Outsourcing a new opportunity

Delegates at next year’s Business Outlook conference will have a feast of information to digest with regard to where Cayman’s economy is heading in the coming year and beyond.

Ted Fishman, author of China Inc. and the keynote speaker will give a presentation on the subject of outsourcing manpower to the likes of China where labour is cheaper and the impact this could have on Cayman’s economy.

At a press briefing for the conference, Michael Anderson, vice president and chief financial officer at Fidelity (the conference organiser and main sponsor) said that representatives from Fidelity had read China Inc. carefully and found its message thought-provoking and one that businesses in the Cayman Islands should take heed of.

He said that businesses here could appreciate and embrace the need for outsourcing or offshoring part of their business as a financially sound move. The consequences of not making that move are that businesses here could see competitors move in that direction themselves and threaten Cayman’s economy.

Anderson defined outsourcing as the process of using overseas, cheaper labour pools to undertake work such as administrative and IT services.

Offshoring was the establishment by local companies of offices overseas to ensure that businesses in key geographical locations were undertaking business on the spot using local talent in that area.

Anderson continued that outsourcing or offshoring of business does not necessarily have to take place in developing nations where labour is cheap.

He said that in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, businesses based in Cayman proved they could operate in other off- and onshore jurisdictions with ease and speed, and this should be viewed as an opportunity for the business community here in Cayman.

It was explained that a mindset needed to be changed with regard to labour pools in jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands.

With business such as mutual funds expanding, and therefore business staffing needs increasing at a corresponding rate, jurisdictions should welcome qualified staff to these regions with open arms.

This influx of talent should be looked at as an opportunity to expand business, not a threat to the local workforce. The real threat to the local workforce was other competing jurisdictions will quickly snap up that business, if new talent is not welcomed.

Brett Hill, president at Fidelity said it was his perception that while Cayman would continue to provide the face-to-face customer contact for clients conducting business in the Cayman Islands, the outsourcing of administrative and back office work would be a definite sensible move for business here.

Fidelity is considering a consolidation of its administrative business within the next six months to one single jurisdiction.

Again, this should be recognised as an opportunity for business, not a threat, as Hill noted that, far from meaning a reduction in staff, this reorganisation would mean the business would be able to expand more easily.

Organisers said that they were looking forward to hosting the conference at the new Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman resort, the first major local conference for the upscale resort, as its facilities would ensure comfortable and spacious accommodation for the 300 or so delegates expected to attend.