Illawarra tech business FinoComp has doubled the size of its workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and is employing more people.
With the IT sector among the few bright points in the economy during lockdown many University of Wollongong graduates are being provided with an opportunity to start their careers within the region.
And they benefiting from a wealth of international experience at the business with offices in Jamberoo, Wollongong and London that continually attracts leaders in their field from across Australia and around the globe.
Which means new talent at FinoComp get to work with the best in the business from countries such as South Africa, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Argentina.
Managing director Ray Tubman said since the business started in 2015 it has always been about hiring and developing the best people in the industry. And by combining seasoned senior management, mathematicians and experienced developers with diverse backgrounds who specialise in critical infrastructure, with emerging local talent the Jamberoo business has been able to keep gathering momentum and tap into a growing international client base.
Mr Tubman said global demand for FinoComp's range of micro services for the wealth management industry was increasing.
FinoComp builds unique, registry-agnostic and highly flexible software that supports the UK wealth market and provides software for data analytics, client reporting, performance reporting and regulatory compliance built on a microservices architecture.
Its clients include leading UK wealth management institutions, such as Aegon and Nucleus.
And its success didn't stop in October 2019 when it became part of the $1 billion Bravura Solutions organisation which employs 1500 people globally.
Not only has its own workforce steadily grown since then but FinoComp has been able to tap into the expertise of its parent business which operates in similar markets. FinoComp software developed in the Illawarra has also added functionality to Bravura.
"We were left to run under our own brand and banner as a subsidiary of that organisation," Mr Tubman said.
"We have been able to do our own R&D and it has allowed us to build more software and expand. So it has been a real boom for us to have that capital backing.
"We have been building more software and providing it to more financial service firms."
Mr Tubman said FinoComp has almost double in size since March 2020.
"We went into COVID without about 35 full time equivalent employees and 18 months down the track we are almost 70," he said.
"And over that time we have had seven interns and three graduates.
"The quality of applicant we get from University of Wollongong is extraordinary. And we always put on more. And most of our interns stay on and become permanent employees.
"We have at least another dozen positions to fill in the coming year. It is an ongoing expansion. As we accumulate our growing suite of products we expect that to drive more jobs. We see continued growth as our products become more and more successful.
"Our strategy is very much about doing all our development work here in the Illawarra."
Mr Tubman said logistically it was hard enough to expand in the good times but COVID lockdowns had made that more difficult since March 2020.
In recent years FinoComp has been named Employer of Choice at the Illawarra Business Awards in 2019, made the list of Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 companies in Australia. And it has done that by combining experience with enthusiasm.
While FinoComp opened additional office space in Smith Street, Wollongong almost two years ago many of its existing personnel and new recruits still choose to work in one of the three historic buildings the business occupies in the heart of Jamberoo.
Around half all FinoComp employees work in Wollongong and half in Jamberoo.
A video on the FinoComp website many international applicants check out before they arrive has resulted in 75 per cent of those choosing to work in Jamberoo and live in the Kiama local government area.
Head of human resources Leanne Isabella said every time FinoComp advertises positions it attaches the video.
"They tell me they watched it and really liked the culture and Jamberoo looks really attractive," she said.
Among the challenges of hiring new people and taking on so many "finterns" continually through a global pandemic is helping them fit into the workplace and its culture seamlessly.
Doubling the number of personnel during the last 18 months has not only meant quarantine is required for anyone joining from interstate or overseas but the fact they need to work remotely away from the office when they arrive.
So Ms Isabella has been busy developing new buddy and mentoring systems to help them socialise with their new colleagues and make them feel welcome and part of such a rapidly growing team.
"They don't get to walk into a friendly office on their first day and see all the smiling faces, introductions and casual conversations," she said.
"So we really had to think about it to make sure new people still get that experience.
"Before COVID every new employee go a signed card. Now they get an eCard with lovely messages and gifts.
"There is a lot of interaction during their first week with key members of staff and social activities happening such as virtual trivia and virtual charades to help keep everyone connected and engaged."
A personal trainer also gets online three times a week for any staff who want to participate. And children are invited to participate in activities to give their home schooling parents a break.
Mr Tubman said that was another reason why the business was growing its reputation as an employer of choice.
"Leanne has managed that really well and has put in all the necessary orientation you need when people are remote," he said.
Ms Isabella said she was constantly surprised just how many applicants wanted to move to the Illawarra at such a difficult time.
And it was exciting to work for a company that is so much in demand for its products and as a great place to work.
Mr Tubman said embracing diversity was really important to the business.
He said the way it supports staff through important family events and taps into a global melting pot of cultures are among the many reasons why the business has so much character.
It is an enjoyable and encouraging placed to work.
Mr Tubman said it was also great to be able to run a business in a sector that was continuing to grow and support the local economy through such a difficult time.
The business has donated money to the provision of meals to health workers on the frontline and families in need during lockdowns. And for programs that support people struggling with mental health.
We went into COVID without about 35 full time equivalent employees and 18 months down the track we are almost 70Ray Tubman