Seven Reasons Outsourced U.S. Bank IT Jobs Are Heading Back Onshore

Some bank IT jobs that have been outsourced for the past 10 years or so are coming back stateside, at least according to one expert. “A number of banks have told me they’re pulling back work from offshore, particularly from India but not only India,” says Harley Lippman, founder and chief executive of Genesis10, an IT consulting and staffing firm based in New York. “India is still the epicenter of IT work for major banks, although some work has gone to China, Eastern Brazil and other locations.”

Lippman doesn’t have numbers to back this observation. “I’m gathering that as we speak,” he says. “A lot of people are interested in that.”

Lippman’s own company has benefited from this trend, although he declined to name any bank clients. His firm is hiring in Troy, Michigan; Atlanta (where it just opened a new facility); Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Kansas City, Mo. “That’s all driven by bank client demand,” Lippman says.

Some banks are bringing the work back in house, but the majority are finding an onshore outsourcing provider, Lippman says. “In all banks there’s head-count pressure; there continues to be cost pressure, there’s pressure on execution and delivery for all the major banks,” he says. Outsourcing offers variable costs and the flexibility to ramp up and down as the volume of work fluctuates.

Offshoring made sense 10 years ago, when a New York City programmer might have cost $100 an hour, versus $15 an hour for a worker with similar skills in India, Lippman says. “Today it’s very different, the world is more flat,” he says. “Jeffrey Immelt,” the General Electric chief executive, “said there’s no more cheap labor; I found that quite significant.” Inflation is over 20% in India.

Why are banks turning from offshoring to onshoring? Lippman offers several reasons:

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Made in USA (Again): Why Manufacturing Is Coming Home

Eric Markowitz | Inc.com staff

Mismanaged supply chain decisions sent manufacturing overseas. But the industry has changed direction.

Returning to America: Zentech Manufacturing, a contract manufacturer based in Baltimore, is seeing more and more companies return their manufacturing to America.

When Anton Bakker launched his company, Offsite Networks, in 1999, he had no intention of manufacturing overseas. But a few years later, when his company began taking on larger orders, he began looking for cheaper supply alternatives.

That’s when he went to China.

By the early 2000s, Chinese contract manufacturers had become increasingly equipped to handle the type of advanced manufacturing that Offsite was producing—point-of-sale hardware for store loyalty programs, like high-tech printers and scanners. So in 2004, the company, which is based in Norfolk, Virgnia, canceled contracts with domestic suppliers and moved 90 percent of its manufacturing to suppliers based in China, Malaysia, and Tokyo. For the most part, Bakker was satisfied.

“The scale drove us to look for more competitive, cost-effective products,” Bakker says. “I had a difficult time doing that domestically. We found that the products were just not competitive in terms of pricing, and we could find them at less than half the price overseas.”

That narrative—of outsourcing, offshoring, and finding cheaper suppliers overseas—is not a new story.

But then something unexpected happened. In 2011, Offsite Networks moved their manufacturing back to America, finding a domestic supplier, Zentech Manufacturing, based in Baltimore, to carry out the company’s orders.

So what changed?

Bakker tells me the company returned for a variety of reasons. It was becoming more affordable to manufacture locally, he says, and American technology had improved rapidly. This meant that labor costs, which had initially driven Bakker to find cheap work overseas, were a smaller percentage of total costs. Meanwhile, an increase in other costs—like shipping, for instance—had increased. In other words, it was cheaper to manufacture locally.

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How to Save U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

By Howard Wial @CNNMoney February 23, 2012: 5:34 AM ET

Howard Wial is a fellow for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

At first glance, manufacturing jobs would appear to be a dying breed.

The United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. And despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in manufacturing employment for the last 30 years has been downward.

That has led some to argue that long-term job loss in the industry is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise.

There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S. manufacturing wages are too high to be internationally competitive. The other maintains that manufacturing job losses are the result of productivity growth. Both arguments are wrong. Read more of this post

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