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Strong year for financial shared services sector Back  
1998 was a very successful year for the IDA in attracting financial shared services centres into Ireland.
Sea-Land, Xerox and Andersen Consulting, joined a list that includes Microsoft, Allergan, Whirlpool, UPS, EDS, Electrolux, Bankers Trust and Merrill Lynch, in establishing shared services centres in Ireland.

Among the recent arrivals to the shared services sector in Ireland is Sea-Land Service Inc, the largest US container ship operator. This project is one of the most significant of this type of project to come to Ireland.

The company recently established a pan-European shared services centre in Cork, to service its European markets. It is expected the project will create up to 300 jobs within 3 years and additional jobs later. The centre will be responsible for a range of pan-European services, including customer service, procurement, finance, documentation, information technology and claims.

The finance function within the operation will account for 60 of the total of 300 staff, and will be involved in general accounting, accounts payable, and credit control in treasury and collectables, for the company’s operations in Europe. The centre will be using Oracle Financials as its core system and the push is on to recruit staff for the finance function, according to Patricia Kennedy, human resource manager.

‘We need to get finance up and running at an early stage so we can we move to the Oracle system and become Year 2000 compliant,’ she says.

‘The whole ethos of the operation in Cork is that of the support function. The main finance function base is in Rotterdam, but having accounts, documentation and customer service under the one roof means we can deliver a consistent approach to our customers,’ she says.
Initially the Centre will be servicing the Nordic countries, Benelux, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, UK and Ireland.

David Sage, European finance director will head up the finance function, and general manager, Bill Deaver, is set to take up his position early in the New Year. The centre in Cork is being established as part of Sea-Land’s strategy to centralise its European administration and customer support service operations. It currently operates these services on a local office basis across European countries and the centralisation is regarded as a major priority in order to improve productivity, enhance customer service and increase global competitiveness.

Among the other significant financial shared services centres to establish in 1998 were Andersen Consulting, who established their European Shared Services Centre in Dublin, and Xerox Corporation, who established shared services and technical support activities at Dundalk and Dublin.

The Xerox announcement was part of a multi-project business, incorporating manufacturing, shared services and technical support activities at Dundalk and Dublin, which will create 2,200 jobs in total over the next 5 years. The shared services centre will be located in Dublin, along with the customer support operation. Some customer financing, in particular leasing, and treasury management will be based in the IFSC.

The financial services include revenue accounting, accounts payable and pan-European standards and controls. Customer administration and contract management and billing, credit and collections and logistics are also part of the shared finance function.

According to Xerox, 450 to 500 of the total job commitment will be in these finance areas.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Tanaiste Mary Harney said, ‘the decision is one of the most important endorsements in recent years by a leading global company of the successful and pro-business environment in Ireland.’

The decision came after a global business review had been carried out by the company to maximise efficiency and customer service, to reduce operating costs and to develop a strongly focused approach to future markets, based to an increasing extent on digital technology.
The Andersen Consulting project involves the establishment of a European shared services centre, creating 350 jobs over the next 3 years. The centre will feature a ‘Showcase’ facility which will be used by Andersen Consulting as a key element in their marketing and business development with their clients worldwide.

The centre will provide a wide range of support functions, such as financial processing, procurement, information technology development and support and human resources administration services, for Andersen Consulting in 16 countries throughout Europe. It will also be Andersen Consulting’s worldwide ‘Centre of Knowledge’ for Shared Services.

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