FNZ, a New Zealand software start-up which sent a small team to Scotland in 2005 to work for Standard Life, has created a global headquarters in Edinburgh in the insurer's former offices.

First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday gave a tub-thumping speech to open the new headquarters at Tanfield, where the company employs almost 300 people with an average age of 28.

Congratulating FNZ on its "excellent choice", he said Scotland was "unrivalled in the quality of graduates that come through our universities".

Alasdair Munro, marketing manager, a 27-year-old graduate of Aberdeen, said: "The people coming out of the universities are right up to speed with the technologies we are using, it makes sense to tap into that resource."

He added: "It is quite a youthful environment – we call it a Kiwi culture – people are expected to put the hours in and they get rewarded."

Mr Salmond highlighted the company's promise to recruit 20 new graduates in the first quarter of 2012, adding to 213 new hires in the past two years.

"Their commitment to the employment and development of new graduates is impressive," the First Minister said, adding that FNZ's choice was "testament not just to the strength of Scotland's pool of new software graduates but also to our strong IT skills base and burgeoning business and financial services sector in Edinburgh".

FNZ now employs 600 people around the world with offices in London, Bristol, Brno (Czech Republic) Sydney, and Wellington where it was founded in 2003.

The start-up's big break came two years later when Standard Life, then headed in the UK by Australian Trevor Matthews, awarded it a major contract for its fund platform and wealth management software. The company's clients include HSBC, Zurich, Axa, Friends Life and UBS as well as Australian banks NAB, owner of the Clydesdale, and ANZ.

Its revenues, which are undisclosed, jumped by 61% in 2011, and its assets under administration for 700,000 end customers were up 40% to £20 billion.

Christian Dougal, FNZ director, said: "Despite reports of the worst economic slowdown in decades, we are seeing tremendous growth. We can support our client base with some of the brightest young people around while helping them gain the skills and experience for a successful career in financial services."