Caterpillar outsources finance operations to Accenture

11 October 2019 3 min. read

Belfast’s local economy looks set to lose out on around 100 jobs, after news broke that machinery manufacturer Caterpillar is set to outsource its financial services capacity. The firm will partner with Accenture – which does not have a finance operations unit in Northern Ireland – to deliver the service, suggesting the jobs will head overseas ahead of Brexit.

Brexit uncertainty and an economic slowdown have recently seen Britain’s construction industry “drop like a stone” to record its worst performance in more than 10 years. Signs of recovery look scarce, and some are now calling for drastic action – including tax cuts and public spending – to revive the construction sector’s growth prospects, as a potential No Deal withdrawal from the EU looms large. 

A number of companies in the sector have gone belly-up in recent times due to these pressures. Amid this, many firms across the UK have sought ways to downsize their expenditure, and tighten their belts for an expected economic downturn. Caterpillar has become the latest example of this, with the global construction machinery expert confirming it is set to outsource its financial services operations, currently centred in West Belfast.

Caterpillar outsources finance operations to Accenture

Caterpillar is a significant manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland and has had a finance centre in the region since 2005, employing around 100 staff in the call-centre. Now, it is feared that those jobs could well be lost, with the firm instead opting to pay professional services giant Accenture to undertake its provision of financial services, from overseas.

The partnership between Caterpillar and Accenture will therefore ultimately lead to a transition of work currently performed at Caterpillar over to multiple Accenture finance operation locations. Despite being listed on the island of Ireland, Accenture does not have a finance operations presence in Northern Ireland. According to the BBC, Belfast staff were briefed accordingly by US and UK managers, being told that redundancy packages would be on offer.

A spokesperson for Caterpillar said, "The company informed employees of its decision to move to a global process model and partner with Accenture for the delivery of select finance and accounting activities. This partnership will lead to a transition of work currently performed at multiple Caterpillar finance operation locations to multiple Accenture finance operation locations."

Belfast has seen its economy rocked by continued economic and political uncertainty in 2019. This saw building giant Patton, tobacco company JTI Gallaher, and tyre manufacturer Michelin all exit the location amid turbulent conditions, while the UK’s last bus manufacturer Wrightbus collapsed into administration in September.