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CFS plans to tackle financial management diversity in different countries through expansion

By Natalie Morrison , 25-Jan-2012
Last updated the 25-Jan-2012 at 15:05 GMT

Clinical Financial Services (CFS) has made its first foray into the global market after opening a new office in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Philadelphia, US, based firm – which specialises in the management of finances and grant payments for clinical trials – says the move is a bid to gain clients initially in Europe, then later in other markets.

April Mulroney, who is the new VP of global tax, treasury and client services, told Outsourcing-Pharma the firm plans to attract new business by broadening its knowledge of outer-US transactions.

She told us the firm began to realise it must extend its experience globally when it first started operating in markets other to the US and Canada in 2010 and issues unique to different countries became apparent.

“Issues such as financial foreign exchange, different measures required to issue grant payments to research sites, tax issues we don’t come up against in the US, making sure credits are recoverable – for instance R&D (research and development) credits available in the UK – all began to flag up,” she said.

“Regulatory tax compliance also changes from country to country, and so does general regulation. There are different filing systems, different legal sectors, and different sorts of contracts. We had to make sure we had the resources to manage the different finances.”

The company now hopes its new resource, “dedicated to tackling these issues”, will be a stepping stone as its growth outside the US continues.

Mulroney added that CFS is looking to further its reach within the next three years, with a specific interest in the ever popular Asia-Pacific market.

A battle with the big boys?

Recently, Outsourcing-Pharma reported Quintiles’ expansion in financial management with its deal as financiers for Intarcia over its Type 2 therapy, ITCA 650 DUROS for the continuous subcutaneous delivery of exenatide. Under the deal, Quintiles also has a hand in the financial strategy of the project.

We questioned whether CFS was worried about other big contract research organisations (CROs) following suit, and if it could hinder smaller finance management services bods.

“We’re not concerned at all,” Mulroney replied. “Part of the CRO strategy, and part of their success, is because they aim to provide a one-stop-shop for sponsors. Finances is a natural move for CROs. However CFS is quite different.

“We’ve taken just two issues within the clinical trial and business and focussed only on those. We make grant payments for the company, and deal with contract and budget management. Most CROs wouldn’t really touch this, so there’s very little overlap.”

Aiswariya Chidambaram, research analyst for Healthcare Frost & Sullivan, echoed the opinion that CROs who wade into the world of finance management would not be a threat, however she cited a different reason.

“Big CROs are trying to expand in the financial sector to attract more clients, but from my experience I feel this wouldn’t be a growing trend in the future,” she said.

“With the economic down turn and other factors I don’t see a very big future for CROs in financial services management. I don’t think big CROs would go for this kind of thing unless it was something that would help them get a big firm on board who specifically wanted them to handle this sort of thing.”

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