A Growing Business
I’m the VP Controller of Zumper, the largest residential rental booking site in the United States that aims to help people find their next home as easy as booking a hotel. As the VP Controller, I oversee accounting, cash management, financial reporting and tax compliance. As anyone with an accounting background would know, this is a lot of work. Although I have three accountants here that are full-time employees, we still need more accountants, but like other companies, we, of course, wanted to minimize overhead expenses.
As the number of transactions increased, the accounting tasks increased too. I started looking for outsourcing opportunities to help my department. I myself am a firm believer in outsourcing, when I was working at Twitter, I helped build an offshore team in India, which is why I’m very familiar with the practices of outsourcing.
There’s a lot of outsourced accounting firms in San Francisco but I recommended Unified Accounting & Tax (or UAT). I know Harold Kinoshita, CEO of UAT from a different company that we worked together. He is smart and dedicated. I know that Harold and his team from the Philippines will be a great resource.
Unlike other outsourcing companies, UAT has pre-qualified professionals. UAT is essentially helping you recruit accountants. If you like them, you hire them. If not, then you just part ways and find someone else. It’s that simple.
The accountants I hired from them came from Big Four Firms and one had a career with PWC.
How Outsourcing Really Works
To maximize outsourcing, you must build the process in-house, set expectations upfront, and give instructions, guidelines, and requirements. You must be well-organized and be a strong manager. You can’t just outsource everything, not give guidance, and think that outsourcing is a magic box that will solve everything.
You must first decide what “can be” and “should be” outsourced.
It’s advisable to meet the outsource team regularly. I try to have Monday close meetings with my entire team and I set clear guidelines like “On day 1, I need XY and Z completed.”
Transitioning from In-House to Outsourcing
We have been partners with UAT for about two years and it has been very easy. The accountants we hire from UAT are great and they learn fast.
The transition is easy, I hire someone from UAT and on-board them, similar to what we do with regular employees. Training them is easy as they are highly skilled, similar to the level of an accounting manager. We exchange business knowledge and I provide guidelines on how I want the accounting done and what reconciliations are needed.
A good example of Zumper benefiting from outsourcing is we have a staff here in California who scans all the checks and deposits them in our local bank. The outsource accountants will receive the scan and enter the cash receipt and apply it to the correct account. UAT would do all the research and make sure that the cash allocations are correct.
The outsourcing team can pick-up heavy workloads and this is truly innovative and cost-effective for us. Outsourcing allows us to focus on the growth of our business while keeping our costs down by not adding local head count.
Currently, I have three accountants from UAT that are very critical to the monthly close process. They do a lot of work for my department like reconciliations, creating and booking journal entries and other matters that do not require face to face interaction.
Time Difference is an Advantage
Although there’s a time difference, the UAT team in the Philippines is very flexible and will cater to my hours starting around noon. The beauty and efficiency of having somebody 16 hours ahead of our time are you can give them a task at 6pm and they can work all night for you and have it done in the morning. That’s a great benefit if you utilize the team properly giving you greater advantage and leverage.
Future with UAT
We are very pleased with the UAT Team’s results, we are planning to utilize their services for other projects. We will have UAT help us prepare for the coming review and audit. We are also planning to implement NetSuite, UAT will help with the testing, validation and operating different sets of books in parallel before we go live. This is our beneficial long-term partnership and will continue with UAT.
The Advantage of Partnering with UAT
The greatest benefit of partnering with UAT is that the outsource team has integrated perfectly with my in-house team and they’re critical in supporting our monthly close process. Outsourcing to UAT has greatly helped the flow of our operation without duplicating the cost. Keeping a very lean team that is cost-effective is the biggest take-away from partnering with UAT.
Harold and the rest of the UAT team are doing a fantastic job. As long as Harold is able to source good accountants, we’ll continue to have great results. At the end of the day, it’s the people he hires that drive the business. All the accountants servicing Zumper are hardworking, smart and reliable.
I would highly recommend outsourcing to UAT. It’s a company with a great business model that can save you so much money. They provide companies with additional accounting managers with less extra cost. If you can save money and find quality candidates to come in and help you, why not?