FAQ

What is AA’s approach to change orders?

Company

We don’t believe in expensive change orders or exorbitant hourly rates for out of scope work that marginalizes or negates the benefits of outsourcing and more often than not results in a contentious relationship.

All industries are in constant change and special projects frequently arise. As partners, AA and its clients collaborate as unexpected challenges arise to determine the best course of action and most appropriate use of resources. The usual outcome of these efforts is a re-prioritization of tasks and re-deployment of personnel, thereby avoiding change orders and associated incremental costs. By allowing the Statement of Work to be a guide in the relationship and not its definition, our clients are able to make better business decisions without worrying about contract price escalation and expensive change orders.

What is the typical AA contract length?

Company

Our contracts are flexible in nature and can be drafted to meet your needs. However, there is a certain amount of time and investment that must be made and change can take time.

How long does it take to transition F&A processes to AA?

Company

AA’s approach to transitions is methodical and takes into account people, processes, and technology as well as risks. Transition time will vary depending upon complexity, scope, content, and timing issues, however, AA’s detailed documentation and training approach enables AA to successfully transition most processes within 60 days, with more complicated processes requiring 90 to 120 days.

How does AA ensure quality standards?

Company

We strive to deliver the highest quality services and take deliberate measures to meet and exceed our strict quality standards. Our foundation for ensuring quality and consistent delivery is grounded in our adherence to the rigorous standards of ISO 9001:2008, and SAS 70. Additionally, we regularly report on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and provide our clients with a performance dashboard which details key performance statistics, key process indicators, continuous improvement initiatives, and noteworthy events that may affect processes. This is further supplemented by ongoing communications as well as regular governance committee meetings and satisfaction surveys.

What is AA’s approach to US GAAP, SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory requirements?

Company

The majority of AA’s executives are former Big Four accounting firm partners, senior managers and experienced CFO’s and Controllers. As accountants by training, we appreciate the importance of internal controls and understand the practical implications they have on our clients’ business operations. With every client, we work closely to identify and document all regulatory requirements so that all offshore processes and reporting mechanisms are customized to ensure compliance. These issues are a regular component of what we do and all professionals working in our Service Centers are trained in US GAAP, SEC, and Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.

How does AA ensure its professional have the necessary language and finance skills?

Company

AA, at its core, is an organization of highly skilled finance and accounting professionals. Finance and accounting aptitude is critical and we have established minimum education and related experience requirements for AA production professionals in India, New Zeland, and USA. In India, for example, at a minimum all professionals have earned a 2 year degree and possess 3 years of practical experience. A large percentage of our professionals possess a 4 year degree with 3 – 5 years of practical experience and experienced Chartered Accountants.

Prior to joining AA, new recruits are subjected to multi-level screening interviews, language and skills aptitude testing, and extensive background checks. We pay special attention to our candidates’ communication skills. Importantly, all employees must embrace AA’s culture of professionalism, continuous improvement, and commitment to providing world class client service.

What is your pricing model and preferred mode of payment?

Company

Our pricing model basically differs for each project undertaken; depending on your requirement. However, the general basis of pricing is common and is as follows.

  • Fixed Price
  • Time and Material (T&M)
  • Full Time Equivalent (FTE)/Rate Card
  • The preferred method of payment is by wire transfer.

What kind of training do you provide to your employees?

Company

The AA team of chartered accountants has completed rigorous training and testing to provide you with only the most accurate and reliable information. Our extensive training program, developed and administered by CPAs, ensures that everyone on the AA team is proficient in:

  • US tax law and theory, with an emphasis on Form 1040 tax preparation
  • Source document recognition and the use of tax preparation software
  • Quickbooks, Intacct, Peachtree, Netsuite, Sage, Easyacct, MYOB ® for write up services
  • Industry regulations, processes and guidleines, softwares.

What is AA’s employee turnover rate and how does AA work to minimize turnover?

Company

Our attrition rate has consistently been less than 5%, which we believe to be among the lowest, if not the lowest, in the offshore BPO industry. We actively work to provide our employees with interesting and challenging work as well as ongoing training and learning opportunities in order to drive high employee satisfaction rates. Our low turnover rate provides for smooth operations and long-term continuity for our client which is an important driver of our high client satisfaction rate.

What makes AA different than its competitors?

Company

AA is a leading professional services firm that is dedicated to providing finance & accounting and related outsourcing services such as analytics. Our unique capabilities allow for the outsourcing of complex functions. These differentiators include:

  • Professional services firm with quality at forefront
  • Skilled professionals, including CPAs and Chartered Accountants
  • A commitment to continuous improvement
  • Dedication to a developing and nurturing a partnership with each of our clients
  • Flexible approach to change orders and transparent pricing
  • A personable approach to outsourcing
  • ISO9001-2008 certified

When did AA begin outsourcing?

Company

AA was formed in January 2001 and began outsourcing finance, accounting and tax compliance in March 2001.

Why did AA set up its India outsourcing center in Pune, India?

Company

Pune is now the ideal business location in India, especially for business process outsourcing (BPO). Although it is only two to three hours from Mumbai, the beautiful city of Pune stands apart from India’s congested and increasingly inflation-ridden major urban centers. Yet it is in an area that hosts many of the renowned universities and colleges that serve as incubators for lacs of the best-qualified job candidates in the Accounting, Tax and information technology fields every year.

How long does it take to transition F&A processes to AA?

Outsourcing

AA approach to transitions is methodical and takes into account people, processes, and technology as well as risks. Transition time will vary depending upon complexity, scope, content, and timing issues, however, AA detailed documentation and training approach enables AA to successfully transition most processes within 30 days, with more complicated processes requiring 60 to 90 days.

How are the overseas accountants knowledgeable about US tax laws?

Outsourcing

There is an abundance of highly qualified English-speaking Chartered Accountants overseas. With ample training and structure, these accountants are able to meet or exceed the quality of tax preparation done in the “back office” of most CPA firms. AA has a rigorous, training program that begins with classroom instruction on US tax law and various tax software applications. Classroom training is followed by extensive practical training through the preparation of sample returns of varying difficulty.

Which size/types of returns do CPA firms typically choose to outsource?

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is an excellent solution for the full spectrum of tax returns, from simple to complex. On the simplest end of the spectrum are children’s returns. These returns go through a compliance check by the India supervisor and require little review time back in the CPA firm. The more sophisticated, complex returns have multiple brokerage statements, rental properties, Schedule C information, numerous K-1 forms, etc. These returns may also include oil and gas and farm income. A typical return falls somewhere in between these two extremes.

What disclosures are typically made by CPA firms to their clients regarding the outsourcing of returns?

Outsourcing

Any firm outsourcing with AA should reference outsourcing directly or indirectly in their privacy statement to ensure compliance Many firms include a statement that they are outsourcing processes in order to improve client service, reduce turnaround time and give employees a higher quality of life during the busy season. Others indicate that there may be a need to disclose client information to third parties who provide help in servicing their accounts. In either case, as long as the end client is assured that his/her work will be reviewed by the firm in US prior to delivery, they generally respond favorably to outsourcing.

Can work be done faster by outsourcing it to India?

Outsourcing

Yes. On the subject of speed, the advantages of outsourcing work to India, and in particular, to AA, are extraordinary. Our outsourcing teams add approximately 12 hours to the normal services workday. As firm in the West head home to sleep, a fresh round of work on the day shift in India is just beginning, in a time zone that is essentially a day ahead. Our speed is also enhanced by the number of designated FTE that our clients now can afford to devote to any given work, thanks to outsourcing. As a situation demands, we can provide the assistance of a single reviewer or an entire platoon of trained professionals, thus enabling our clients to “flood the zone” where such an approach is warranted.

This is virtually the opposite of the practice of many large Western firms, which, by necessity, must promise their clients “lean staffing,” to address well-founded fears of compounded hourly fees climbing through the roof. Our aim in facilitating the outsourcing of work is to help obtain the desired result for our clients as quickly as possible, through the appropriate and unstinting application of concentrated accounting talent. We have found that in using this approach, we and our supervising U.S. firms often run circles around the so-called “lean staffing” of mega-firms.

What kind of cost savings can be expected by outsourcing to India?

Outsourcing

Outsourcing work to India can result in savings of up to 50% or more. As The New York Times reported: “The reason for the shift [to outsourcing] echoes the reason companies are sending other work abroad: they save substantial amounts of money. Some companies say they can reduce certain costs by as much as 50 percent, and receive work that rivals what they can obtain in the United States”.

The financial advantages of outsourcing to India that can accrue to our clients are seen not only in the well-known differences between salaries and costs of living among the workforces of the U.S. and India, but also in the price of office space, which is ultimately paid for by clients. Many traditional firms locate virtually all of their personnel in relatively expensive offices in the largest cities in the United States and the United Kingdom. This tradition has led to a situation in which most of each dollar or pound that these firms charge their clients pays for office rent. In India, the employees work in state-of-the-art facilities at 1/20th the cost of comparable space in major U.S. cities (and at far lower cost than Indian cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi/Gurgaon).

You know exactly what your costs will be for each job processed as it is fixed. This means that the time consuming compliance element is handled for you at a far lower cost than you could do it internally leaving a higher margin for you.

Reduced “on costs.”

With staff performing more productively your fee base will grow but there will be no spiraling of “on costs” such as accident compensation, sick leave, annual leave, hiring of short term staff, etc. or other on costs. An intangible, but nevertheless real, benefit is that you no longer have the stress of dealing with under performing staff. The preparation work is now performed by highly trained and dedicated contractors

Professional development more effective.

You can focus on developing your team knowledge and skills in the areas of most value to your clients because they will have the time and attitude to make this professional development most effective. Time consuming training in mundane, compliance processing matters is no longer a demand. That is the outsourcer’s responsibility; your only requirement is to keep your team up to date.

Staff morale improves.

This is a major benefit. With the need to do time consuming compliance work team members perform more enjoyable and rewarding activity and are happier. The whole atmosphere of the practice changes and, although almost impossible to accurately measure, a best guess assessment of around a 25% improvement in morale is realistic.

Savings in staff costs.

Significant further savings will be made in future years as staffs that leave are not replaced. Couple this with the growing confidence and skills of staff to handle higher value work and the dramatic reduction in *staff costs as a percentage of fees will continue.

Low costs.

We are confident that our processing fees are the lowest in the market which quite simply means that the profit on your compliance work will be far greater than you could achieve internally.

Moreover, by capturing and storing all your clients’ accounts and tax related information in electronic format, you get advantage of the not only latest technology and ensure improvement of workflow, fasten your tax preparation and finalization of accounts process, but also make your firm paperless.

What if I decide outsourcing is not right for our business and we would like to bring the function back in-house?

Outsourcing

Should you decide to bring outsourced functions back in-house due to a change in corporate direction or other reason, there are a number of benefits provided by AA’s methodology. The most important is our detailed workflow process documentation that is developed at virtually the key-stroke level. This documentation can be leveraged for training of in-house staff and to ensure all quality and compliance requirements are achieved during and after the transition.

Why is outsourcing sometimes not successful?

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is designed to create strategic value beyond cost savings. This may include access to information, decrease in error rates, better internal controls, elimination of staffing problems, innovation, and so on. These results can be more difficult to achieve and largely depends on the client’s relationship with the outsourcing provider and the level of strategic partnership developed. Therefore, selecting the right provider that delivers the necessary level of communication, change management, contract flexibility, process knowledge, and partnership is critical to the long-term success of outsourcing.

What benefits are typical of F&A outsourcing?

Outsourcing

Benefits will vary by company depending on a number of different factors including current efficiency of processes, level of centralization, technology, internal support for outsourcing, focus on continuous improvement, degree of partnership with provider. Accountant Anywhere’s client-partners typically experience benefits such as:

  • Cost savings of 40-60%
  • Flexibility through a variable cost structure
  • Ready-access to talented and skilled professionals
  • Improved speed of access to financial information
  • Transparency into processes
  • Ongoing focus on process improvement
  • Superior controls and risk management

Why should I outsource my accounting functions?

Outsourcing

Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core business, rather than managing a non-core operation such as an accounting department. Outsourcing gives your company access to a higher level of expertise, huge cost savings in employment related costs.

What does finance and accounting outsourcing mean?

Outsourcing

Finance and accounting outsourcing refers to outsourcing of accounting processes like accounts payables processing, invoicing, accounts receivables processing, bank reconciliations, general ledger maintenance, fixed asset accounting, payroll processing, finalization of accounts, financial reporting and filing of tax returns

How are files transmitted to AA web-hosting facility?

Process

Scanned documents (the taxpayer’s organizer and source documents) and tax data files from the tax software are transmitted via FTP software using 128-bit encryption to a secure server at the AA hosting facility.

What is AA’s approach to change orders?

Process

We don’t believe in expensive change orders or exorbitant hourly rates for out of scope work that marginalizes or negates the benefits of outsourcing and more often than not results in a contentious relationship.

All industries are in constant change and special projects frequently arise. As partners, AA and its clients collaborate as unexpected challenges arise to determine the best course of action and most appropriate use of resources. The usual outcome of these efforts is a re-prioritization of tasks and re-deployment of personnel, thereby avoiding change orders and associated incremental costs. By allowing the Statement of Work to be a guide in the relationship and not its definition, our clients are able to make better business decisions without worrying about contract price escalation and expensive change orders.

What is the typical AA contract length?

Process

Our contracts are flexible in nature and can be drafted to meet your needs. However, there is a certain amount of time and investment that must be made and change can take time.

How does process workflow work?

Process

Workflow for an accounting system:

An accounting system is eventually about various business documents being listed, processed to certain business rules and updated into books of accounts.

Outsourcing of accounting services works as below:

  • With the help of a high speed scanner and get all business documents (purchase orders, supplier invoices, goods arrival reports, sales orders, delivery reports, sales invoices, collections, payments, expense reports, payroll inputs) scanned and stored into a computer at your premises (preferably in an off-the-shelf inexpensive document management system if you have too many documents)
  • Your accounting system is stored on a computer (oftentimes the same computer) at your premises
  • You get the computers connected to internet by using your local ISP
  • We access your computer remotely from our BPO center, read the scanned images, process/archive the document images, and update the accounting systems
  • Your accounting system is ready to provide the information you need. The reports you need are prepared and stored in a safe folder.You get to use the same accounting system and same processes you follow now. Your data and your documents stay all the time within your premises. We do not store your accounting system or data at our premises, unless it is a client requirement.
  • Our accountants work on a “dedicated” basis. You will have a dedicated resource.

How will AA handle my work project?

Process

  • Trial Period: We have a trial period that will minimize your outsourcing risks. With this, you can evaluate our performance and decide whether you want to outsource your entire project to us.
  • Project Transition : We implement a ‘Process Knowledge Transfer Methodology’ that assures a seamless transition of your project. This will greatly reduce your outsourcing risks.
  • Project Management: You will have a single point of contact who will be responsible for communication and management of every step of the project.
  • Customer Relationship: We take and implement regular feedback of the progress of your project.

What is your HR policy with regard to Employee Security?

Security

AA follows in stringent HR policy which spells out below measures:

  • Reference checks at the time of recruitment, from past employers.
  • Educational qualifications verified directly with educational institutions and a criminal background check from local police stations.
  • Entry is restricted and monitored through swipe cards
  • Non-disclosure Agreements signed with all employees during time of employment.

Is all of the work handled via the Internet? How do I send my work to you?

Security

The flexibility provided by the Internet is at the heart of our success as providers of superior quality accounting and bookkeeping services. Most of our projects are web based and so we can communicate and transfer files through the internet. At the initial stage of communicating your project requirement, you can send us a brief description or a document about your project requirements. If you have an application on which you need us to work on or analyze, we will need to get:

  • Web server details
  • Database details
  • FTP details

If you would like to work on your server, you provide us a remote login access

Does AA have any internal audits to know if something is not working?

Security

AA follows a regular Semi-annual Audit Program, wherein the following are evaluated:

  • Policies and processes both for IS and the organization as a whole
  • Local security
  • Network security
  • Vulnerability assessment

How my data is secured, what is your data security policy?

Security

Network and Data Security

AA follows well defined multiple physical and software security system to ensure consistent quality results through processes designed as per standards of ISO 9001:2008.

Dual monitor system is used wherein our processors process the data on one monitor in the relevant software and view the source documents on another monitor. The source documents are scanned by you in US into a computer server which is physically located in US. Our production team can see data on screen but they can never download or print any data.

AA has invested in a state of the art infrastructure which features:

  • Firewalls and IDS monitored around the clock.
  • Antivirus installed on all desktops and servers. These are updated and upgraded at regular intervals.
  • Restricted access to Servers and shared areas on the servers. This ensures that only authorized personnel are allowed to access the relevant data.
  • Access to the internet only for work related sites.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery. This takes care of Data Security in the event of a disaster
  • Workstations with disabled Media such a floppy drives, CD/DVD drives, USB drives, handheld devices, mobile phones & printers.

Why is it crucial to have the hosting site located here in the U.S.?

Security

We believe there are two primary reasons. First, the uncertainty of sending privileged information halfway around the world to be stored on servers in India is unnerving to most CPAs and their taxpaying clients. Secondly, with a domestic host, AA can control all programs, tax software and servers-both here and in India-from that hosting facility.

What provisions does AA put in place to ensure continuous operations in the case of disaster?

Security

AA has detailed business continuity planning procedures that contribute to our overall disaster recovery plan. All devices, services, locations, and personnel within the AA network are taken into consideration. We also work to integrate our disaster recovery plans with those of our clients and develop a mutual plan to account for any and all outages.

How does AA ensure client data is secure, protected, and kept confidential?

Security

Our commitment to preserving the confidentiality, integrity and availability of client information is attested to by our ISO 9001-2008 certification. Furthermore, all client data remains on client servers, which allows our clients to maintain control of sensitive and confidential information. Our offshore personnel operate in a paperless work environment and from “dumb terminals” where web access has been severely limited and often completely disabled.

Testimonial

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In conjunction with Accountant Anywhere we implemented a complete invoice processing and reconciliation process which has now been in place for over two years. From the outset the process and mapping was incredibly well managed and professional, required improvements and process changes have been received in a positive and professional manner with what I will call a partnership view in mind rather than a customer supplier relationship.

With all charges that are processed by the team in India being customer facing it is critical that the attention to detail and accuracy is perfect, we have been very pleased with the results achieved and manage any exception via skype in a training type environment.

I would not hesitate to recommend Accountant Anywhere to any small to medium size business, they a both professional and cost effective.

CEO of a large corporate travel franchise.

New Zealand Corporate Client / / /

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