Thanks mainly to lower costs, availability of skilled workforce, reveal consultants

Long renowned as a manufacturing base, Chennai is fast-emerging as an investment destination for services companies in the banking and financial space.

“Due to a number of factors — cost, infrastructure, and availability of skilled personnel — there has been a move away from cities such as Mumbai and Delhi NCR into other cities. In the last six months, we’ve seen a number of clients express interest in setting up their business hubs in Chennai or expanding their presence in the city,” said Tulika Tripathi, Managing Director for Michael Page India, a specialist recruitment consultancy firm.

Outlining the drivers for the shift to Chennai, she said the city’s infrastructure and connectivity with international and regional locations were key factors.

In addition, lower costs in establishing a base in Chennai, and presence of a strong, local technical pool were differentiators vis-à-vis other cities. Also, the policies of the State Government were investor-friendly, she added.

Another recruitment consultant, Teamlease, too has echoed a positive outlook on Chennai.

According to Teamlease’s latest employment survey for the July-September quarter, Chennai recorded the best growth in hiring out of any Indian city over the last four quarters. The business outlook for financial services in Chennai was better than in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Pune.

But the hiring prospects in the BFSI space dimmed a bit during the quarter under review, as per Teamlease. In the previous quarter, Chennai trumped other major cities in BFSI hiring prospects, barring Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

Off-shored work

Tripathi says there is an opportunity for India to garner a larger slice of work off-shored by multinational companies amid the global slowdown. “One of the top-most priorities around the world this year is cost optimisation, followed by process optimisation… As a result, we’ve seen the advent of new job creation because of this global slowdown,” she says.

What is more, a lot of multinationals want to increase their exposure to India and China, because of a growing middle class and domestic demand. Tripathi says a skilled workforce is the country’s strength. “If you look at 10 years ago, we were basically just doing customer service.

“And what India has done quite well is garner client relationships to move up the value chain. So we’ve gone from being just part of an organisation’s support systems to being part of the core functions.”

“It has gone from being a more reactive function for cost optimisation, to a place where we are harbouring talent and harnessing innovation, within finance and operations,” she says.

“There is big demand for finance professionals at the moment,” she points out. Chartered accountants with 6-8 years of experience are currently much sought after, particularily in the areas of MIS, financial control and reporting, she emphasised.

(This article was published on November 30, 2012)
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