First-Class Practice: Driving Career Development in Financial Shared Services

In an earlier blog about Commercial Finance, I observed that the primary career consideration of many a newly qualified accountant is how to achieve that tricky transition into the world of commercial business partnering.

In reality for most aspiring finance leaders, the most achievable first move from audit to industry is to secure a role in one of the many multinationals that operate SSCs in Ireland. The transition from audit to the high-level accounting review work that SSC financial accounting roles require is logical. It makes sense.

A short-term option?

Unfairly, SSCs may have a poor reputation; perceived by many as accounting factories, or places where “commercial finance” just doesn’t happen. So, surely, taking this role is a means to an end?

Take a fresh look

In line with more overarching strategic shifts that businesses are taking to deliver increased value-, the model of the SSC has had to change to survive. Established SSCs are evaluating and evolving their business model to provide improved service levels to their customers by up skilling their current offering, to include business analysis and commercial support, while simultaneously offsetting any cost implication by outsourcing lower level “factory” activities to lower cost operators and locations.

Ireland is a massively high performer in the delivery of value-add services, with over 25% of SSCs in Ireland classed as “Shared Service Masters,” operations that drive overall high performance, compared to an average of 8% of SSCs worldwide. Let’s take a look at the opportunities.

Finance Transformation

So, in addition to gaining commercial experience with the best in the world, working in an SSC you are likely to gain exposure to finance transformation and organisational design. Are there opportunities to get involved in migrations, either outbound or inbound? Being a contributor to such large-scale projects will help you to develop advanced project management skills, understand complex cultural and organisational challenges and overcome the issues faced in change management.

Sophisticated Technology

Don’t overlook gaining experience with some of the most advanced technology in the world. Ireland is no longer the most cost efficient place to locate a SSC, so to outweigh the cost of talent, many are investing in technology, firstly, to automate lower level activity, and two, to take the leg work out of critical financial analysis. Consider the opportunities to work with sophisticated reporting, consolidation and BI software. Not only on a day to day basis, but in a continuous improvement environment where you are likely to get hands on experience in implementing, designing and improving technology to stay ahead of the curve.

Best Practice

SSCs maintain cutting edge best practices, the latest updates in accounting standards as well as other areas of corporate governance. SSC experience, in the main, is global, so opportunities to partner with different cultures and business divisions will further enhance communication skills, business partnering ability, with the additional bonus of an opportunity to travel!

A great option to develop a first-class career.

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