An Interview With Avaloq - Growth Ambitions
Avaloq is a technology-driven financial services provider, which designs and implements a comprehensive core banking suite used worldwide by some of the biggest names in banking. They opened the Edinburgh office in 2011 and have made rapid progress towards establishing it as an equal to the Zurich development HQ.
Chris Zwicker, MD of Avaloq and Talent Acquisition Specialist Linzi Morrison recently met with their Eden Scott Account Manager Niall Bree to discuss how Avaloq are looking to grow their team by training and developing home grown Scottish talent, and also bringing skilled Europeans in to supplement the IT skills gap.
You recently took part in the EURES backed European Online Job Day, how useful did that prove to be?
Linzi: This was an online Interactive jobs day where experienced hires and some graduates, mainly from Spain and Portugal, could speak to us via an online chat portal. We received questions about the jobs we had posted with EURES and candidates could apply for positions directly on the day.
We got a lot of interest during the process of this and we successfully interviewed and have now offered a candidate a position that he applied for through EURES and the European online jobs day. So even if we get one successful applicant from this initiative it will have been worthwhile to participate in. Overall we were really happy with the outcome of the event.
Are there other initiatives out there you are looking to utilise?
Linzi: We will be following up with EURES in case there are any similar events in the future. We also had adverts running with universities and graduate websites looking at European students who would be interested in relocating, focusing on top tier European universities.
We are aware that there can be a significant drop-off of people going through with a relocation but we feel that providing an organised effort in helping individuals applying and with relocation, increases the chances of people following through.
Chris: I think it’s also about creating an environment where people know they could come and stay, coming with family especially, you want to be know if after 2-3 years you would like to move on then there are other opportunities available in Edinburgh and Scotland. Edinburgh is creating an ecosphere of Fintech and tech startups at the moment and this will only encourage people to relocate here for the long term.
How important is attracting top European talent to help bridge the skills gap for Avaloq?
Linzi: This is an important aspect for us as there is a skills gap in the industry but avaloq look to supplement that through graduate hires. We want to really train, develop and nurture the talent in Scotland to be the the future leaders of the industry. The European element comes into it with more experienced hires as that is more where the gap lies currently.
Chris: Right now there are just not enough good grads who have the background education or understanding to move into different jobs. For Avaloq it’s difficult, as universities, not only in Scotland but in Western Europe tend to specialise earlier; in first/second year, whereas we need people with a broad understanding rather than a niche skillset.
We find that University of Edinburgh is still quite technical and broad but others are specialised. Eastern European universities usually have a more technical foundation and that is very interesting for us at Avaloq. Southern Europe is very similar but the further west you go the more specialised it gets.
How has the recruitment process changed in the last 2 years at Avaloq?
Chris: We are well known in Switzerland and Zurich, so we can be very selective in recruitment in those regions. Avaloq have an increasing profile in Scotland but when they first arrived in Edinburgh they were an unknown entity. Eden Scott worked with us to try and find the best talent out there in the market at the time.
When we began to advertise and actively recruit people, the candidates hadn't heard of Avaloq. So to change this we started working with Universities and doing guest lectures, lab lectures for example. Last week we went to Heriot Watt University to take part in a lab lecture, this helps us show off who we are and that we are working on interesting projects. From this we now have Internships this year, whilst co-supervising dissertations with Edinburgh University and Heriott Watt University students.
What are your growth ambitions for 2016?
Chris: This year we currently have around 50 open positions with around 20 of these in Edinburgh, If we sign a large deal then we will hire more but we tend to be more cautious as job security is very important to us. We would rather not over-extend ourselves. We invest a lot of money in people, especially in training and would rather not have a high turnover of staff.