30 Sep 2020  |  1478

This is the Sixteenth Episode of our series #BKOT: Build a KickAss Offshore team. Watch this podcast about some common problems of offshore team provider and how you can change it with Chris Rivera, Shawn parikh & Sia Kal.




Hosted by:

Chris Rivera, Director Client Relations, Entigrity


Sia Kal, President, FY USA

Shawn Parikh, CEO, Entigrity Offshore Staffing


Chris: Hello everybody, happy friday I hope everyone's week has gone well and you've been safe and sound during this ongoing pandemic/ tax season. I'm very excited to meet with you. We are on Episode 16 of #BKOT how to build a kick ass offshore team, I have two special guests with me and we're going to be discussing the common reasons why you should be consider changing your offshore team provider and I have with me Shawn Parikh, Chairman of Entigrity and Mr Sia Kal, Managing Partner of FY USA so we're excited to get started and I'm going to turn it over to Sia.

Sia: Thank you Chris I appreciate the introduction and welcome everyone glad to have you the topic for today are some common reasons why you should consider changing your offshore team provider. By the way that doesn't mean that you should 100 it's just the operative word here is consider and that's because just like everything else in business you want to take a snapshot of how you are performing in each of the different areas of your business and based on the level of performance you need to make some adjustments that includes, how you operate your offshore team, and so as you can see I'm honored to join this this facebook live event with my colleague and friend Shawn as well so we hopefully can add some value if in case you are a firm that is currently receiving some offshoring services or even considering one this would be a good episode for you to hopefully gain some knowledge and information in terms of what things you should be really looking out for. So let me let me throw the first question out here right out of the gate to you Shawn in terms of you know when you encounter, when you come to a particular firm that already has an existing offshoring structure in place? What are some of these common issues and problems that would be the top two you keep hearing about in the and the experience you've had?

Shawn: So first of all thank you Sia, thanks Chris we are again back with our happy hour friday and well again I'm going to be very biased about this topic because the chair in which I'm sitting obviously makes me sound good and I'm going to talk about entigrity but I'll try to be as independent as I can in my point of view but as you say you know what are the two things that you commonly should consider while you are working with existing offshoring partner. 

First of all you know I come across this a lot when we initially start this relationship and there's a whole lot of due diligence process, I always tell this to people don't give up on offshoring even if you fail in first attempt, it's like a it's a good option but a bad partner maybe or a good option good partner but maybe a bad hire. So you don't give up hopes on things you know which are going to make or help you make a future for your firm that's the first disclaimer I want to put in before I give you exact things that don't give up on offshore staffing for your firm in general or anybody else.

Sia: If I can use an analogy for what you just said and I'll let you get back to the rest of the things you were saying but it's almost like when you go to a restaurant and you eat some bad food and you get sick and then you don't stop going to restaurants because you just had bad food or another example if you've you know if you reflect back to your dating relationships the first person who broke your heart you didn't say I'm done with human beings that said I'm just going to surround myself with pets and move on so anyway. 

Shawn: So one thing that I always want you to consider whether you are joining in or you're already in a relationship with an existing partner. Are they exclusive to the accounting industry? And let me tell you why I'm saying this there are local accounting firms in any of these countries whether India or any other developing countries doing this they take up this as part-time jobs so there are local accounting and CPA firms who whose full-time business is to cater domestic clients in their world are trying to take this and make money out of this, or there are other I.T companies and engineering companies who take up you know because they are into offshore staffing for IT businesses or you know other service-based businesses: customer service and voice chat support they end up taking roles or they think that naturally extending their business to accounting industry is fine.
So one of the important things you have to evaluate is your partner should be fully focused on what he is doing and that's where you you have the specialization because if we talk about us here, we have the full fledge taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, and it changes you need to know technology is changing, tax law is changing, so you need to keep up to date just like in the I.T world. Technologies are changing so you need to learn new technologies every time so you need to have a specialization. We have 1000 in-house built modules and the whole training ecosystem so specialization is very important, the exclusivity focus in the industry is, according to me, very important. 

Sia: Yeah specialty within the accounting industry definitely goes a long way. Chris what about you? I mean you've talked to a lot of accounting firms and you've encountered them in different stages of where they are within their offshoring other than what Shawn has just mentioned, what other common issues you can encounter when you talk to them.

Chris: Yeah it's just to touch on what Shawn said and  what I hear quite a bit. We get a lot of questions on you about what's the difference with you and manpower or upwork or a local temp agency there's a lot of differences because of the exclusivity. So I absolutely agree with that and don't give up on the concept. Recently too there's been dozens of calls where they start off they know about offshoring and they're just angry and after talking with me. I  let them know the differences and how we can overcome them and what went wrong and how we can fix it with us. So yeah never give up but one thing I noticed is that they need advanced skills, they're happy with their offshoring company but they just they're capped out and they can't find the senior level for tax accounting or bookkeepers and now they're searching around they should have being exclusive you should have a full pledge of staff available so that's one thing to keep in mind for an advanced skill set.

Sia: That's interesting so the talent pool is the issue right with some of them and that could be a problem because frankly the talent pool is an issue regardless offshoring or onshoring  right. So if you are dealing with an offshoring company provider that has a bigger talent pool ready to go that's definitely more attractive to someone who really has some immediate needs and frankly is ready to scale up their offshoring, so interesting so that that brings up sort of one as Shawn mentioned area of expertise being focused on accounting. Second thing that you mentioned is ofcourse the talent pool and being able to scale up the level of team talent they have and of course both of you highlighted that don't give up just because it didn't work, it doesn't mean that offshoring is not that offshoring doesn't work.

Shawn: Well me and Chris could be bias as I said we have a little perspective bias on this but if I ask you because you have seen everything, I mean independently from a perspective which is just in the interest of accounting firm so you have worked with hundreds and thousands of accounting firm and at the same time a lot of offshoring partner and you have one out of you know multiple services as you provide offshore staffing implementation or offshore team implementation is one of your elements of your service so what do you think you perceive while you advise?

Sia:  Yeah this is very on point question Shawn this may surprise our listeners because one of the things that I've encountered is that a lot of the firms actually go with a specific provider because they're more expensive than the other providers and naturally when you buy a watch depending on what it is if you're paying a lot of money for it and you're expecting that it will work for at least a certain number of years and you'll come with a warranty and that kind of thing and you know certain expectations with a price stack that we're all accustomed too. So even though even though offshoring it's part of many benefits that it has is that it actually gives you bigger margins, it helps you on your profitability because your cost of labor is going to go down even though that is one of many key components of an offshoring benefit but nevertheless I come across very sophisticated firms who purposely picked not perhaps the cheapest of the bunch and to their surprise their expectation was that well then. We're going to get what we pay for and the reality is not necessarily the case and so what ends up happening is that they still suffering through getting quality talent. There's a little bit of dis-organization in the way things are happening there's not a collaboration with the firm and the offshoring provider and a combination of that it really puts a bad taste in their mouth especially when they start off with having such a high expectation.
So with that in mind it becomes, it just throws out this notion that hey I'm going to get something better if I just spent a little bit more money on it right, that may work in certain situations but not perhaps in offshoring in other areas or that may be true depending on talent by talent. It's sometimes determined that way but that has been the biggest revolution that them realizing that oops we thought we're gonna pay more and we're going to get better but we're not so if we're spending this much and we're not getting what we want then where do we go from here.

Shawn: I think what you're saying makes absolute sense and at our scale and operations  we are one of the most  reasonably priced company and you know our pricing Sia and you were pleasantly surprised when I shared that with you and Chris has been insisting on me and one of my other business development manager, they are really pushing on me that we don't get any questions on pricing why don't you increase and so well one of the reasons I don't want to increase is we want to make it affordable to everyone  that's as simple as that I want to work with. In my philosophy I want to work with 5000 firms, if I can work instead of 500. So  that's a simple philosophy I have I want to scale we want to scale and see one of the fundamental objectives of starting this company was that we want to make the talent pool available to smallest of the firm, that was the most important objective when we started this business which was only available to the big four and the larger ones and the whole privileged club out there right who had played pockets, so we always wanted this that it should be made available.  And second thing why our prices and margins are reasonable, we are a long term player. Those people who have a risk of losing an account want to make money upfront or you know the six months time, three months time we know that we are going to make little money but you know it is going to be forever. So at the same time when you have a reasonable pricing we are in service-based business so whether you want to accept that reality or and you don't want to talk about it there are going to be challenges and issues because you it is, it is not like you have 10 elements that you're going to provide and there's 19.99 a month it is a service based business where your expectations your communications, your things are not completely defined in a single page scope of work or scope of engagement.  There are going to be a little preparations so if you want to survive in a relationship let it start on a low base and then go high so if you build one on a high start on a high base and then it becomes unaffordable so even some of our mistakes that we make along the road which typically anyone would make in any relationship whether onshore or offshore are absorbed and taken positively just because we we have that margin, that headroom, that people can tolerate us so price is not just a number it's about the value that we are providing.

Sia: Yeah no doubt! So first to someone, shawn who thinks how are you able because for anyone one of the reasons for them considering switching their offshoring provider could be that they're not really getting the quality they expected. In my case with the firms I have known over the years because of the amount that they've been spending on those offshoring team they were not the cheapest and so they were not getting the quality so if we are focused on quality here, the question comes in that how can entigrity grab good talent but keep the cost low in a way that doesn't impact the quality of the talent we get because that's the pain point, it's not the price that is a pain point is the quality there's a pain point. It doesn't hurt to get better pricing but it's the talent that is the issue so what if you can give us some examples of how entigrity ensures the quality of your team that would I think that would be very helpful to me and so many others.

Shawn: Well that's a mystery everyone wants to understand so that's the secret sauce with which we run the show but it's not that secret. I think two simple things on one side: the culture that we run with, and how the team is on our backend side. I always quote this example to everyone that you hire accountants, you are in accounting industry, you end up hiring accountants, so accountants will think like accountant that I have done my work this is the excuse if i have not been able to do the work it took a lifetime for me when I say lifetime not literally lifetime but at least two-three years to transform the mindset of the people working in the team that you are not accountant, you are customer relationship executive. You are not here to do accounting and tax work you are here to solve problems of your clients, one of those problems is to get the tax work done so this is the fundamental shift that we needed which probably we are to an extent we we have to an extent achieved  so that's one fundamental shift that team had a culture. Chris was there in our last annual meeting where we launched Entigrity 2.0.

So the transformation and to teach this to accountants was a hell of a job so we started with customer focus, customer centricity and it took it to a level where our central mantra or our central thing is customer obsession. So that's one of the key things that we have been able to survive how the cost in working capital that's a simple thing we are working on economies of scales our second biggest competitor in our space is one seventh or one eighth in size so of course outside India there are few but in India if you talk about which has the best time zone matching difference, best demographic matching difference with U.S and Canada. We are the largest player with our size in the CPA and accounting space so on the price front is sheer economics that works in our favor but in terms of culture quality there are several things but one of the critical things was to bring that transformation in how you look at the things.

Sia: I got the mindset. Now when you were talking about Entigrity 2.0 launch, there was a big smile from ear to ear on Chris's face so I'm not sure how much of a great time he had but apparently that that was a good time for him.

Chris: Yeah I was there 60 days, that was my best day there for sure. 

Sia: Good! Customer obsession that is I actually think that is your secret sauce so I don't know maybe we should take this off of facebook live after we finished because that is the secret sauce and here's the reason why I tell you this because there is this very common struggle with people who are firms who are actually using offshoring that they kind of get a sense that the the offshore team is they they act a little bit more a little bit mechanical, if we don't give exact point by point direction that then it doesn't happen right that there's no ownership on the offshore team to make sure that we're getting things to the finish line that they were actually providing things. We're catching things wherever they need to because not everything can be instructed not everything can be given in a training for there are things that the team needs to just catch.There are things that team needs to look for and that comes from the change mindset with of course experience but also attitude in terms of taking ownership and saying look I gotta be obsessed about this client behind this this paperwork this file and in order to provide them good customer care then I need to take ownership of this and frankly well what I think we should take this video off I actually think it because this is really the bottom line this is the secret coca-cola coke that recipe that I think everyone has been looking for but it really is that way can you think of a particular example either Chris or Shawn, I'll just pose this  to either one of you of that specific example that you are aware of with one of your teammates.

Shawn: I'll tell you a very small story a recent one and some of the team some of the people listening to this would be able to relate this, one of our team members in India if you let me just give a little background on this, India was under complete lockdown for about 60 days because of the pandemic entire April and entire May and some portion of March when when is a complete lockdown accept groceries and pharmaceuticals and hospitals nothing is open, practically nothing no public transportation, no unlike what we have in America where a lot of other things are working government offices no strict no nothing, no courts, no government offices so it was like complete curfew what we say or a complete lockdown and internet is still a big challenge in India at least in some parts of India.Yes some of our clients about 80% of our clients allowed work from home one of our team members was working from home so we made a quick transition and we took the PCs home we made the securities out there and we changed and the client which allowed work from home we started working. Now one team member I would not name him but he was working from home hasn't his internet was fluctuating so this happened two days continuously, third day what he did was in this lockdown in midnight he traveled to  the office he set up his computer there locked down the office because you cannot legally open the office, he locked down the office and he locked himself in the office and he started working from office.

So now he's working for the client because again the workflow was there we were in the season and people were coming in and so things were pumping I mean you know popping up for that phone so what he was every day he was locking himself in the office, if you go outside the office with the profession and he used to work inside the way he used to travel to the office I mean I have not told this to that client he used to travel from smaller places where he can actually escape from those cops checking him and the advantage was he was really one mile away from the office so he can come in but still to think he could have easily said that you know I will not work or i'll work on internet capacity easy way out.
So  there are several stories like this where we think that what we have achieved is because of the team members and the support of our clients so this two months if you ask me in  20 years history of entigrity next fast forward this two months are going to be one of the highlights one of the top five moments in the history of 20 years of entigrity where we
as a team really kind of made that case study where we transition everything to home and still kept the show on and thanks to some of those clients who really accepted and kept the faith going you know you work this with these people and we trust them with what they are doing.

Sia: As a sort of a public service announcement if you are listening and you have an offshore team I would highly recommend that you would be flexible with any sort of work from home situation because it's frankly that situation even comes up on short not just offshore right and we still not we're still in it, we don't know yet depending on where you are in the country so you know as you were telling me the story, tell me Chris if you were if you weren't thinking that this is a great script for a movie right. It had all these sort of excitements and all the sacrifice and danger that the employee was easily doing. 

Chris: Employee just not taking care of the client they're like hey I don't have internet what do I do. No he risked a lot say risk quite a bit but I mean that's the mindset and the culture of the team and so that's amazing to hear.

Sia: I don't know there's the thing is that I don't know if I know a lot of team members on shore that would be willing to do that let alone. So let's just be real about it, i know we're just the three of us here no one's anything other than the 10 million that is watching us right now, I think that's very admirable and I know that if you have a provider with an offshoring team that's the kind of level of commitment and care that you're hoping to get and what do you want to say Chris?

Chris: I just feel like clients at times just become complacent with who they're working wit they just accept hey this is what I'm gettin, I'm paying this whether it's low or high and they just like there's nothing else I can do there's a lot you can do there's so many options whatever you look at, type of product or service never be complacent don't just accept.
In fact, there's so many better options so don't ever be complacent.
Sia: Yeah don't endure for just the sake of enduring there's no harm in equipping yourself with full knowledge of your options if you are listening to this webcast here I encourage you to equip yourself. Knowledge is power and you really don't know what your options are without really reaching out and asking for help. 

Shawn: Well one more thing if you see this is really I mean one thing that typically people don't consider which is very important this is like a partnership so it is not like you're going for a window shopping even if you end up buying something it's okay, this is a real partnership. Partner with someone who is progressive who is forward-looking if you want your firm to progress, if you want your firm to grow partner with someone who is you know ready to you know look at problems that you face it's not just about a sign up of a contract right, what happens after that you talk about problems, you talk about how the firms operate, how we can better the operations how we can mold our offshore team so it is a real partnership. One quality which always needs and you can really verify from you know the social media and how the firm operates and their experience and things like that you can really see that that how this company is you know and second thing the culture well today you can easily verify anything from social media so how this company operates in terms of culture how they treat their team members as they are going to treat you.

Chris: Sometimes clients have said that they haven't been able to call their employee only email or they can own that no video calls are allowed I mean if you're in that situation that's a red flag I mean it's your employee they're working for you why can't you see or talk to them I mean I'd be skeptical of that.

Sia: Yeah I'm gonna with both of your permission I'm gonna disclose something that I know from being on this side and looking internally at your operations I have been doing this long enough in terms of helping accounting firms improve their business performance for most of my career and so I've come across a good range of offshoring providers and just like anything else in life there are some out there that have the appearance that the employees are happy have the appearance that they got things together but it's only when you start actually working with them and you see behind the scenes and by the way there's a lot of different areas of the world and different company cultures that are they don't appear oppressive but they're very oppressive meaning that the employees don't feel free the freedom to express how they truly feel so they go along with this this sort of this promotion that yes they're happy when in fact once you get it once you go a level deeper you realize they're really not and the reason why that's important is because truly genuine happy people do great work they love coming to work and they do great work and what I said with your permission what I want to share with them is that internally what I've witnessed in dealing with some of your employees and seeing how things work sort of behind the scenes there's a genuine sense of care and happiness there is a genuine sense of hope and we're all alive with hope it's not just being happy for the sake of being happy, it's really having joy in what you do and it's just been really privileged I get a lot of help from from your team. Communication phenomenal, phenomenal and that's one other thing that I've seen in terms of common issues that makes you consider using other offshoring providers is communication just exact precise clear crystal communication and some of the communications I've gotten from your team has just been like I'm like, this is fantastic, this takes me back to providing writing legal briefs and you know in terms of how thorough it is and it's almost like a court reporting right, that's how it is just dropping a line here just giving a shout out talking about Allen but anyway there is any conclusions or any summary thoughts that you wanna share before we wrap this up guys.

Shawn: Well I think we should make an important announcement of accountable well we are inviting most of our clients to accountable so we are doing a conference together  you will see us there and it is a must attend conference for every accounting firm who is looking to kind of you know see forward and take their firm to the next level. I know it sounds cliche but take their team to the next level not just firm so we are doing that in November in partnership with FY USA and of course  FY USA is the main anchor and thanks Sia  for letting us to be part of this conference and we are really looking forward to it. If you want to kind of make an announcement of dates and everything I'll leave it to you.

Sia: Sure thank you Shawn well you know what teamwork makes the dream work and it's really a fruit of all, everyone involved and their constant support and caring and promoting and designing and putting together it's a big task a heavy load but with with great reward and our reward really is comes in this format that we have an opportunity to make an impact in the lives of those who are seeking to improve their business performance and what I want to tell you is that look it's not about hype, it's not about flash it's not about let me just make you feel better about things is taking up you know Shawn said we're obsessed over customers well, the event is obsessed over diagnostic over having a real understanding of what's happening at the core of your business and putting a structure in place that is break by break is done systematically  so that you can scale up and if you already skill up you can go and improve and grow your business but do it responsibly where it's sustainable and it's not a you know silver bullet it is a two-day event it is on the November 12th and 13th however it's not gonna feel like two days it's gonna zip by really fast it's not one of those things you sit back and just watch people speak for two days, there's actual workshop I know Shawn you're going to be involved Chris you're going to be there and we have we've lined up some very impressive workshop and speakers leaders in the industry that I think will make a big impact and just to put your mind at ease in case you're just curious about it comes with a money back guarantee we put our money where our mouth is and we want to extend the invitation to you please join us and allow us to make an impact for your team and your clients.

Chris: All right so again thank you everybody for joining hope you learned quite a bit about the concept of offshoring and making sure that you are with the right partner my lighting team has put a spotlight on entigrity it's the sunlight so gotta adjust that a little bit but again have a great weekend everybody we will be with you within a couple weeks again and I hope to talk to some of you guys soon and that's about it. So just for the registrations. Thank you Bye Bye.

Entigrity™ is a trusted offshore staffing partner to over 500+ accountants, CPAs and tax firms across the US and Canada. Our flexible and transparent hiring model gives helps firms of all sizes to hire staff for accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation or any other task for 75% less cost. As a firm 'run by accountants, for the accountants', Entigrity captures the hiring needs of accounting firms most precisely, providing staff that works directly under your control and management, still you are left with least to worry about compliance, payroll taxes, overheads or any other benefits.

About The Author
Director, Client Relations

Christopher Rivera, Chris serves as a Director of Client Relations and Business Development at Entigrity. He is an expert at leading and managing teams actively from the front. His expertise in sales, training, coaching, mentoring and influencing combined with his competitive nature makes him a strong leader.  Chris has traveled through the length and width of the country and has spoken with more than five thousand CPAs, understanding their challenges and limitations. On the grounds of that, he can now easily provide opinions and solutions that can be immensely helpful to the professionals. He has also represented Entigrity at a number of major accounting conferences and networking events.

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