Mon | Dec 17, 2018

KPMG launches outsourcing arm, but only for one client

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Managing Partner at KPMG in Jamaica, R. Tarun Handa, is flanked by partner in charge of outsourcing at KPMG in Jamaica Donald Barnett (left) and Firm Controller at KPMG in US, Joseph Arena (right), at the launch of the Jamaica Extended Support Services outsourcing unit, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 59-59½ Habour Street, Kingston.

Audit and accounting KPMG has invested US$3 million ($380 million) to set up a new outsourcing office in Kingston, formalising a service that it has been offering for two years.

Its sole client since 2016 has been KPMG in US, but even with Tuesday's launch of its new Jamaica Extended Support Services, or JESS, KPMG in Jamaica's managing partner R. Tarun Handa, says there are no plans to add other clients.

JESS has a workforce of 100, which it plans to grow to 250 by next year. The unit offers 12 types of services - finance and accounting, human resources, analytics and market development - that support various departments of KPMG in the US, which has a workforce of 33,000.

The outsourcing unit's operating base is at Harbour Street, in proximity to the GraceKennedy headquarters and Foreign Ministry offices under construction, leading Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was at JESS' launch, to brand it as part of the redevelopment drive for the downtown waterfront.

Handa said that there are no plans to seek out additional clients by the JESS operation, which the firm describes as a nearshore shared service facility.

"Our costs between us and our landlord will likely be about US$3 million," said Handa, who declined to name the landlord. "It's a shared service centre, so our return on investment is more in terms of quality and efficiency and value added rather than hard-core," he said after the formal ceremony.

KPMG also expects to expand its outsourcing services in Montego Bay, through which it offers outsourcing services to KPMG in Bahamas and Cayman. The size of that development remains to be determined, the firm said.

The expanded Montego operation is expected to boost JESS' workforce to 425 by year 2022.

"This will take KPMG's aggregate footprint in Jamaica to over 800 by 2022 across all lines of our business here including audit, tax, advisory and now outsourcing," said Handa at the launch. The firms total workforce is around 485.

Donald Barnett, partner in charge of outsourcing at KPMG in Jamaica, said roughly half of the JESS services relate to accounting, followed by human resources and analytics. A number of the staff hold university degrees, but Barnett is encouraging high school graduates to apply for jobs at JESS, saying it provides training for recruits.

KPMG in Jamaica is a member firm of KPMG International. Each KPMG branch operates as a separate legal entity, but locations work together wherever they are opportunities.

"The relationship between the US firm and the Jamaican firm has historically been centred around serving cross border clients such as Citibank, General Electric, Liberty Global and others in North America," said Joseph Arena, firm controller at KPMG in US, at the launch ceremony for JESS.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com