Where are your accounts being done, NZ or overseas? When you engage an accountant or bookkeeper in New Zealand you assume that they are doing your accounts however you may be surprised to learn that this may not be the case. Some firms outsource some or all of the work overseas and therefore the question is have you been told and are you happy with this?

If you are fully informed that this is going to happen and are happy then there is no problem. However if you are not informed and feel uncomfortable about who has access to your accounts and information then you need to know. What should you do? Well you should ask your bookkeeper or accountant if they are outsourcing some or all of your accounts work, where is it outsourced to and what do they know about the firm they have outsourced it to. You have a right to know this information – they are your accounts and it is your information they will have access to.

Why should you care? When a firm actually undertakes the work they quote for you, you are speaking to the people who are doing the work. The person who has access to your information is in New Zealand and subject to New Zealand law. Now we are not saying that any country is more or less honest than another but don’t forget names, addresses and sometimes bank account numbers are involved.  Has the firm who is outsourcing your work done their due diligence thoroughly and do they have insurance to cover if something goes horribly wrong with the outsourced work quality or data integrity?.

What are the warning signs? Well firstly if the quote is quite low then you should be suspicious that it might be done overseas where the cost of labour is much lower. Secondly an overnight turnaround – this is achieved by say receiving the information in the late afternoon and it being completed overnight in another time zone. Thirdly, if you have control over your accounting program and get asked to add “another user” – ask who is that, why are they needing them added and where are they based. If they control your software check who are authorised users.

We do not outsource offshore, we worry about the integrity of the information security. We are concerned that unless the work is undertaken in our office by our staff we really don’t know who has that information in front of them and what they are doing with that information. We also want our clients to know that they can pop in and talk to the person who has, and is doing, the work.

So what are we saying? We are saying that if a firm tells you that it will outsource your work and you are happy with that then there is no problem. We are also saying that you have a right to know who is doing the work, where they are based, what legal jurisdiction they fall under, does the firms insurance cover things if it all goes wrong and can you pop in and talk to them if you want.

At the end of the day the decision is yours but you need to know whether it is being outsourced, the details of what/where/who for you to be able to make an informed decision.