The finance and accounting outsourcing market is expected to grow 15 to 20 percent this year and top $4 billion in annual contract value.

A new report by the Everest Group found that annual contract value for multi-process finance and accounting outsourcing grew almost 15 percent last year and 10 percent in 2009. The total contract values of new engagements reached a market high last year of nearly $5 billion, according to the study by the research and advisory firm.

The study found that the finance and accounting outsourcing market reached $3.5 billion in annual contract value in 2010, representing about $28.5 billion in total spending on finance and accounting outsourcing.

According to the report, finance and accounting outsourcing represents a $150 billion to $200 billion opportunity, split equally across third-party service providers and captives or shared services. The current penetration of the third-party sourcing market represents only 5 to 10 percent of the overall potential, implying a significant value creation opportunity.

Leading service providers included Accenture, IBM, Genpact, Capgemini, Infosys BPO and HP. Other service providers in the study include TCS, Wipro, WNS, ACS-Xerox, Steria, Vengroff Williams & Associates, Outsource Partners International, Cognizant, EXL Services and Intelenet. Also included in the report are emerging providers, such as iGate-Patni, Minacs, HCL and KPIT Cummins Infosystems.

The five service providers that made the most gains last year were Accenture, Genpact, IBM, TCS and WNS.

In addition to an increase in new finance and accounting outsourcing contracts last year over 2009, the market also reached an all-time high in contract extensions, which along with contract expansions, represented nearly 55 percent of the growth in annual contract value in 2010. The study predicts organic growth to continue as contracts valued at $6.2 billion or more are up for extension within the next three years.

“Last year saw a strong rebound in multi-process FAO adoption, which we expect to continue this year as buyers look to reduce costs and optimize processes,” said Everest Group research vice president Saurabh Gupta. “However, buyers continue to remain cautious and adopt a more phased approach rather than big-bang solutions.”

The report found that finance and accounting outsourcing continues to see strong adoption across most industries, with manufacturing, financial services, retail, travel and logistics, and energy and utilities accounting for 70 to 75 percent of total spending in 2010.

The United States accounted for over half of total finance and accounting outsourcing spending in 2010, while the Asia-Pacific region witnessed the fastest growth.

Large buyers accounted for 55 percent of the contracts signed in 2010. Mid-market companies, which have revenues of $1 billion to $5 billion annually, revived their adoption of finance and accounting outsourcing last year.

Outsourcing of accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger continue to be the most outsourced processes, whereas outsourcing of financial planning and analysis is an emerging trend.

An end-to-end process-driven approach to finance and accounting outsourcing is also emerging as opposed to a traditional functional and piecemeal approach. More than 50 percent of the new contracts in 2010 had an end-to-end scope, including procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, and record-to-report.

Nearly 95 percent of FAO contracts had an offshore component, with maximum offshore growth occurring in India, Central and South America, as well as Southeast Asia. Several new locations also entered the market, including South Africa and Morocco.

In 2010, technology augmentation emerged as the new “normal.” Nearly 50 percent of the new contracts included add-on tools, such as workflow, interfaces, document management, business process management, business intelligence, user portals and dashboards.

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