Mar 27, 2007

Globalisation At Work

Just started work at my new organisation (a bank). I learned something quite interesting during the orientation programme.

The HR department has a special service to help foreign employees in Singapore process their PR applications. However, that HR service has been outsourced to the global processing centre in Mumbai.

In other words, the administrative work of getting PR status for foreign employees in Singapore is now being handled by people in India.

We learn a few interesting things here. Firstly, this bank employs so many foreigners in Singapore that it's worth the trouble of setting up special support and administrative services for them.

Secondly, so many of the foreign employees end up applying for PR status that the HR department finds it cost-efficient to set up a special service to help them do it.

Thirdly, outsourcing has become so extensive that even such a highly local process as PR applications in Singapore has been outsourced to India. In other words, the bank does not hire any secretary, clerk or admin officer in Singapore to do the necessary paperwork. It's cheaper to get someone in India to do it.

44 comments:

Philip said...

Dear Mr Wang, the pic you attached is a pic of Charminar. Its in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

Anonymous said...

Just a guess. I think the bank being mentioned here is Citibank. Like I said just a guess.

Anonymous said...

so more foreign investments in Singapore = more jobs for Singaporeans?

Heh.

Anonymous said...

Foreigners belong to Singapore or Singapore belongs to foreigner< i wonder

Anonymous said...

Globalisation is amazing. Division of labour? And taking advantage of the strength of one country to increase overall global efficiency? Scary! What will be next to be outsourced so that I will not waste my time to study that.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it just great! Foreign institutions setting up in S'pore. Employs numerous foreigners. Applies PRs for these foreigners with the administration being done by a subsidiary in a foreign country. Makes money from Singapore and Singaporeans. WHAM! BAM! thank you ma'm!

Ornateghost said...

Mr Wang, the concept and practice of shared services centers located in India / PRC has been in place for quite a while now. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Anonymous said...

It is a well known fact Citibank is the indian bank...

Anonymous said...

The pic looks like Hyderabad, not Mumbai, to me..

Well, I guess the problem would only really start if the processing of the PR and permits by ICA gets outsourced to India too..

Anonymous said...

ah. I am shocked to say the least. Getting foreigners to process local administrative documents? OMFG. Ingenious. Now, what say you if we outsource our government too?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang

I can understand if your employer helps its employment pass holders to settle in quickly into Singapore since that would get its employees to be productive from the word 'go'. I also believe that this centre in India does not serve just the Singapore office but also the other offices of your employer in Asia. Your usual economies of scale to lower costs.

What I don't understand if why your employer would as a company policy use its resources to help its EP holders in Singapore to obtain Singapore PR? How would it benefit the company in terms of productivity or savings?

Or it because of demands from the EP holders who say something to the effect that it you don't help me to get Singapore PR, I'll leave the company. Please enlighten.

Anonymous said...

yes we should out-source our gahmen

i cant bear to see our superstar ministers "SUFFERED" in our poorly paid gahmen, let them head out to earn a better living.

we can tap on the cheap labor and still consistance to our FT policy.

win-win situation for all...

Anonymous said...

So Mr Wang had to go to India for the HR interviews too?

Not bad, free travel hah...

Don't know about this outsourcing trend, I read somewhere that some companies are beginning to find that it is more myth than good sense and the company suffers in the long term.

Management gurus from the west always take us for a ride.

yh said...

to anon March 27, 2007 2:31 PM

maybe pr = resident != foreign worker

companies work around the quota and more job for 'resident'!

Mr Wang Says So said...

Wow, just found out that the staff in India also help male Singaporeans process their applications for NS ICT deferments.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Male Singaporeans who are employees of the bank, I mean.

le radical galoisien said...

Sending paperwork to India is rather inefficient, even with faxing and internet.

I am not alarmed at the trend, since specialisation can be a good process. The worry then, is what is being outsourced to Singapore? The occasional embryonic stem cell project?

awanderingshark said...

HR outsourcing is a relatively "low-end" process that has been extensively outsourced. It is mainly procedural and very straightforward.

What is interesting is that high-value skills such as equity research and x-ray assessments are now being outsourced.

awanderingshark said...

HR outsourcing is a relatively "low-end" process that has been extensively outsourced. It is mainly procedural and very straightforward.

What is interesting is that high-value skills such as equity research and x-ray assessments are now being outsourced.

Vincent said...

i read about this widespread phenonmenon of outsourcing amongst some large (especially US) companies from The World is Flat. a must read text for business schools during their summer vacations. think the rule of thumb now is that anything that can be outsource has to be outsourced. going lean is the way...

btw, yr blog is great. gives a very reflective perspective of matters around.

PC said...

Mr Wang

Please call me? Our lunch date is long overdue :o)

Anonymous said...

Globalisation is inevitable.

Hence we're getting a double dose of the inevitable, possibly in the belief that it will help improve our chances of survival.

Do you take one Panadol or two when you are sick?

Crashman said...

Haha, I am not surprised. To get a technician located 2 floors below my office to come attend to a PC problem, I have to call the helpdesk which is located in KL for them to route my request to the guy downstairs....

Anonymous said...

it is a pressing issue, but somehow it seems to me, govt is intent on distracting us we with something or the other else. like i said, maybe its just something that seems to ME.

Anonymous said...

I like this idea of outsourcing. What able outsourcing our government somewhere else. It seems to me anywhere in the world is cheaper than Singapore! The extra money saved could be used for so many other more useful purposes. Members of the present government could join the private sector if that is really what they want anyway. It's a win-win situation.

Anonymous said...

Mr Want - your new employer is not the only bank outsourcing HR work. It is the easiest form of cost cutting that banks can embark on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

So how do you feel about this? (aside from the initial surprise & amazement?) Positive / Negative?

Jack Ryan

Mr Wang Says So said...

Errrr, this is not my first bank. I know about banks outsourcing to India. What's surprising to me is that a process like PR applications in S'pore would also be outsourced (because such a process would presumably require some very specific local knowledge & awareness of the government's procedures).

Personally for me, over the years, I have moved on quite quickly, from a Singapore-based role, to a regional (Asia-ex Japan) role, and now, to an almost global role ... I personally am in the thick of globalisation.

I would say I'm doing well, but as I said before, this blog isn't just about me, and I am concerned for S'poreans who are left behind in the globalisation trend.

Anonymous said...

i've no problem with outsourcing generally if it ultimately leads to lower costs of living for sinkaporeans. the fact is, it doesn't. even when gabramen posts good gdp returns, the majority of us have seen our standards of living going south.

so, on one hand, stinkaporeans lose their jobs. on the other, we have to pay and pay the gabramen and its tlc-associated companies. darn darn darn...

Anonymous said...

After September 11, the round the clock security for Ministers' homes have been outsourced to Gurkhas, displacing the local CISCO staff.

Anonymous said...

Might as well outsource Military Service? It is an open secret that many SAF regulars are Malaysian-born . In addition, many of our home-team Police Officers are also not Singapore Citizens.

Why don't we outsource the SAF? Cheaper and maybe better?

Putting loyalty and that duty, honour and country crap aside, it's just a job...

Lunatic Fringe

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

Not sure if you are working for Citibank as some have speculated, but I recall reading a news article that mentioned the bank is one of the largest employers in Singapore. If as you put it, the Bank is so into outsourcing its functions, won't you find it contradictory that it has become one of the largest employers in Singapore?

Doesn't it say something about the strategy to adopt on handling globalisation? Should we as a society resist this (and risk longer term irrelevance in the global economy)? Or should we embrace and tackle it (suffer the short-term consequences, endure a widening wages gap and hopefully benefit in the longer term overall)?

I note your concern that for the people who had been disadvantaged in this but what then is the solution? As I've tried to point out, globalisation is a major factor in your current day success. (though of course not the only one)

If labor laws are not pro-business as they are now and favorable to global businesses locating their functions here, your job may not exist. If you try to block this globalisation trend, then we risk turning away businesses and industries.

Would your Bank locate in this country if werent for the freedom to hire / fire workers? Would your Bank locate here if it finds laws designed to protect locals so restrictive that it cannot bring in the necessary skills & expertise? If you have the opportunity, do speak to your Chief Executive or Senior Leadership if they are in town again.

Like it or not, Singapore is deep in the midst of a fierce war between cities for attracting foreign investments and its success now will determine the future for your kids.

I can understand how you feel about this issue - it all boils down to the concepts of egalitarianism which naturally appeals to many Singaporeans, including myself. We loath to leave our fellow citizens behind. However, we must recognise that such a fair society is still possible, even as we embrace globalisation which will benefit some and disadvantage others. What is key is not to have a society whereby success is largely predetermined by whose sperm it belongs to.

As history has taught us about communism, what would be a bad course of action would be to remove the incentives to succeed - with the end result of a deceptive 'fair' but much poorer society.

My thoughts.

Jack Ryan

Anonymous said...

I am tempted to infer the following which is rather anecdotal around these circles..
1. PR application is de riguor for all FT as there are some push and pull factors. eg. Tax, subsidize, CPF
2. PR hides the true number of jobs divided between locals and temporary PRs
3. MOM will not want to track these figures as it is politically a potential landmine
4. The man in the street knows this is happening by personal experience or relations but cannot produce numbers to prove it
5. Wihtout numbers to show what is really happening, the man in the street may over-react to globalization and security issues
6. Govt response is to use FUD. fear, uncertainty and doubt to maintain status quo

Anonymous said...

Gurkhas are more dedicated to their masters and more trustworthy if not loyal than locals

Anonymous said...

I was told that the male child of a PR is liable for NS come 12/13 yrs old. If he does not want to, the child loses his PR.

Anyone to share more?

Just another FT said...

Anon (2:37 pm) -

If the son of the FT doesn't serve, the son's PR status is revoked permanently, unless he goes through NS. I know people in their 30's who have been told to serve NS in order to qualify for PR. And if you're mid/early stage in your career with a family, taking two years out is tough.

Used to be that if you didn't benefit from subsidized public schooling you had a shot at being exempted, but on the other hand I have friends who went through UWC and were called up anyway.

I think the sentiment among FT is that if you go through the school system here and the government subsidizs it I guess it makes sense to repay the country.

I do though think it should be reduced in length, and that the call up period should be shortened dramatically. This is the common thread to all the posts I've placed here, and seems to a sentiment shared by 95% of contributors.

I was interested to hear that Singapore's NS requirement and subsequent call ups are more onerous than that of Israel, Korea and Taiwan. Kind of makes you think...

moomooman said...

Singapore is granting PRs very easily now.

I've come across expats working in the role of management (not specialise field), just arriving into Singapore and being given a PR almost immediately.

And PM Lee is true to his words, he mentioned 2 races whom we should welcome with open arms....Indians and Mainland Chinese.

The number of Indians being given PR in the last 1 year is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, what do you think of the ideas that Robert Kiyosaki sells in Rich Dad, Poor dad?
Do you think if Singaporeans take heed, it will save them from the foreign 'invaders'?

Mr Wang Says So said...

It is of course very important to save & invest regularly. But I would not recommend Robert Kiyosaki as your money guru.

Anonymous said...

why not?
the american context is not applicable but i think the principles are good... i think in some ways, we have been so psyched by society/govt(?) to get an education and job so as to become another robotic worker in the work force to support the rich's business of growing richer and govt's ever increasing salaries that many of us fail to focus on financials

Anonymous said...

i do feel to a certain extent that robert is making use of the fame from RDPD that his second book becomes lame.. he just keeps regurgitating the same stuff for 70% of the book,Cashflow Quadrant leaving only 30% worth readng.. zzzz

Mr Wang Says So said...

I think that the main plus point of Kiyosaki is that because of his writing style (informal, genial, anecdotal), he is able to take the topic of personal financial planning and present it in a way that is appealing & interesting to the layman.

That's a big plus point, because personal financial planning is often a sterile, dry and technical topic for the layman.

But really, apart from being able to arouse the layman's interest and spark his enthusiasm about planning his money, Kiyosaki doesn't offer that much ....

If you already have the interest in financial planning, you'd be better off with, say, The Intelligent Investor, one of the classics in this area.

Or, in the local context, the titiel "Personal Financial Planning" by Koh Seng Kee & Fong Wai Mun. The advantage of a "local" book is that it will deal with specific Singapore aspects - eg CPF, SRS, IRAS, SGX, which books by foreign authors won't.

Kiyosaki, btw, isn't very well-known for factual accuracy, and does have a reputation for hyperbole. For example, with respect to his most famous book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", some people believe that while Kiyosaki did have a "poor dad", he never had a "rich dad" - the "rich dad" was a purely fictional character.

If you wish to know more, click here and check out the "Criticism & Controversy" section.

Anonymous said...

fact or fiction, in the end what matters is the effect it has on readers.. his ultimate goal is for the people to start taking notice of their financial situations and where they are heading

i do agree that there are dubious points and hardly any detailed & convincing case studies to justify his points.. true as well that he tends to generalise the topics rather then provide further elaborations.. signs that he was running out of steam are glaring in his 2nd book.

Nonetheless, both my colleague and myself have gained another perspective to work and money.

i'd say that it has benefited me because i'm starting to develop interest in a topic that I once felt phobic and tiresome of and, which i'd taken for granted.

my colleague, who had introduced the book to me, was living proof of a reader whom that he had inspired and helped. she was spurred to understand property and stock markets and i know today, she is 'financially wealthy' (in robert's context) and on her way to 'financial freedom' =) (she read the book much earlier than me)

anyhow, thanks for the recommendations.
i'll pick up those reads on my way to work.

hope that all of us can get out of the rat race and turn this country into Babylon!

and Mr Wang, now that you are in investment business, perhaps you can share with us what you learn from there, i'm sure it'll be valuable to everyone.

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