By Scott Wright

A FINANCIAL technology firm has handed a major jobs boost to Dundee after pledging to expand its Scottish headcount by more than 200 across the City of Discovery and Edinburgh over the next two years, amid growing demand for its services from blue-chip clients.

FNZ, which provides platform technology for financial services firms such as asset managers, insurers and banks, will add the roles at its new base in Dundee and its expanding Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh.

The firm, which first moved into Scotland in 2005, said it will initially create 50 jobs on Tayside, where it is based over two floors the former Alliance Trust Savings building.

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FNZ moved into Dundee in October, when pensions firm Embark Group, a long-term partner, acquired the client book of the venerable Alliance Trust Savings. Some of the initial jobs offered by FNZ were to former Alliance Trust Savings staff.

FNZ has simultaneously pledged to expand its headcount in Edinburgh, where the New Zealand-founded business already employs around 500 people at Tanfield, the former home of Standard Life near Canonmills.

Adrian Durham, chief executive of FNZ Group, said: “Our commitment to Scotland is unwavering. The business has thrived here over the last decade and a half, thanks to the combination of talent, customers and infrastructure we have been able to access, and Scotland will be central to the next phase of our global growth over the next 15 years and beyond.

“Our expansion into Dundee, which has undergone significant redevelopment and offers a strong talent pool, is testament to this commitment.

“We look forward to Scotland continuing to provide the platform for our ambitious growth strategy and enabling FNZ to help more people achieve their financial goals.”

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FNZ, which came to Scotland a year after its launch in 2004, said its client base includes more than 60 of the “world’s foremost financial institutions”, with responsibility for £400 billion in assets under administration for around eight million customers. Clients include Aviva, Barclays, Standard Life Aberdeen, Santander, Zurich and Lloyds Banking Group, owner of Bank of Scotland.

Its growth in Scotland has come both organically and through acquisitions. Last year it agreed deals to take over JHC, a UK investment and wealth management software provider, ebase, a German investment platform company, and GBST, an Australian financial technology firm. The latter is subject to approval by the competition watchdog.

A spokesman said it would continue to assess acquisition opportunities as they arise.

FNZ is said to have become the first Scottish-based fintech firm to achieve unicorn status, in October 2018. That came when the equity partnership of Generation Investment Management and Canadian pension fund Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec acquired the stakes previously held by General Atlantic and HIG Capital in a deal which valued the company at £1.7 billion.

A business is referred to as a unicorn when its value reaches $1 billion.

Mr Durham added: “The question we asked when launching FNZ was how can technology solve the problems faced by consumers of long-term savings products? We knew then, and it’s still true today, that technology is the key to unlocking many of the solutions to the problems typically faced by customers.

“Our people in Scotland are at the forefront of developing and improving that technology in line with the needs of savers and investors around the world.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Dundee tyre giant Michelin has launched a £5 million scheme to provide loans and advice to firms looking to expand in the city and the Angus area.

The move comes after the city was left feeling after Michelin announced it was closing its long-established plant in Dundee, with the loss of 850 jobs.

The Michelin factory is due to close by the middle of this year, after its French owner said the demand for the smaller premium tyres it produced had fallen significantly.

The Michelin Development Fund will offer unsecured loans worth up to £5,000 to firms that employ up to 250 people looking to support the creation of jobs, and grants to firms looking to set up in the region. It is open to businesses in Dundee, Coupar Angus, Cupar, Leuchars, Carnoustie, Arbroath and Forfar.

The announcement follows the unveiling in November of a £60 million project to turn the Michelin site into an innovation park. Plans will see the area transformed into a skills and innovation hub, where industry and academia will collaborate on sustainable mobility, clean transport and carbon energy, over the next 10 years.