The outlook for the global Financial Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) industry is bright and rich with opportunities said experts at a recent joint breakfast briefing on “Finance Transformation - Expert Insights on Finance Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) and Shared Services Outsourcing (SSO)” jointly organized by Ernst & Young, ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association of Software and Services Companies) held at the Kingsbury Hotel.

Making one of the two keynote addresses at the event on the ‘Outlook for FAO Industry’, Executive Director of SLASSCOM Imran Furkan, cited research by reputed research firm HfS Research calculated the global FAO market at the end of 2013 around USD 25 billion and forecasted a growing to USD 34 billion by 2017. He stated, selected industries such like Telecom, Software & Hi Tech, Media & Publishing and the Public Sector industries are some of the biggest potential sectors of growth in the FAO industry. Also added, managing change, altering the mindset of leadership from cost reduction to value creation and accomplishing innovation with operating processes are the key items of the global FAO agenda at present. He said, SLASSCOM is ambitious in the goals of the Local IT/BPM Industry to generate USD 5 billion in export revenue, 200,000 job availabilities and 1,000 new tech start-ups.

The second keynote was delivered by Praveen Ruberu, Senior Director Accounting Compliance & Reporting - Ernst & Young and Member of the General Council - SLASSCOM. His address was based on ACCA research document titled “Finance transformation: Expert insights on shared services and outsourcing which shared the opinion of global experts in the finance transformation, shared services and outsourcing space and the insights of finance leaders responsible for reshaping the finance function as well as who explore the issues with the providers of finance and accounting services to their clients.

Ruberu went on to discuss three local case studies of clients where finance transformation under shared services and outsourcing were done by Ernst & Young and of a family owned bookshop chain, a global apparel manufacturer and a renowned sports club where the business value to all stakeholders were delivered via finance transformation under shared services and outsourcing.

During the panel discussion, many challenging questions were addressed by the large eminent audience. Out of many questions discussed, potential workforce challenges was identified as a key challenge of the IT/BPM industry in order to reach its targets by 2022 and received great attention.

AHL Business Solutions, Head of Business Systems and Services, Deepthie Wickramasuriya said although it is difficult to attract talent in a competitive labor market, great potential exists in the student population to fill the seats. She stated, “The perception here is that we lack people to service the sector to take to 2022 target, but from a recent study reveals there are people with wider experience available and it is just that most of us try to tap resources that are easily accessible. If you really look, there is a huge untapped resource pool of students who have passed out from school and as a community if, we collaborate and give a proper training to them, I think we have the resources. I think if we go for trained resources, there is a dearth since the qualified people leave the country for greener pastures.”