The UK accounting industry has gotten enormously competitive over the last decade. Alongside enterprise-level firms, small and medium-sized accountancy practices compete to attract new clients by incorporating new services and technologies. But is it always enough?
Modern accountancy firms are faced with numerous challenges. Right from the growing staffing crisis to the rising inflation, the wicked Great Resignation and the ongoing recession – there’s too much that accountants are currently dealing with. This has given a significant boost to outsourcing, with several accountants choosing to partner with top service providers to delegate part or whole of their accounting tasks.
A recent study by Cybercrew revealed that over 73% of accountants in the UK approve of outsourcing. Of the total survey respondents from diverse industries, 71% cited cost reduction as the primary motivator for outsourcing. Thus, outsourcing is the next big thing in the accounting world and a trend to look out for in the coming years.
Many accountants, however, believe outsourcing refers to delegating tasks offshore. While offshore outsourcing is the most popular form, accountants can also choose to have outsourced resources working onshore. This practice is referred to as onshore support, a rapidly rising trend in the accounting world.
On this page, we will decode the concept of onshore support and provide a 360-degree outlook for growing accountancy practices.
Onshore support is the practice of outsourcing a firm’s services to a third-party organisation with its resources within the same country. While outsourcing allows you to hire talent from any corner of the world, onshore support enables companies to have these extended resources (or teams) work from their designated office.
Accounting firms in the UK are currently battling a severe talent crisis. While hiring new resources has become more difficult than ever, staff retention is equally challenging in the face of the Great Resignation. Therefore, UK accountancy practices often hire resources from top outsourcing destinations like India and the Philippines, which offer a vast talent pool at relatively lower costs.
However, with these resources located offshore, accountants may sometimes face communication and reporting gaps. To deal with these issues, onshore accounting support is a highly viable solution.
Onshore support lets accountants hire resources easily and have their extended team working right from their office. It is as good as having a second team of accountants alongside your in-house teams, minus the time and effort of managing them.
Now that you understand the meaning of onshore support, let’s explore how it differs from offshore outsourcing.
Offshore outsourcing is the process of outsourcing a firm’s operations to a third party outside the company and beyond geographical boundaries. In this case, the outsourced resources working for your team are based offshore and work out of a delivery centre. The most common offshore outsourcing destinations for UK accounting firms are India and the Philippines.
On the other hand, onshore support lets you hire resources from top offshore destinations and have them work from your geographical location. Many accountancy practices in the UK outsource onshore staffing for accounting owing to its numerous benefits. This model is particularly ideal for accountants and practice owners who are cynical about losing control over their operations when outsourced to an offshore destination.
So, which form of outsourcing is best for your firm? Well, it depends on your goals and requirements.
Outsourcing, in itself, is a profitable solution for accountancy practices. If your goal is to have certified professionals assist you on a short-term project, offshore outsourcing is the most viable solution. However, accountants looking to build a robust team alongside their in-house team to meet and manage clients in person must consider onshore accounting support.
Outsourcing is highly effective in boosting a practice’s efficiency and profitability. However, onshoring provides an added advantage to growing practices in multiple ways. Let’s explore some of the common onshore accounting benefits for businesses.
Easy coordination: Unlike offshore services, onshore accounting support facilitates easy communication and coordination with your extended team. You can have your entire team working from your office or just a few selected resources join you at your location. The onshore resources then act as a bridge between your practice and the offshore team, making operations smoother and hassle-free.
Besides, with onshore support, you do not have the risk of miscommunication or communication gaps. Onshore resources are also well-versed in the onshore destination’s native language and culture, changing legislation, and much more.
Greater safety: One of the major reasons some accountants refrain from outsourcing is security concerns. Many accountants deem transferring data overseas a security risk. Onshore accounting services, however, completely eliminate the risk of data transfer to third-party servers.
When you hire onshore accountants, they work from your official workplace. This means you do not have to transfer any data overseas or to third-party servers. The staff stores, accesses, and manages data on your secure server, thus eliminating any chance of data leaks or thefts.
Better control: As discussed earlier, onshore accounting support is ideal for accountants who like having complete control of their practice and operations. Since your extended team works right with you in your office, communication and reporting are smooth. You are constantly aware of the progress of tasks and can speak to your team whenever required. This allows practice owners and partners to be in more power, thus facilitating high-quality work.
On-ground client support: As a practice managing several clients, you will face instances when your customers want to have in-person meetings with your team. This would be highly challenging if your extended team is based offshore. You can certainly have them visit your office for a limited duration, but that would include a lot of time, cost, and logistical support.
Onshore support, on the other hand, allows you to have in-person meetings and discussions with clients whenever required. With this solution, you get instant on-ground client support, thus facilitating better client relations and satisfaction.
Cost savings: We already know that most accounting firms in the UK outsource their services to save costs and maximise profits. Hiring onshore staffing for accounting is not only cheaper than employing an in-house resource but also provides you with a vast talent pool to choose from.
Alongside its pros, onshore support comes with certain challenges. Some of them are listed below.
Admin and infrastructure costs: Unlike offshore outsourcing, onshore support comes with additional expenses, including administrative and infrastructure costs. Since the staff works from your office, you must provide them with a work desk, a computer system, and other necessary support. Thus, onshore accounting services can be relatively more expensive than offshore outsourcing.
Less flexibility: It is a well-known fact that outsourcing provides tremendous flexibility to accounting firms. One of the reasons accountants outsource is to have backup resources or an extended team available to work when they are off for festivals and holidays. This ensures work isn’t hindered and deadlines are met efficiently.
But when your extended team works from your office, they take the same days off as you and your team, they take the same days off as you and your team. This may result in less flexibility and your outsourced resources may no longer serve as backups to cover your off days.
Management challenges: An onshore accounting team can be difficult to manage than an offshore team. If you are a growing practice, you may not have the resources to manage an onshore team alongside your in-house staff.
Moreover, if you have only a part of the team onshore and an extended team working from an offshore destination, it may be difficult to keep track of both.
While challenges are eternal, how they are dealt with depends largely on the service provider you partner with. All the above challenges of onshore support can be eliminated by partnering with an efficient and reliable service provider.
Have you ever encountered issues with integrating your in-house and extended teams? Several accountancy practice owners report this as one of the key challenges they face when onboarding outsourced resources. Therefore, it is important to focus on this area.
Onboarding and integration are key to making your onshore support association successful. But this may not be as easy as offshore outsourcing.
When you hire onshore accountants, they share office space, resources, and workload with your in-house teams. While this facilitates easy coordination, it may get challenging if your in-house teams are hostile to the change.
Therefore, before onboarding your onshore counterparts, speak to your in-house teams and prepare them for the oncoming change. Distribute responsibilities consistently among the teams and set clear goals.
Here are some quick tips to onboard your onshore staff and integrate them with your in-house team:
Lastly, if a part of your team is also working offshore alongside your onshore team, establish a single point of contact for easy coordination. Hiring onshore staffing for accounting allows you to bridge the gap between your practice and offshore teams.
Making the decision to move from offshore to onshore support may not be easy. Whether you move your entire extended team onshore or only a few FTEs (full-time employees), the decision requires strategic planning and consideration.
In addition, a lot also depends on your outsourcing partner and the kind of support they provide If you have decided to switch to onshore accounting and want to move your offshore staff ashore, here’s a quick checklist of questions you must ask your outsourcing partner.
Are you looking for dedicated accounting staff to join your team onshore? Try our exclusive Onshore Support solution crafted for growing practices.
A pioneer in global accounting outsourcing, QXAS has a vast experience of 12+ years in the accounting industry. Alongside our offshore FTE model, we now offer onshore support solutions for practices seeking a hands-on approach to accounting. The services covered under this model include accounting and bookkeeping, tax preparation, payroll, and audit support services.
We have a dedicated team of 1000+ highly professional and certified accountants ready to work from client locations in the UK. These professionals specialise in the latest software and technology and have up-to-date knowledge of UK accounting legislation.
Every QXAS accountant undergoes rigorous training at the QX Academy, making them an excellent fit for onshore opportunities. In addition, we provide complete support with onshoring resources, thus facilitating a successful outsourcing partnership.
To learn more about our onshore accounting model, call us at +44 208-146-0808, drop an email at [email protected], or book a free consultation with one of our outsourcing providers. To learn more about our services, log on to Outsourced Accounting, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services | QXAS UK.
Get the monthly QXAS newsletter with curated content just for you