MARIO ALONSO AYALA

Spain 2021 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mario Alonso Ayala, President & Co-founder of Auren, about leading the sector, new markets in Europe, and creating a good environment for workers.

Club Cámara Madrid


Auren, a 100% Spanish company that provides audit, legal and tax advice, consulting, and corporate services, has become a leader in the sector for over 22 years. How has the company's evolution been from the beginning?

Auren was set up by several co-founders, entirely from scratch, 22 years ago. Each one of us, each in a different part of Spain, began to create our own, small company for consulting, auditing, and so on. My idea had always been to be completely multidisciplinary and to grow as large as possible. We started out small, and through organic growth, portfolio purchases, the integration of partners, and so on, we grew. Today, we are the largest multidisciplinary professional services firm in Spain, with 100% Spanish capital. One other important feature of Auren is that, over 15 years ago, we decided to create our own international network from Spain. Currently, Auren is present in 11 countries: six in Europe and five in Latin America. In addition, we have created an association of independent firms, Antea, that we lead. This association is present in 72 countries around the world. Auren has sufficient international geographical coverage to be able to undertake international projects anywhere in the world. In Spain, we have 15 offices and around 1,000 people, internationally, around 3,000 people, and, at Antea, around 7,000 people.

Do you have any plans to expand into new markets in the future?

This is what we always do: expand both nationally and internationally. We have Antea, which serves as a test for those firms looking to join Auren. We invite those that are more active and are a certain size to be part of the Auren project in addition to continuing in Antea. In Latin America, Auren is present in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Argentina, and there is a short-term intention to expand into countries that are key in the area, such as Peru and Brazil. In Europe, for example, we are at the point of opening Auren offices in Italy.

In 2020, Auren billed 3.9% less than the previous year, though maintaining 100% of employment. How has the company been affected by the pandemic?

The impact of the pandemic on the business has been remarkably low. Although the overall impact is around a 3% fall in turnover, this impact is not evenly distributed. The legal and auditing areas have been sufficiently well maintained. However, the corporate area, which runs mergers and acquisitions, saw a significant drop. In consulting, human resources took the biggest hit. For us, it has been key to maintain our staff, which is part of Auren's people-centered culture. In terms of the pandemic, we have stayed in close contact with all teams, we have offered flexibility to the greatest extent possible to work remotely, and we have maintained employment levels. This pandemic has affected our business and the way we do things, though from a work perspective, it has not affected us. We had highly developed technological tools that enabled us to work remotely from the beginning. Our commitment for the future is 50% remote work when the pandemic is under control and 50% onsite.

During the pandemic, Auren received the Great Place to Work certification. What does it mean to you?

We are considered one of the best companies to work for in Spain in professional services, and this proves it. Auren is always highlighted in networks and on websites because it has a second-to-none work environment. We have achieved this thanks to our leaders. If the leaders are able to convey values and lead by example, this is the philosophy that's achieved.

Auren has set up an Auren Next Generation EU Technical Office, focused on helping SMEs and public administrations in the management of European funds. Can you elaborate more on this?

We are in close contact with the public authorities. We have first-hand information, and our plan is to focus on SMEs, which is where we operate best. We are advocating for these funds to not only go to large companies. The Spanish business fabric is made up of SMEs, and a large percentage of the funds must also go to them. We hold great experience in European funds; we have been working with them for many years, and we have a highly specialized team. In addition, we are able to channel ideas and projects from business consortiums, city councils, and so on, and we are able to present them in an appropriate format for funding. We are also able to monitor and issue reports that show that these funds are being used efficiently in what has been stipulated. Furthermore, we are able to carry out work related to these projects. In short, we cover all stages of the European funds. European funds are a unique opportunity for our country and, therefore, must be managed precisely, but also with some flexibility. Auren seeks to assist throughout this entire process, not only because we are interested in it as a business, but also to help this country in this respect.

What sets Auren apart from other companies?

First, we are 100% multidisciplinary, which few companies in the world and in Spain have. Second, we have great coverage in that we have 15 offices in Spain, we reach practically any territory, and we are in close contact with the companies. Third, our international network from Spain is something that no one else has done, and that earns us great prestige. Beyond this, we are set apart as a 100% Spanish-owned company, unlike all our competitors.

What would be Auren's main goal for the rest of the year?

Our goal is to focus on Next Generation funds, as such to also provide our entire range of services. Our intention to grow in all divisions remains strong, and we are exploring the possibility of integrating other firms as well as the purchase of portfolios. Further additions in the consulting and auditing areas are to come about. Thirdly, we seek to keep going with our international expansion. Fourth, we aim to be particularly active in terms of communication, both in the media and on social networks.