Though outsourcing has its detractors in the United States and pro-labor countries because of protectionism and/or grim economic prospects, many international credit professionals at FCIB's Annual International Credit & Risk Management Summit in Hamburg still rely on a shared services center or have more regularly come to establish their own new roots working in one.
FCIB Board Member Martine Zimmermann, credit manager at F. Hoffman-La Roche in Switzerland, noted many in her industry have centers in places like India and some Eastern bloc countries. However, having faced uncertainties, with the most notable ones being salary increases and frequently changing staff, she admits some colleagues are not quite as sold on it.
"This is especially an issue in India, where its known escalation as a key emerging economy is forcing a change in demographics, or at least demand from those who want to move up a rung amid newfound wealth, or for some, a livable wage," one credit executive at the conference noted during a question-and-answer session that intimated it might not be the right time to outsource anything more to India. "But there are still plenty of Asian and Middle Eastern areas drawing attention for the same reasons India did a few years ago: significant cost reduction."
Meanwhile, FCIB Board Member Henk Swinnen, of Netherlands-based DSM Shared Financial Service Center, defended the use of shared services centers. He noted," let's say the average rate is 7000 euros—if you increase it 10% per year, it's still much cheaper than Holland, and northern Europe." He added that his company was not outsourcing, "we're offshoring," and noted that after 10 years of use, a shared service center has been very positive.
Katarzyna Wawro of Hitachi Data Systems noted that she has been working in a shared service center, adding that, like many others, that satellite office of a foreign corporation started small and expanded after finding success. "Initially, we only did simple processes. Now everything for managing credit is there and we are doing all collection for Europe, Canada and the U.S.," Wawro said.
Not every delegate at the summit was without serious concerns, however. For example, panelist Raul Davila of New York-based Bamberger Polymers was among those who said complications with moving functions of the business farther and farther away from the main credit department hub can easily arise and oftentimes be harder to fix when thousands of miles away, or when they're operating on significant time differences, or in a vastly different cultural landscape.
- Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer