Trinidad and Tobago has sizable potential for finance and accounting outsourcing (FAO), according to industry expert John Hall. While there are various reasons that the country should be able to attract more of this business, one factor stood out immediately during his recent visit.
“The first thing I look at when I chose a location is: What’s the talent like?” said Hall in an interview on the CNC3 morning show. “And the quality of the people that we’ve met this week as we’ve gone through and done a study of the country has been exceptional.”
Hall, a 25-year industry veteran and founder of the consultancy Triangular World, was in the country for a conference where he spoke about the history of the outsourcing and shared services industry. He also made the trip to conduct a study aimed at helping articulate how Trinidad and Tobago can advance on the roadmap from “where you are today to where you would like be as a country,” he said in a separate interview with Good Morning Trinidad and Tobago.
His firm has worked with major brands, including Coca-Cola in Europe, in the area of shared services and change management. And in addition to advancing the services sector to attract foreign clients, Hall noted that Trinidad and Tobago should also see the industry for its potential to help support the growth and development of local companies on the islands.
Hall believes that the progress made so far represents the beginning of a journey for Trinidad and Tobago and praised the quality of the government workers promoting the industry, including those at the Trinidad & Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC). The government has also done a good job, in his eyes, to align its objectives with those of the local University of the West Indies and other key stakeholders that are helping to train more talent and further promote the nation as a destination for foreign firms.
But he acknowledges that Trinidad’s greatest asset is also a challenge. Because it is something of a tropical paradise, some corporate decision makers have trouble convincing their bosses that they are really heading to the country for a site visit. If a manager tries to get a similar trip approved to Mexico or Bulgaria, there may be no questions. But the mention of Trinidad can still cause some odd looks and questions about whether the employee is flying there to conduct actual business or simply looking for a working holiday.
This, among other challenges present in a low-population country, makes it critical to maintain the correct messaging and a targeted effort from both the public and private sectors to properly promote the country’s outsourcing and shared services opportunities. Hall has seen other places, like Mauritius in the Pacific, overcome such hurdles.
And the capabilities are there regardless of any outward perception. Quickly after arriving in the country, Hall saw that it has a talented labor pool. In particular, during his media appearances, he praised the number of accountants, finance professionals, and payroll employees per capita and said that focusing on such strength is “the right attitude.”
While that alone may not be enough to push forward the industry overnight, Hall’s time in the country showed him that Trinidad and Tobago has a good foundation on which to build.