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Knowledge Process Outsourcing Industry

Amitabh Sharma
Features Coordinator

Taking a cue from last week, let us look into a phenomenon of outsourcing that has taken outsourcing to the next level.

For most of us, this means the call centres brimming with youngsters, taking care of customer service for a client sitting several time zones apart. This word has another connotation to it, which is Equity Research or Knowledge Process Outsourcing, (KPO) which is still at nascent stage

What is KPO
The work entails doing equity research for overseas investment banks, research houses, consultancies and other financial institutions. The range of services covered by KPO includes intellectual property creation such as patent research, data mining, database creation and updation and analytical services such as equity research, competitive intelligence preparation of company profiles, industry reports and financial modelling.

Work profile
The analyst or associate is based offshore and generally supports one or a set of analysts based in some other country, doing the same level of research that gets done in those financial centres.

The role could be that of an associate attached to analysts’ abroad or working stand alone for clients. The offshore analyst complements the analyst based abroad by collating bits of data or information, on the web as well as various web based and other databases. The person also assists in writing a full-fledged equity research report that is a vital source of information for thousands of potential investors and organisations.

In a KPO setup, the work involves building models in MS Excel for companies, which includes historical data, and forecasts in coordination with the analysts abroad.

What it takes
As the nature of the work suggests, the analyst should be a good listener as well as a good communicator. To succeed in a model where two individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds sitting miles and time zones apart, working on the same report, could be an invitation to chaos if these two qualities are not present.

Also proficiency in Internet navigation, thorough knowledge of Microsoft Office packages (like MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint etc) is a must. Some amount of travel to client locations would be needed. Hence candidates should be open to travel at short notices.

Who can get into this sector
Being a specialised field this industry offers job opportunities for MBA graduates (Finance), Chartered Accountant (CA), Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) or any similar professional qualification with functional skills in finance, statistics, and economics. While a formal qualification is important, what is valued more than the degree is the candidate’s analytical and communication skills, both written and oral. Also, a certain willingness to learn and adapt to situations is an essential skill set.

It would be an added advantage if the incumbents have some orientation in global accounting practices, like US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices).

This is a very demanding and tough job, as one is working against tight deadlines, the work is much beyond the 9 to 5 regime. One should be prepared and be willing and have the ability to put in long hours to juggle between the time zones to meet deadlines.

Job prospects
The salaries are lower than what your overseas counterparts make; the fact remains that this is a sunrise industry that requires quality people in high volumes. The compensation and job prospects would not be a constraint for the deserving candidate.

Once on board, the training is rigorous, as it makes the difference between success and failure for the individual as well as the company.

Given the potential and the outlook of this industry, the opportunities KPO offers for diverse professionals are immense. As industry pundits put it, people who have an early mover advantage and a demonstrable experience profile will ride this wave.

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