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Keywords: shared services, finance shared services, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, CIMA, tax, accounting, finance
Susie West | News | 14 May 2012
There can be a number of reasons why a business considers setting up shared services centres, with cost reduction a major part of this decision. But shared services can also directly be of benefit to finance managers.
These employees, whose traditional role is to deal with tax, accounting and finance processing, can now move their focus and help to formulate a long-term strategic vision for their business, it has been claimed.
Supporting the use of shared services, John Windle, Chief Financial and Operating Officer of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, wrote an article for FinancialDirector.com saying that there is a growing demand from businesses for finance staff who can offer commercial insight and strategic thinking as well as traditional accounting skills.
But while financial matters still need to be carried out, Mr Windle says "one logical option is to take advantage of the opportunities of shared service centres and outsourcing so the retained finance function can devote more focus on collaborating with the rest of the organisation".
He explained that this creates a group of senior finance managers located onshore, with finance support coming offshore.
Locating shared services offshore does have some challenges, however, most notably the cultural changes that must be recognised by the business.
Another issue concerns the lack of technical skills from offshore facilities, although automating processes can help to eliminate any human error.
Mr Windle added that businesses must be selective about which services they collate. "It must not just be a cost play, but a quality play as well," he said.
Some financial directors can be reluctant to adopt shared services because of the implications it can have on the skilled workforce, but the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has stressed the areas in which their skills can be "liberated" for other means.
While the 'number-crunching' is done automatically, the unique skills of finance staff can analyse data to give insights on trends in behaviour and draw conclusions about risks, Mr Windle explained, as well as help to put strategic plans into practice.
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