing duties
- Creating and presenting budgets and forecasting
- Managing a team of bookkeepers and clerics
Both accountants and bookkeepers also tend to use accounting software. This software helps automate certain processes, allows for more accuracy, and makes their lives easier.
Bookkeepers and accountants can give you some level of financial guidance. Sometimes, however, you need to bring in the big guns.
A financial analyst and strategist will gather all financial information, interpret the data, and run analyses. They will view key financial metrics, create spreadsheets, and run reports. After evaluating the data, they can come up with detailed plans to cut costs, increase profitability, and generally improve the financial standing of the business.
An analyst will also be able to research and recommend potential investment opportunities and other ways to increase business profits.
Need help to pay your employees and calculate taxes and withholdings? You can outsource that too! Those in charge of payroll can automate pay schedules with software. They can set up multiple payment options for your employees. Payroll accountants track time off, paid leaves, holiday bonuses, deductions, and overtime pay. They also make sure payroll tax documentation is accurate and complete for filing.
Benefits of Outsourcing Financial Services
Keeping an in-house team has its benefits, but one of them is not cost savings. Wages and salaries are one thing, but consider other factors such as taxes, overheads, paid leave, and other employee benefits. It adds up. An outsourced team would be lighter on your wallet.
Not to be stingy with paying workers, but you may not be spending your money very effectively. Ask yourself. Are you really getting the most of your in-house financial team? You may find yourself paying a full-time rate when you don’t actually need them to be active that much. You could get by with fractional bookkeepers who can take care of duties on a project basis.
Expertise and Experience
Consider also that you are getting experts in the field to take care of your financials. These professionals have already developed systems and processes in place. They know how to spot mistakes right away and fix them quickly. They can bring a level of efficiency to your business. Not only that, but a lot of these individuals and teams have worked with other companies and clients before. This means they likely have experience with businesses of all sizes and know how to apply that knowledge to yours.
If finance tasks bog you or key members of your business down, consider outsourcing financial services. This frees up core staff to work on more pressing matters, like sales or advertising. Back-office tasks shouldn’t put the actual operation of your business on hold. By outsourcing financial help, you allow yourself to do what you do best and let them do the same.
The great thing about outsourcing is the freedom it gives you to upscale and downgrade when needed. Is tax season coming up and you need more help? No problem, hire an accounting team to get that done for you. You can work based on hours or projects and hire them again only when you need them.
Another factor to consider is the FinTech infrastructure. Not only can they carry the latest, state-of-the-art software, but they also know how to use it. This saves you monthly subscription fees you would likely have to pay on top of paying for those who will use it.
Risks of Outsourcing Financial Services
Data Security Concerns
This is probably the risk that most are concerned by. Financial data is very sensitive information to hand off to anyone.
There are a few ways this can be mitigated. For instance, hire a company that has clear data protection policies and security measures in place.
However, you still cannot guarantee the complete safety of your data when hiring freelancers. Nor can you guarantee they have well-protected data servers or tight lips around the office!
Lack of Control Over Processes
You won’t have much control or oversight over the course of the project. You have the authority to evaluate meeting schedules, but it can be challenging to arrange them.. This is especially true if they are from different time zones.
Remote team management can be challenging. While time zones can allow you to get work done after hours, it can also cause work delays. For instance, if you’re from New York and are hiring in the Philippines, the gap is 13 hours.
Sometimes you also can’t guarantee they will have a consistent internet connection on their end.
How to Outsource Financial Services
Identify Business Needs
Before starting your search, ask yourself these questions:
- What type of financial service do you need?
- Are you partially outsourcing or are you outsourcing the entire process (BPO)?
- Do you need a full time, part time, or fractional service?
- Do you want an individual or a team?
This is a big consideration. You might start by researching the general cost of in-house vs outsourced services. It will be challenging to get an exact amount, but at least you’ll have an idea of what you can afford.
Consider what you can set aside for trial projects, any associated hiring fees, and the services as a whole.
Find the Right Partner
We can subdivide this step into four key steps: seeking, sifting, selecting, and starting
Step 1: Seeking
This step is all about research. You need to expect that looking for the right fit will take time. Browse popular lists online for outsourcing services and freelance marketplaces.
Step 2: Sifting
This stage is all about narrowing down your options. This is where you start comparing price points, services offered, and product benefits. One service may offer a free trial month of bookkeeping. The other might offer better value monthly plans. Maybe you’re looking for a solution that can do catch-up bookkeeping which can seamlessly transition to a regular service.
In this step you set up initial interviews with your select few. Do they match your values? Would they be a good fit for your company culture? Do you think they can work well with your team?
Step 3: Selecting
Finally, after careful consideration you’ve decided to pick one. This step involves negotiations (rate, schedule, etc.) and where you conduct your remote onboarding process.
Onboarding is all about getting them up to speed on your business and duties. You also set up schedules for check ins and deadlines.
Step 4: Starting
You’re now ready to get to work with your new outsourced worker/team! This stage is all about monitoring their performance and building good working relationships.
Best Practices for Outsourcing Financial Services
Set Clear Expectations / Onboard Well
Create a list of duties, responsibilities, and qualifications and attach it to your job description template. This way, both of you know the needs of your business. Going through these before and during onboarding ensures that you have those needs met.
Hire from Reputable Sources
To mitigate outsourcing risks, hire from places that are known. Consider looking at client or customer reviews online. These show you a picture of what to expect when working with these services or people.
If we’re talking finances, you need to be straight with your accountants and bookkeepers. Make sure to tell them if you have neglected your books for a while. Give them access to account records and any transaction receipts you have. They can’t help you if you aren’t honest.
Set Up Communication Channels Early
We love to stress this point a lot because this is a significant pain point for a lot of people. As soon as possible, you want to establish what platforms to communicate with. If you prefer a particular platform, let them know. This way, they have time to learn the ins and outs of that platform.
Cost of Outsourcing Financial Services
These costs depend on how extensive your financial needs are. Below are some rates for common positions we found based on data from Upwork.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I ensure effective communication with an outsourced financial services provider?
Establish communication channels early. This also includes clarifying when to meet for regular updates.
What is the typical process for outsourcing financial services?
The process typically follows this pattern: Research –> Initial Interview –> Selection –> Onboarding –> Performance Monitoring
Can outsourcing financial services help with tax planning and preparation?
Sure! An outsourced accountant can make sure you have all the documents and papers you need for tax season. They can take the not-always fun process off your plate and save you from tax stress and potential errors.
Just make sure your accountant is fully knowledgeable about your country’s tax laws. International accountants may not be well-versed in the intricacies of local, federal, or state regulations. This is something to consider if you’re offshoring.
How do I choose the right financial services outsourcing provider?
You can try several out for a trial period and see which one is the best fit for your business. A lot of services offer free or discounted periods, so you can see if you like what they do.
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Free resources you might like:
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- Learn Outsourcing 101 | Guides, Downloads, and Checklists
Outsourcing financial services is a valid choice for businesses looking for a cost-effective solution. They can benefit from the flexibility and scalability this option offers. Though there are a few risks, we can mitigate these through careful selection and planning. Follow these best practices, and you’ll avoid a lot of hurt.