WELLS FARGO says BPO operations vote of confidence in Philippines
By: DEXIM L. LUCAS
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday, March 11th, 2012
MANILA, Philippines—The decision of US-based Wells Fargo & Co. to set up their business process outsourcing operations in the Philippines is a vote of confidence in the quality of the local workforce, according to the firm’s officials in the country.
More importantly, the banking giant plans to further expand its newly opened BPO facility in McKinley Hill Cyberpark in Taguig City to accommodate triple the number of employees it currently has.
“At present, we employ 180 team members in our current facility, but this can house as many as 450 to 500 seats,” said Wells Fargo Philippines Solutions communications manager Theresa Lariosa in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “We have two floors in McKinley Hill for this, and we expect them to be fully occupied by yearend.”
She explained that the Philippine BPO unit of the US’ second-largest bank is also constructing a purpose-built building within the same Megaworld site, with completion of the first phase expected by early 2013.
“The first phase of that new building will be occupied by the first quarter of 2013, and it can accommodate up to 1,500 seats,” she said. “All in all, the facility will have three phases.”
Lariosa pointed out that the building plans indicated a “fast-growing” local operation for Wells-Fargo that has been seen to contribute significantly to the expected 120,000 new BPO employees in 2012.
At present, the Philippine BPO industry employs about 450,000 workers, mostly in call center facilities, making it the world’s leader in the sector, ahead of rival India. In recent years, however, industry leaders have begun to emphasize a shift in the local industry from call center work to higher value-added work like outsourced engineering, animation and IT services.
Lariosa said that Wells Fargo’s Philippine operations would serve only the needs of the US bank in terms of customer support, specifically the credit card concerns of its customers, as well as credit collection services.
“Magaling ang Pilipino (The Filipino is excellent),” she said. “We’re here because we believe in the skills of our BPO workers.”
The industry has the backing of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, which hopes to see some 1.3 million Filipinos employed in BPO centers by 2016. It also hopes to double the total of the industry’s revenues to around $25 billion during the same time frame.
These plans come amid a backlash in the US against the outsourcing by large corporations of back office work to cheaper locations like the Philippines and India, amid the high unemployment rate on the US mainland.
Outsourcing, in fact, has become a hot button issue in the ongoing political debate ahead of the November 2012 US presidential elections, with both main parties announcing plans to curb incentives for corporations to send back office work overseas.
Aquino administration officials believe, however, that the local BPO industry will continue to grow given the large supply of English-speaking college graduates in the Philippines who work in call centers for a fraction of what US-based employees would have to be paid for the same output.