A multi-millionaire investor has warned Australian workers resisting coming back to the office that their remote roles can “absolutely” be outsourced to India for as little as 10 per cent of the cost. Iqbal Singh, founder of financial advisory firm Innovative Consultants, says Indian investors are increasingly looking at opportunities in Australia across finance, education, healthcare and minerals.
“We are the largest consumer market, so we are looking at these three or four areas we can collaborate and at the same time mutually benefit,” said Mr Singh, whose consulting firm based in northern India handles a large portfolio of family offices and clients.
“There definitely are a lot of alliances and collaboration that can be created, because we in India have a large workforce of resources who are working on the back-end.”
Overseas centres can support businesses “with more efficiency as well as at lower cost”, which Mr Singh estimates is “maybe around 10-15 per cent of whatever the current cost is”.
“Support staff, IT, finance, mortgages, all of those can be supported because of a lower-cost and at the same time English-speaking workforce,” he said.
With Australian firms battling rising inflation, interest rates and a sluggish economy, offshoring roles to India is “one of the largest opportunities”, Mr Singh suggested. Large corporations have faced employee resistance to winding back Covid-era work-from-home policies — leading some to observe that roles done remotely are at risk of being sent overseas.
“Absolutely they can be outsourced,” Mr Singh said.
It comes after a survey published on Monday suggested more than one-third of large Australian employers are planning to reduce the pay of staff who continue to work from home in the next three to five years.
“Ultimately the biggest problem across the world [countries are] grappling with is inflation,” Mr Singh said. “It is becoming much more difficult for those economies who have never seen these kinds of inflation numbers in the last 100 years … to have sustainability at these levels of inflation.”
Australia’s annual inflation rate fell to 5.4 per cent in three months to September, down from a peak of 7.8 per cent in the December quarter but far above the Reserve Bank’s target of 2-3 per cent.
In this environment “it becomes of paramount importance in these kinds of environments to become more efficient, to make the supply chain more efficient, and at the same time relying on those jobs which can be completely outsourced in a very cost-effective manner”, according to Mr Singh.
“One of the largest opportunities I personally feel is [for] institutions to outsource these kinds of opportunities in India,” he said.
Indian investment in Australia has soared 210 per cent since 2019 to $35 billion, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, while a record immigration boom is being driven by a surge in Indian students. Last week, Mr Singh joined a large delegation of 30 top Indian investors, along with others from the Middle East, Hong Kong and China, holding billions of dollars in capital, to attend the CapTech2023 conference in Sydney.
The business networking event included a Shark Tank-style session where two Australian and two international companies were selected to pitch to the global delegations. Rama Bhalla, president of the Sydney Investors and Professionals Business Network said business partners in the two countries were working in overdrive.
“India’s market size is so large and fast-growing that access is creating new opportunities for Australian businesses in growth and start-up phase,” Mr Bhalla said in a statement.
“Despite it historically being a relatively closed and protectionist economy, India is liberalising, and there is a strong desire to invest in Australian businesses. There’s a huge appetite for investment in Australia from Indian businesses right now.”
Mr Bhalla said key areas of interest were education, healthcare, clean energy, financial services, AI, real estate, agriculture, food processing and critical minerals.
“Investors also have their eye on western Sydney which is still under-represented and requires much-needed infrastructure,” he said.
The Indian delegation, which also included Sahil Makkar, chairman and CEO of Punjab Angels Network and Dr Atul Mehta, senior VP of sales at Razorpay, met with Western Sydney International Airport chief executive Simon Hickey, as well as attending other business presentations at Parramatta and Penrith Councils.
It comes as the Australian and Indian governments promote greater investment and mobility for students, researchers and businesses between the two countries. Earlier this year Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and Narendra Modi signed the Australia-India Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement, opening the doors to more Indian students as well as graduates and early-career professionals.
The Albanese government has also signed the Mechanism for Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, which covers a range of education qualifications including degrees and diplomas. Mr Singh said such agreements were “very, very important”. “India is the youngest country in the world, more than 65 per cent of people are under 30,” he said.
“There is a huge craze for youngsters to go overseas for their studies. Australia particularly is a very large destination for Indian students because they love the culture, they love the environment, the ecosystem, safety, security and at the same time to settle down permanently in these countries because they offer a great sense of security and opportunity.”
He said he would like to see “a lot of students gradually settle down here, to seek opportunities and work as entrepreneurs and build in this country”.
“These kinds of agreements will definitely help,” he said.