Kris Buckham – Outsourcing Financial Institutions Ten Years Ago

Ep 156 Kris Buckham

In this episode, Derek is joined by Kris Buckham the founder of Cooee.  Join us as Derek deep dives and talks about Kris’ background in terms of corporate arena and also shared services.



  • Kris grew up in Australia and spent years overseas.  In 2002, he got a job in Deutsche Bank for 15 years.
  • After leaving Deutsche Bank, Kris decided to market for management and brain coaching and also kind of a high touch, high-value BPO within the space.
  • Kris share his insight about the shared services before and how it’s really changed in the last 10 years.
  • He also explains the fundamental task that they started when they built their company.
  • He also give his thoughts on the SMEs process of integration and process refinement.
  • Kris briefly gives an overview of Cooee and the inspiration that led him to start this company.


Key Points:

  • The name Cooee is used as a call, a call to attract attention and it’s typically used in the outback regions of Australia.
  • Philippines now is incredibly sophisticated in terms of outsourcing.
  • Qantas and  Cebu Pacific do very frequent flights from Australia to the Philippines and really upping the trade relations between the two countries immensely.




[read more=”Read Full Transcript” less=”Hide Transcript”]

Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode 156 and my name is Derek Gallimore. So today I am joined by Kris Buckham of Cooee. You will hear what Cooee means if you’re not familiar with that word in this podcast. Kris is a fellow Australian and we actually lived in the same building in Manila, what are the chances. Kris has a fascinating background in terms of corporate arena, but also shared services and has traveled around the world with that career and now has his own outsourcing advisory kind of BPO and startup. So really interesting conversation with Kris, I’m sure you will enjoy it. So if you want to get in touch with Kris or know any more about this podcast, go to our show notes at enjoy.


Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody, today I have Kris Buckham here of Cooee which we’ll find all about today. How are you, Kris?


Kris: Good Derek, thanks for having me.



Derek: Good and you’re a fellow Australian, actually living in the same suburb of Manila as I and we’re both at Rockwell and we actually bump into each other in the elevator. So it’s an amazingly small world in some regards in Manila.


Kris: It is, more and more we’re seeing a lot of Aussies over in this part of the world.


Derek: Yeah I’m amazed actually and maybe we can talk about that but there’s disproportionately high representation of Australians in the outsourcing world in Manila and I think they’re really sort of running with it, it’s amazing.


Kris: Yeah it is, absolutely.


Derek: Cool so we are going to have a chat about Cooee which is your effectively high touch BPO but also management and brain based coaching for BPOs and clients here. I’m sure you can explain it much better than I. But I suppose initially do you wanna just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background that led you to where you are now.


Kris: Sure, I obviously grew up in Australia but similar to yourself Derek, I spent a lot and most of my career actually abroad. I moved to London like a lot of Australians do and to do my much 2 years and I got a job with Deutsche Bank and that was 2002 and that role then took me back to Asia, to Tokyo, Singapore and then 10 years ago to Manila. So yeah, a bit of a world tour with Deutsche Bank 15 years with the bank in total. I suppose I got out to Manila 2008 set out to specifically to help in the growth of the shared services which was a couple of years old at that point and growing quite rapidly and so that’s how I ended up in this part of the world and it’s been a great journey, I love it here, I love the Philippines, I really love it  since day 1. I came here as a single man and now i’m married, my wife was from here, we have 2 young boys so it’s certainly it’ been a life changing posting that one. Great journey.


Derek: Congratulations. And now you as you work with your wife with Cooee which is your, after leaving Deutsche Bank, you sort of found a space in the market for both management brain coaching but also kind of a high touch, high-value BPO within the space. Is that right?


Kris: Yeah that’s right. So we co-founded Cooee a year ago, I suppose the name itself is quite interesting to people probably outside Australia, it’s distinctly Australian word not a lot of people maybe know what it meant so it’s actually a Cooee is used as a call, a call to attract attention and it’s typically will be used in the outback regions of Australia or in the bush and the sound can travel long distances. Actually the first time Pia heard it, we were down visiting my parents in Sydney and my mom was downstairs and she yelled out Cooee and got my Dad’s attention and Pipi just gave me this weird look and I said that’s mom getting Dad’s attention to get a coffee or something and he cooeed back. By this point, she was giving me all sort of strange looks.


Derek: I spent many years in Australia but like cooee is kind of anglicize, I supposed very anglicize now, but was it a like a very old sort of aboriginal kind of calling from the bush was it?


Kris: That’s exactly right yeah.


Derek: Fascinating, anyway. Let’s go back a little bit and I really want to dive into your experience with outsourcing now. You work for Deutsche Bank bank in 2002, you started, you kind of move to Asia and Tokyo, Singapore, Manila. You started the shared services, well you joined this shared services in Manila. Which for those people listening out there, shared services is effectively outsourcing but within a captive environment for one, whatever organization so effectively Deutsche Bank is doing all of their outsourcing but within a structure that they are in control in the Philippines but in effect they’re similar things and refer to here as shared services. But you and I kind of preach to the people here that outsourcing really is only 20-25 years old and so suddenly Deutsche Bank got into it pretty early and that’s very common what we see, you know see this sort of multinationals, the big wealthy companies getting into outsourcing early and it really wasn’t available to the SMEs and smaller companies until much more recently. But can you paint a picture of what you saw shared services being in those early days and how it’s really changed in the last 10 years I supposed that you’ve been involved with?


Kris: Yeah absolutely. My first exposure was would have been like 2004 and that was when Deutsche Bank first made their move into Manila and set up their interview with Deutsche knowledge services. They started with a handful of roles and I was fortunate to have been involved in one of those migrations when we moved the team from Sydney to Manila. Back in those days, we were all doing it for the first time really. So I supposed the documentation, the governance, how you went about things was kinda learning as we went along but through 2005 -2006 that’s when they really started to ramp up the operation, take more roles from the specific high-cost locations like London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong etc and really started build out the entity but certainly at that point I would say in terms of the global investment banks they would, the early big player really here. There was definitely a presence in India but Manila they were definitely one of the first. And then we started to see some of the other banks follow in the coming years.


Derek: It’s incredible to think isn’t it that the entire industry is only 20 years old and really couldn’t exist before kind of a photo booth, telephony and then obviously the invent of the internet but you’re talking only 10 years ago and from what I hear a lot of stories like kind of 10-15 years ago there wasn’t a lot of sophistication and as you said people are kind of  figuring it out as they go along compared to today where the Philippines now is incredibly sophisticated in terms of outsourcing, process outsourcing and making more sophisticated process. What were you guys doing? it’s called knowledge services but does that imply it is knowledge or did you guys go down the original or more common route of call centers, customers assistance, What are the fundamental task that you started with?


Kris: We started with operational, operations of finance, back office. So PNL processes financial reporting, reconciliations, supporting global finance function and operations functions then over time they started to add in more support around technology to our team. Project management, Business Analyst and within finance base they would take on year on year, take on more complexity I supposed a key year was 2008. The financial crisis is really brought about an accelerated set of migrations because of what was going on in the hub locations and needs to really ramp up the support out of Manila and the sites in India. So that sort of a huge amount of work come over in that period a lot more complexity you further up the value chain and they really continue to do that year on year as have the other young banks sort of all come in. So you now created this market here for, you have pretty highly complex, you have financial reporting product control, operations type functions which is been great for the market previously before outsourcing really had. Those roles existed within one core organization then they would have traded the complexity of products Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan did, therefore, you’re able to enhance the skill set of thousands of people working in this market which is incredible.


Derek: Yeah there’s an incredible upskilling that were seeing before it was just call centers and cold calling and people doing pretty kind of a monotonous stuff but as you say there’s a continual upskilling and people as well, the companies here can afford to invest in their teams potentially more because the game is so much more because the starting cost is so much less.


Kris: Yep.


Derek: I supposed we don’t need to give endorsements to Deutsche bank.  Can you then reflect on some of the challenges and some of those clear gains for starting a shared knowledge services and then also how do you think those things relate to big business versus kind of small business, are they the same or does it differentiate?


Kris: Yes Sure. I supposed there’s historically being a challenged around in the image and the branding of Deutsche and other banks have battled with in terms of how do you, what is the image sought out here as you can continue to grow are you certain to use the word service centre for example. We found that this word service centre to have a negative connotation with guys in Frankfurt or in London where Deutsche Bank started in and they were all JP Morgan staff, all the Macquarie staff. How do you set up the image of this side here and then also the transformation of the roles that have previously sat on shore, what is the future state role for someone in Sydney or in Singapore so it’s all those challenges of business we have to go through. I think that years go on is business gotten better at it because is a little more clarity now in terms this is the way we are going. In Manila is not gonna be a 2 or 3-year project it’s gonna be a multi-decade project. We certainly saw things would come and go and I think you do see that in the market here, the big operations will move functions between in Manila into India or to Birmingham or to their nearshore as it requires. So I think there’s always a bit of lifting and moving that goes on so that, but generally, the place is here to stay, the figures speak for themselves in terms of the growth and year on year and so. I think most of the business have really no choice but getting to embrace it and really put effort into this is part of our franchise moving forward.


Derek: Yes definitely happening, I think business is all over the world to realizing actually this is the new norm really, this is employment on a world basis not just a kind of 2-year project. Do you see, things can be very different in the big end of town with the big boys with thousands of staff but do you see a lot this is very different and how can you see SMEs relating to these processes, this sort of process of integration and process refinement.


Kris: What I saw the last year I think there’s, I think I would take it generally to be more positively because you’re a lot closer to the detail. I think when you are offering that SME market versus the big corporations that are doing a 100 and 200 roles at a time. When you’re talking about 5 or a 6, there’s a need to be very engaged in that detail and it’s everything is at stake to really make sure that it works, mitigate all your risk which is a very high-quality output, from what I’ve seen the small players here seems to be very engaged. I see a lot of, I mean a great example for me which I have noticed over the last 10 years ago when I moved here, Qantas, our national airline have two flight a week to Manila I think one of the operations now there are 6 flight a week and they are full all the time and besides people go to Boracay and we won’t be going there for the next six months. It’s driven by this sector and it’s just people going visit the team, spend time in their shared services, the BPO that I used. So I think there’s definitely an engagement level that really improves a lot.


Derek: Yeah it’s huge isn’t it. And Cebu Pacific do very frequent flights as well and it really is upping the trade relations between the two countries immensely.


Derek: Fantastic, and then I wanna get you back Kris so that we can deep dive more into Cooee but give us a brief overview of Cooee and kind of what gave you the inspiration to start this.


Kris: Pia and I are very passionate about people, people development you know flourishing human potential something we love about our roles when we both work to the bank and as managers and Pia left the bank many years before me but she spend that time in the last years building a brain based coaching program because we feel that there’s an opportunity there to try get manager team leads in the market here whether there in big captives or small call centers wherever they are, local companies even, to try connect more the social human side of leadership and so with those programs that we started running with companies here and an opportunity arose to get in the BPO sector via a client in Australia we said well right now is the time to do it and so we were allowed by having both of us a consultancy business, we were out training and offer training programs and coaching, we also have big,  we have a team that live by those values every day with our own team and with our clients as well. Certainly having clients in Australia we really emphasize out the focus we have on people on social part of brain and that’s quite born to us.


Derek: Fantastic. As I mention I wanna get you back and we can deep dive into that. If anybody wants to chat or connect with you in the meantime how can they do that?


Kris: Sure our website is, we’re also on Facebook.


Derek: All of those links in the notes, So thank you so much Kris.


Kris: Thanks Derek, appreciated it.


Ok that was Kris Buckham of Cooee if you wanna get in touch with Kris or know anymore about this podcast episode then go to and as always if you wanna ask anything then just drops us an email to [email protected] see you next time.


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