Derek is joined by Cliff Perez and they will give us a glimpse into the life of the people in the Philippines. They will also talk about Cliff’s experiences and journey in the outsourcing industry.
- Cliff showed a glimpse into the talent pool in the Philippines and shared with us his view of the outsourcing industry and its pros and cons.
- Cliff stayed in the seminary for 8 years and took law for a year.
- After a year in law school, Cliff started to look for a job. He applied to one company and got a job for a sales account. He worked for a well-known bank and sold credit card protection.
- After three months he became a part of the top sellers and then he was cross-trained to sell other products from other banks.
- There are types of BPOs, some offer seat leasing wherein they provide space and then the one that Cliff worked for which is a more sophisticated company working with bigger conglomerates.
- BPOs are well known here as an easy-to-get kind of work. However, aside from that, it pays really well.
- There are misconceptions and a false perception from the West which is slave labor mentality when in reality BPOs are actually paying good money to their employees.
- According to Cliff, if you’re new in this industry people would probably prefer to join a big company because everything is all set up. But if you get up the ladder and you know the system and the organization you would start looking for other options that would give you higher pay but more responsibilities, so that would be the captive setup.
- Cliff’s first stint in the captive set up was for a consulting company based in the Bay Area in San Francisco. Their company did consulting work and research. His main work was to hire industry experts and he would set up a meeting with their hedge fund managers. So, the company earns by having tips from these experts so that the hedge fund managers can tell their clients where to put their money in.
- Outsourcing isn’t just about getting your admin and telesales done. It’s much more than that. You can have a team of bright people and you can point them in any direction.
- Their company set up is they’re just partnering with a hedge fund manager. So, they get paid by the hedge fund for giving them, experts. So, in return, they pay the experts $300 per hour just to talk about the industry that they specialize in.
- Cliff has 12 years’ worth of experience in the BPO industry and a wealth of knowledge in the BPO sector.
- BPOs have 24/7 operations.
- In big BPOs, their staff gets trained, even those who came from the same industry and they use scripts.
- BPOs offer competitive salary packages as opposed to what some people from the West think.
Hi and welcome to another episode of Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode 51. Today, I’m joined by Cliff Perez, he is a Senior employee within the outsourcing world. He has worked in outsourcing for 12 years. You’ll hear his back story here but he also trained in the seminary and he then became a lawyer. He spent most of his career within the outsourcing world. So, really interesting insight into someone at the coalface of outsourcing. And Cliff is a Filipino, he is a fantastic manager and I think you can learn a lot from the skills and caliber over here in the Philippines. If you want any of the show notes please go to it’s a new URL outsourceaccelerator.com/51.
Derek: Today I am joined by Cliff Perez. Hi Cliff.
Cliff: Hi Derek.
Derek: I want to give the listeners out there a glimpse into the life of people in the Philippines and Cliff you have built a very successful career from the outsourcing industry and you’ve now been working in the outsourcing industry for how many years?
Cliff: Yeah more than 10 years, 12 years to be exact.
Derek: And I’ve known you some years and you are a fantastic operator within that sector. So, I just like to give people a glimpse into the talent pool out there or out here in the Philippines and also get your view on the outsourcing industry and the pros and cons of it, really. So, I suppose initially could you give us a quick intro and how did you find yourself ending up in the BPO sector.
Cliff: Well yeah. I stayed in the seminary for 8 years. And then after that I took up law for a year and then I was like you know paying for everything at school and after one year I just saw myself like really with no money at all. So, I said I have to work. And then during that time that was like 2005. I think we don’t have lots of you know BPO companies yet set up here in the Philippines but there are quite some companies that are gaining you know recognition already. So, I applied to one company and then the good thing is that they do one-day process. So, I got a job for a sales account. So, it was a bank. A well-known bank that I worked for so I was selling credit card protection. And then yeah.
Derek: So that was a back-office function of a Western Bank.
Cliff: Exactly. That’s correct. And I think three months staying with that account. So, we call them accounts, so we work for one BPO company but you get hired for different accounts. So, like one BPO company can have probably like 50 accounts inside the umbrella. So, I was working for this bank. And then after three months, I was part of the like the top sellers like the dream team and then I was cross-trained to sell other products from other banks. So. As far as I can remember I was cross-trained for like five banks. I was selling card protection and a mix of credit card selling as well.
Derek: So, and so just deep diving into that you were what cold calling people in the U.S.
Derek: To sell the product.
Cliff: Exactly. So, we have different products that we’re selling. So, some are targeting you know high level individuals like that some time where we’re selling credit card for only General Motors owner. So, like if you have a GM car then we will probably be selling you something, a credit card but we’re also servicing some other markets like the under-served markets those who have bad credit profile or something. So just to ease up the load of paying all the debt.
Derek: So really you targeted segmentation of clients.
Derek: I mean one thing that people maybe don’t realize is what and we talk about this on this podcast but there’s very different types of BPO. Some of them are just pretty much seat leasing where they provide space and then the one that you worked for which is a bigger sophisticated one working with bigger conglomerates. They pretty much handle all of the process for that business, is that right? They build out the process they train you guys, they generate the KPI and so these big conglomerates they’re basically buying all of the skill of these BPOs and the experience they have.
Cliff: Yeah, that’s true. So, they’re actually two different worlds when it comes to setting up your business here. Because I’ve been to both worlds already. Like when I started I was hired for like you know a big conglomerate and all you have to do is to learn everything, everything would be given to you like spoon-feeding you from training to everything even the scripts. So, you have to be verbatim when you do when you say a script so you cannot sell it using your own words. You have to follow the regulation and everything else. But the other side is that you can also set up your business and like have the people that you hire from here do everything for you. Like if you don’t have processes yet then we have very good you know management skills from you know a lot of talents here that they can provide everything for you. And then all you have to do is just to Okay say Okay this is good or you have to revise this and then yeah.
Derek: You sort of agree on the outcomes.
Derek: Like they figure out how to get there. And what I find amazing is that you’re drawing on the experience of these BPOs and the skilled staff within them. And they’ve been doing it 20, 25 years so that’s a huge experience and talent pool in the Philippines that there’s this kind of stuff.
So just getting back to your beginning so you’re in the seminary for eight years and then you did law
Derek: And then you started in your first BPO. So, you’d really had already a lifetime of experience and you went to BPO.
Cliff: Well yeah, I think a lot of people are like that. Coz. Well it’s not that just BPOs are already well known here as you know as an easy to get kind of work. But I think aside from that the other good fact is that it pays really well. So, let’s say if you just need funding for your education some would really go out you know the extra mile to work let’s say night shift and then just provide for their studying.
So then again after that if they finish whatever they’re taking then it can be nursing, it could be law school. And then eventually they leave the BPO work and then just do whatever their profession is.
Derek: Because the funny thing about BPO work it’s pretty much 24/7 operation so you’re trying to get a shift whenever you want.
Cliff: That’s true. Yeah.
Derek: To give us an insight then I mean you say it’s good money. And so, there’s a misconception and a false perception from the West that there’s kind of a slave labor mentality but the BPOs are actually paying very good money.
Cliff: That’s true.
Derek: And it sort of is quickly building the economy.
Derek: Can you like, I mean this was 10 years ago and it was like your sort of first career.
Derek: How much were you earning back then?
Cliff: I was earning 13,000php. And well just to put that into perspective. I have an uncle who’s working in like a normal big company here you know packaging you know refreshments. And he’s earning 13,000 in 2017. And I was thinking that was my first salary when I started the BPO. And I think even you know professors or teachers here in the Philippines would still get around 13 to 15,000. But right now, I think BPO would probably give you know a rank and file employee around 16 maybe 18,000 a month. So, still really competitive.
Derek: It’s incredible.
Derek: And then if you go there’s more and more outsourcing operations in the provinces. And so, it gets to the salaries get cheaper and cheaper but that is because it’s you know there is a lower cost of living.
Cliff: That’s true.
Derek: In the provinces as well. Okay great. And then. Where did you go from there? So, you developed through the ranks. These BPOs as well are notably they offer a lot of training for a lot of career development and they kind of want to push you up the ladder.
Cliff: That is true. So, after maybe a year and a half. I was really good in selling. But I think that’s like the first indication for them to really look into like promoting someone. So, if you can do the job well then probably we can train you to be a better manager or something. So. I was promoted. And then was part of the mid-level management and then that’s where it all started. It’s just that something happened so I have to stop working. So, I had to take care of my mom. And then after like six months I got back to work. And then my first experience to handle like an inbound account. So, sales would be more of outbound because you call the clients. So inbound would be them calling us and then you provide the assistance. So, I worked for an insurance company for General Motors. So that’s my first inbound experience but I joined the team as an escalation agent right away. So, not a rank and file anymore. So yeah then of course everyone that comes in or joins in a certain account has to be trained first. So even if you have background or previous background of the same work you still need to undergo a certain process of training. And after that you get onboarded and then you do the work. So yeah, I stayed there for like a couple of months. And then I was promoted to become a supervisor. And then that was a time that I was given an opportunity to become an associate for another account so I was handling two accounts one for the insurance and another is a big bank in the West. So. We started handling their first 1,000 agents and then they got the top 200 before they started their own office here in the Philippines.
Derek: And so, I know that you’ve had experience with both big outsourcing accounts but then also smaller kind of captive outsourcing accounts. What was the biggest account you’ve worked for? How many staff do they have over?
Cliff: The biggest account would be that with Jimmy CI and the bank with this J.P. Morgan. So, I was handling as a supervisor I was handling around 60 agents but the whole account is like 300 here in Manila. But they also have one in the countryside in Cebu. So that’s around 200. So probably around 500 agents that we have back then.
Derek: And that BPO how many staff would that BPO have?
Cliff: Thousands. Like, yeah probably ten thousand. Yes.
Derek: That’s huge.
Cliff: Yeah that’s really huge.
Derek: People in the West I don’t think we’re used to numbers on that scale anymore. Cause everything is so trimmed down. And then so, how would you compare and contrast working for big BPO where there’s a lot of systems and a lot of processes but you’re probably a bit more of a cog in a wheel versus a, the smaller captives, smaller startup mentality. But there’s probably more stress, less structure.
Cliff: Yeah, yeah. Well. Yeah if you’re new in the business or in this industry you would probably prefer to join a big company because everything is all set up. But if you get up the ladder of the you know the system or you know the organization you would start looking for other options that would probably give you a higher pay but more responsibilities of course so that would be the captive setup. So, there you have to think about everything on a daily basis. Some of them would have you know an existing process that you have to follow. But as a manager if you will be joining that account you have to be responsible in you know tweaking the process and making sure that it would work more for the company. So, my first stint in the captive account was for a consulting company based in the Bay Area in San Francisco. So, we’re doing consulting work and more of research. So, the main work is to hire industry experts that we can catch on and you know set up a meeting with our hedge fund managers. So basically, we earn by having tips from these experts so that the hedge fund managers can tip their clients where to put their money in. So like back then I can remember if like two thousand.
Derek: So, you had this shop where basically you were producing the inside information so the hedge fund manager could sound bright to their clients.
Cliff: Yeah exactly and that stint ended because of the big insider trading kind of thing in Wall Street. So, we stopped that because eventually it might just you know run after us. But yeah it was really good coz.
Derek: What sort of. So, you’re investigating you were digging into news stories and trying to get the inside.
Cliff: Yeah that’s just one example I think it was 2007. Apple’s right really coming up it’s a big pair already in the mobile market. So, they have a tip that they would be coming out with a tablet. And back then when you say a tablet you don’t know what a tablet is. Right. And then what they wanted to know is how can they make that big screen for a tablet. And we have to look for the manufacturer. And of course, the supplier that would come up with it. So, we ended up you know. Getting in touch with gorilla glass and now they’re really big and they’re in China. So, we have to talk to the engineer and then have a translator because it’s pure Chinese and then speak to a hedge fund manager. And then I think the rest is history like tablet or you know.
Derek: That’s intriguing. And so, the listeners out there the business owners and this is what I preach. Outsourcing isn’t just about getting your admin done and your telesales it’s so much more like when you can have a team of you know super switched on bright people. You can point them in any direction you can do pretty advanced research in pretty advanced sectors.
Cliff: Yeah. That’s true. Back then I was a research administrator so I was handling five different industries. So, I was tasked with all of marketing including OOH or out of office kind of marketing. I was also handling mobiles, solar industry, healthcare and tech. So, everything that would come up in those industries like solar panels. How would you have what you call this cheaper option for solar panels then we were researching for that. We’re looking for the industry experts and then we just pass it on to our vetting managers in the states and then just carry on with the job. Just all we have to do is to find experts and then dispatch it on to them. That’s how we earn, we pay the experts. But I know we’re getting paid more for the information that we’re getting.
Derek: So just. I mean I don’t know how you can dive into that but that was a captive account funded by the hedge fund.
Cliff: No, so the company set up and were just partnering with a hedge fund manager. So, I think we get paid by the hedge fund for giving them experts. So, in turn we pay the experts every hour like $300 per hour just to talk about the industry that they’re in.
Derek: Right. And your firm then was like a research firm that did all of the groundwork. How many of you were in the firm?
Cliff: So, I’m the research admin so we have like the real boss was partnered with the one in the US and then my wife back then was the scheduler manager. So, what we do is just we look for the experts and then they pass it on to the schedulers and then the schedulers would set up the meeting with the hedge fund managers. So, we’re about like 12 people and doing the whole thing. Yeah.
Derek: And can I ask how much were you getting paid?
Cliff: So, since that’s captive so that’s what I was telling earlier. So, if you’re in a big company you will be probably getting around 20, 20-ish. But here I’m getting 50,000 as a basic salary and for every expert that I can put in I get two thousand for every expert. If they’re really great I get 5000 and that’s uncapped. Right. So back then I was already earning six digits just because of you know the experts that I can put in.
Derek: Wow. Amazing, I really appreciate this insight. So, we’re gonna have you back in a couple of weeks and we’re gonna discuss part two of your career.
Cliff: No worries.
How is that? A good conversation with Cliff and if you want any of the show notes please go to www.outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode51. If you want to ask us anything please do send us an email to [email protected]
Listen to more podcast episodes here:
- Activation Consultation 4.0 – Managing a Filipino Workforce
- Sunshine de Leon – Showcasing Philippine Talent to the World
- Jim Yuan – Perception vs Reality of the Philippines