Outsourcing - how far should you go? 13 September 2012

We arrived at Dartmouth House in the heart of Mayfair on this clear September morning for HFMWeek’s Breakfast Briefing on outsourcing. After some networking and pastries, we sat down to hear from the moderator, Peter Salvage from Citi Transaction Services, as he introduced the panel of four experts to discuss the merits of outsourcing.

A recurring theme throughout was that you should never relinquish all responsibility, even if the organisation to which you are outsourcing professes to be an expert in that field. One size does not fit all and it is about building a relationship whereby your provider knows and understands your business and the culture you have adopted. There must always be someone in house overseeing the process so that projects can be managed in the appropriate time frame and if things are veering off the tracks, there is someone to pull it back on course.

Another related theme was that you should never outsource a problem or something that is simply not working and then expect that it will get fixed, purely because you have outsourced to experts. You know your business better than them so you cannot expect service providers to work miracles on issues that need dealing with in house in the first instance.

The panelists from Knadel, Citi Private Bank, James Caird Asset Management and CapeView Capital, all shared the same view that they appreciate that outsourcing must take place and are actually skeptical of companies which say they do everything in house. How do they have enough expertise in every area if they are not exposed to other clients in their field on a daily basis? They agreed that outsourcers should be seen as part of your in house team and if it means paying a little more to get that personal service and dedication and the knowledge that they won’t cut corners, then it is certainly worth it. But do inform your clients and investors when outsourcing certain areas or changing service providers – they have a right to know and honesty is the key to good working relationships.

In summary, you should outsource to experts to get the best service for your clients, but you must never assume that you can outsource all responsibility. Invest time with your service providers so they understand your business and don’t be afraid to admit you outsource, as just about everybody does it to some degree, so be honest!

Susanna Robinson, Account Director

HFM Week logo