SWISS banking software outfit Avaloq is poised to double its headcount in Edinburgh over the coming year as it taps into the city’s “highly skilled” pool of computing graduates.
The privately owned firm, which counts Royal Bank of Scotland’s Adam & Company and Coutts divisions among its clients, opened its Edinburgh development centre three years ago with a long-term goal of creating 500 jobs.
More than 60 people are currently employed at the company’s office at Tanfield, which is also home to fellow technology firms Craneware, FNZ and Zonal. Avaloq’s workforce is set to rise to 130 next year and the site’s managing director, Chris Zwicker, told Scotland on Sunday that further growth is in the pipeline.
“Our vision is still to have about 500 people in Scotland, but our medium-term goal is to have about 190 in this office,” Zwicker said.
He added: “The market here for talent is tight, and we’re competing against other big names so we need to make sure we provide a good environment for our people.”
Avaloq, which employs more than 1,000 people around the world, is headquartered in Zurich and the Edinburgh operation is its first development centre outside Switzerland. Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise worked with the firm for a year before it opened the office, providing recruitment and location advice, along with a “Training Plus” grant of £1.74 million.
Zwicker said: “We’re here to exploit the talent coming out of the universities, and the financial market is still very important to the UK. We mostly look for computing graduates and software engineers – analytical people who are interested in the banking business.
“We provide a complete banking suite that covers pretty much everything a bank does, such as back-office operations and customer relationship management. We’re very strong in private banking, because that’s where we come from in Switzerland.”
The group is headed by founder and chief executive Francisco Fernandez, who is also a major shareholder in the business, which was spun out of Swiss investment boutique BZ Bank in 2001.
Fernandez said at the time of Avaloq’s move into Edinburgh that the city had been chosen over international rivals “due to the wealth of potential graduate talent available in Scotland and the number of universities offering excellent degrees in software engineering”.
Zwicker said: “The universities here have a very good name and the city has a highly skilled labour market. It’s an important financial market in its own right and is also close to London.” As well as RBS’s private banking arms, the firm’s list of customers serving well-heeled clients includes Barclays Wealth, HSBC and Nomura.
As lenders look to cut their costs in the face of rising competition and tougher regulations, Zwicker said more are moving away from developing their own software in favour of buying in “off-the-shelf” packages, while at the same time outsourcing development work to concentrate on their core processes.
“This plays into what we do, as we’re moving into the business process outsourcing (BPO) space,” he said.
“This is mostly for banks, but we’re also looking at external asset managers, which is a growing industry.”
Avaloq last month launched a new BPO centre in Singapore, joining existing sites in Germany and Switzerland.
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