This Big 4 Auditor found a million-dollar opportunity in US Outsourced Auditing services: How he did it.
US offshore outsourcing industry saw a boom in 2020, creating opportunities for Indian Accountants and Auditors. See how this chartered accountant started managing back-office work for a US CPA Firm.
- CA Ankur Sharma aspired to become a Big 4 Partner, but some personal reasons made him rethink his decisions.
- In 2020, he discovered an opportunity in the US offshore outsourcing industry for Indian accountants and auditors.
- See how Ankur started leading the back-office operations for Kreit & Chiu, a US CPA firm.
From the ninth standard, I was fascinated with numbers.
Mathematics, Accounts, and Economics were my favorite subjects in 11th standard, hence it was clear I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant.
Getting into PwC, or any Big 4 firm for that matter, is everyone’s dream. It helps you develop your career in a different way.
This was one of the reasons why I decided to go to PwC for my articleship.
One day when the Assurance Leader at PwC India asked us, “Who wants to be a partner at the firm?” I was one of the few who raised their hands.
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2011 and joined them full-time in the Audit and Assurance line of service.
In 2014, I got the chance to go to PwC UK, in Reading on secondment. It was one of the best things that happened to me.
Initially, I was an introvert and not so well-spoken. But a Partner at the UK firm helped me get out of my shell. I became more confident in giving presentations and even led a few Audit Committee meetings.
The two years with the UK firm were fantastic. They wanted me to continue in the UK, but I had to return to India for my family.
I soon became a Manager at PwC India. Everything was going according to plan.
But two years down the line I realized that I was working too much. It started affecting my health. Then I asked myself that crucial question, “Do I want to run in the rat race?”
Further, I was turning into a less confident person which I did not like it.
I needed to get my health back on track and stay true to myself. These were the two reasons why I resigned from PwC after about 11 years.
From PwC Audit to EY Global Delivery Services
I heard from several of my friends and colleagues that EY Global Delivery Services is a good place to work at.
You won’t have to stretch your working hours and the workload is lighter on weekends. So, I said, “Why don't I give it a try?”
I moved to EY GDS in 2018.
(EY GDS was established to provide support to EY's country practice offices. Maintaining employees at EY's US office can be costly, which is why certain business processes are outsourced to EY GDS to increase profitability.)
Many people think that working for back office operations does not help you grow in your career. But I believed that it is about identifying what you want to gain from the opportunity and learning from it.
- I learned more about project management
- Handled a 70-people team.
- Traveled to the US to implement the Health Sciences & Wellness (HS&W) Sector Assurance team within EY GDS.
- Learned about the US market
- Learned the nuances of the EY GDS business, be it Human Resources, or Administrator operations.
Everything was going great, until suddenly I had a stroke in April 2020, which left my right side paralyzed and speech impaired. Thankfully, with God’s grace and blessings from my loved ones, I recovered in 6 months.
This made me rethink what I wanted to do.
In October 2020, I noticed a boom in the US offshore outsourcing industry. Almost every single US CPA Firm was looking to manage their costs, searching for resources that could deliver good quality work.
There was a huge opportunity for Indian Accountants and Auditors.
How I am managing Kreit and Chiu’s India Operations
Looking back, I always thought about setting up my own company.
I started learning about the US market a little more. One day, I randomly wrote to a few US CPA firms and asked them if I could provide Audit support services to them.
One CPA firm quickly got on board with the idea and agreed to sign up; Benjamin & Ko. (now Kreit & Chiu). They were a startup back then, with a team of 10-15 members in the US.
My leader at EY GDS was supportive and encouraged me to do what I wanted to do as an entrepreneur.
I started my company in June 2021, with the sole motive of providing Audit support services to different US CPA firms. However, Kreit & Chiu wanted exclusivity. So, I took a step back and decided to help them grow their business.
We are now a part of the global network of Kreit & Chiu CPA LLP, operating as Benjamin Accountants and Advisors Private Limited.
Here’s how we provide the best service to them.
Quality of work:
- One of the main concerns of a CPA firm outsourcing Audit support services is the quality of the work. They want the quality to be on par with the Big 4s.
- From June to July 2021, I handled all their outsourced work. But in August I decided to hire two seniors as the work increased. They have been of great help to me.
- We spent about 15-16 hours a day, ensuring that we produced good-quality work.
- The second requirement of the CPA firm is cost-effectiveness.
- If I am spending the same amount of time completing a task, as the US firm, then it is not going to help them grow as an organization.
- We understand their concern and make sure that we do the work efficiently while not compromising on quality.
- We use firewalls, proper security applications, VPN, and the same cloud software as the US firm to maintain the confidentiality and safety of the client’s data.
We have done complex derivative accounting, accounting for warrants, special purpose acquisition companies, and business combinations (A business combination is an entity controlling one or more businesses).
In March 2021, Kreit & Chiu had a revenue of USD 700,000, and now they are close to becoming a USD 5 Mn firm. The firm has changed significantly in just two years and we are happy to be a part of it.
Starting an outsourced Audit business in India
Recently an article came out, stating that over 300,000 Accountants and Auditors in the US have quit their jobs in the past two years.
India has a tremendous amount of talent to spare. If you are a Chartered Accountant and want to start a company to provide Audit, Accounting, and Tax outsourcing services, I suggest you:
- Understand the US market first.
- Go to PCAOB’s website. You’ll find a huge list of all the Accounting firms in the US.
- Pick out any 100 CPA firms to start with. Identify whether they have a base/back office presence in India or other countries.
- Sometimes even if they have a base in India, it may just be outsourced tax work. Their audit or accounting work can still be up for grabs.
- Identify the Head of Audit at those US firms and connect with them on LinkedIn.
- They may not respond the first time so do a follow-up after a week.
- Prepare a pitch deck explaining the kind of work you would provide them.
- Consider giving them a freebie. Give them a demo of your work for free to showcase your ability.
- Be transparent with the people you deal with. Tell your clients what you can do and what you cannot, but are willing to do.
- Even if you don’t break even in the first few years it’s okay.
- Hire a technically adept professional. It’s easier to say you are good all by yourself but you do need support. Other than that, you can hire B. Com graduates or people who are still pursuing CA.
- Don’t get demotivated by rejections, it’s part of the business. Make sure your passion does not die out.
While it is true that I am doing something I am passionate about, and prioritizing my health, now I have to put in more time than I used to at PwC.
But I don’t want to stop. There are still some areas, that I want to improve about my company. Our processes are not streamlined, as you would see in a Big 4 firm. And we aspire to achieve that.
Some of the people who have left my company said that they wanted to work with a big brand name. We have to embrace that we can’t create a huge brand in an instant. It takes years of hard work.
But if we believe in our ability, we will achieve it.
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