Leveraging Filipino talent: Going global without leaving home

SUITS THE C-SUITE By Arnel F. De Jesus

Business World (12/08/2014)

IN DAYS when Makati was still a 9-to-5 city, taxis knew their best chance at a late-night passenger would be outside the SGV & Co. offices. Like moths drawn to the few lights burning on Ayala long after the working day was done, cabs would queue outside the Firm’s buildings assured of a steady stream of passengers who had put in extra hours at the office.

More recently, however, the outsourcing/offshoring industry has turned the big city and many other parts of the country into 24-hour hives of bustling activity and has contributed significantly to the growth of employment and the country’s economy.

Having had this global mind-set since its founding 68 years ago, SGV — as the country’s largest professional services firm — has expanded the scope of its Asia-Pacific Talent Hub (ATH) beyond the region. It now services a worldwide network of clients.

ANTICIPATING NEW OPPORTUNITIES

At present, around 600 SGV professionals work in the ATH. The ATH is expected to quickly grow as it provides more complex, knowledge-based services such as IT systems reviews within the scope of auditing financial statements, preparation of US tax returns, and accounting for complex financial instruments. This is made possible as SGV collaborates within Ernst & Young’s (EY) network of member firms around the world.

More specifically, SGV has established an EY Global Talent Hub (GTH). So far, GTH centers are located in India, Argentina, and Poland. With this, the Philippines will now be part of a network which provides clients in over 80 countries around the world with accounting, tax, advisory, and transaction services.

GTH Manila will operate as a service exporter composed of Filipino professionals, and unlike traditional stand-alone offshoring centers, GTH staff will work as members of integrated global teams serving the needs of multinational clients. It offers an advantage to multinational clients as they are given access to world class talent at a competitive cost.

INVESTING IN PEOPLE

At the same time, the operation allows SGV to deepen training and further engage our people. They are given the opportunity to be exposed to global accounts by working in the ATH or in the soon-to-be established GTH. As their career progresses, they have the option of continuing on with the global accounts or of serving local clients. They may even find themselves in other EY offices abroad.

The model allows more Filipino professionals access to EY’s learning and development framework and even the opportunity to acquire internationally-accredited qualifications.

The set-up enhances the training and career growth of professionals in the country through exposure to cross-border, multi-competency work, without having to physically leave the country. It is also hoped that this will entice professionals seeking greener pastures overseas to reconsider their own backyard.

EXPANDING THE INDUSTRY

Finally, a truly robust business strategy requires a broader vision of expanding the industry so that the company will have room to grow. By offering such complex services to a more global market, SGV aims to reinforce the Philippines’ position as a player in the high value-added knowledge industry. One service already offered by the ATH even helps the BPO industry grow directly: the team assists multinational corporations “lift and shift” their financial processes so that they can set up their own shared services operations in the Philippines. In the long term, this bodes well for the knowledge industry, particularly when other countries start to compete in the voice services segment.

More importantly, it is hoped that this will create meaningful returns, particularly for local talent. The Filipino worker is no stranger to working overseas. Traditionally, global exposure has been in the form of a brain drain as workers search for opportunities not available in the Philippines.

However, with more operations like SGV’s talent hubs, it is hoped that export of services will be driven by knack, not need — that is, not by necessity of finding work abroad, but as a positive effect of the country’s competitive edge. The Filipino has long been at home with keeping up with demands of the world market, and now he can do that precisely where he or she is happiest — at home.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinion expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.

Arnel F. De Jesus leads the Asia-Pacific Talent Hub of SGV & Co.