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Auren_Mario Alonso

SPAIN - Economy

Mario Alonso Ayala

President, Auren, Spain

Bio

Mario Alonso Ayala holds a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Law, and is Chartered Accountant. He is President of Auren. He is also Arbitrator of the Arbitration Court of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid, Member of the Academic Council of FIDE, Member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Compliance Officers-IOC, and Member of the People and Business Foundation. He has published numerous articles and monographs, some of them in relation to Office Management. He is a Professor of Accounting and Financial Economics at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He is a regular professor in economic and financial matters. He has been president of the Spanish Institute of Chartered Accountants, member of the Board of Directors of CEOE and member of the Social Council and president of the Economic Commission of the Complutense University of Madrid.

"Over the past three years, Auren has achieved significant and consistent annual growth exceeding 10%."
TBY talks to Mario Alonso Ayala, President of Auren, Spain, about the company’s recent growth, strategy, and priorities for the coming year.
What key updates would you make regarding Auren’s journey in the Spanish market over the past three years since our last interview?

Over the past three years, Auren has achieved significant and consistent annual growth exceeding 10%. Our expansion is primarily organic, driven by innovative services in AI, blockchain, digitalization, and robotics. With a dedicated team of 35 professionals, we prioritize client projects and internal initiatives to lead in these technologies. In addition to digital services, our digital marketing team of 15 experts handles social media management, web development, and other strategies. Sustainability is integral to our consultancy, making us leaders in Spain by addressing non-financial statements and conducting audits on carbon footprint and climate impact. Despite challenges in skilled recruitment, strategic mergers with legal, auditing, and consultancy firms expand our talent pool. We are currently in advanced talks with potential merger partners to further accelerate growth. Our organic growth averages at 6-7% annually, supplemented by inorganic growth through mergers, contributing up to 12% depending on the year—integral to our strategy.

What services does Auren offer, and how does its multidisciplinary approach benefit clients while ensuring seamless collaboration across all services?

For 27 years, our company has followed a guiding strategy. First, we prioritize offering a diverse range of services to stand out in the Spanish market, similar to the big four firms. Our varied portfolio distinguishes us. Second, our strategy is deeply rooted in Latin culture, setting us apart from the prevalent Anglo-Saxon model in our industry. This humanistic approach is central to our identity. We take pride in our unique culture, evident in the transformative experiences of those who join us. Our focus extends beyond profit margins; we prioritize the well-being and satisfaction of our employees by providing ample freedom, flexibility, remote work opportunities, and extensive training programs. Fostering a positive company culture is paramount, as we actively address the needs and concerns of our employees. Our goal is not just financial success but to expand offerings, create a fulfilling work environment, and prioritize happiness and satisfaction. This ethos is the cornerstone of our exceptional company.

Auren’s strategic plan rests on the pillars of culture, growth, and innovation. How does the company integrate these pillars into its operations?

Our strategy rests on three pillars: culture, multidisciplinarity, and global presence. We’ve expanded to 15 offices across Spain and established offices in 12 countries across Europe and Latin America. Through strategic alliances, we now operate in 76 countries worldwide, covering regions across Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia, and Africa. Multi-disciplinarity is essential in addressing business complexities. Our teams include economists, lawyers, consultants, engineers, psychologists, and more, offering comprehensive solutions to clients. With 45 different professions in our firm, including fields like engineering, chemistry, and veterinary sciences, we are equipped to tackle diverse challenges in the global landscape. This approach sets us apart and enhances our effectiveness in delivering innovative solutions.

How does Auren tailor its services to address specific challenges and opportunities in different regions?

We provide two types of service: traditional services such as audit, legal assistance, and bookkeeping, and innovative services focusing on digitalization and sustainability. Traditional services are a standard offering across all our countries, while innovative services vary depending on the country’s needs and capabilities. For example, at our offices in Israel, we also offer cybersecurity services, leveraging our significant department in Spain; however, in some countries like Portugal, where we have experienced rapid growth through mergers, our focus has primarily been on traditional services, though we are gradually introducing other innovative offerings. In Spain, as leaders within the group, we provide a comprehensive range of traditional and innovative services to meet diverse client demands.

Regarding mergers and integrations, Auren incorporated ECM assessors last year. Are there any upcoming partnerships or integrations, and how do they align with your strategies?

Integration is key for us. Over the past 20 years, we have navigated numerous mergers and acquisitions successfully. Despite the complexities, including cultural differences, our universally-accepted company culture ensures seamless integration. We are expanding our presence by merging with ECM and forming partnerships with law firms in Valencia and Madrid. We are also fostering domestic and international growth, planning to establish offices in Peru and strengthen our brand presence in France and Italy through associations and our alliance, Antea. Our strategy emphasizes growth to maintain a competitive edge. In Spain’s consultancy sector, where market segmentation is clear, our goal is to meet a EUR100 million invoicing target for 2024; a notable feat in our industry. This growth underscores our commitment to leadership and competitiveness in the market.

What examples can you provide of Auren’s initiatives and projects that have positively impacted social responsibility and supported Sustainable Development Goals?

In social responsibility and ESG projects, we take a dual approach. We integrate these services into our business strategy for clients and engage in authentic initiatives with diverse groups, avoiding greenwashing. Our support includes financial contributions, pro bono services, and leadership involvement with nonprofit organizations. We also aid disabled individuals internally and undertake projects like building a hospital and school in Senegal, as well as community development in Peru and Bolivia. Locally, we assist homeless and underprivileged families regularly, showcasing our commitment beyond business. On the business side, we help clients with non-financial statements and climate change impact audits to meet Spanish legal requirements. Our engineers specialize in energy efficiency, and we prioritize social initiatives like gender equality plans, with nearly 30% of our partners being women. We aim for gender balance within five years. Our multidisciplinary teams manage ESG compliance comprehensively, covering anti-money laundering, governance frameworks, data protection, and corporate governance to meet client needs effectively.

What details can you share about the digitization tools provided by Auren, like Auren FARO for generative AI and Auren Personas for HR?

FARO is an invaluable tool that leverages AI to enhance various company processes. In addition to FARO, we have developed other tools for human resources services and ESG processes, highlighting our commitment to innovation. AI plays a crucial role in our operations, as evident in our ongoing internal project, Chat Auren. This platform aims to streamline employee tasks by providing access to verified information exclusively from our own database, mitigating the risks associated with external AI platforms. While external AI tools like Chat GPT can be unreliable, our platform ensures accuracy and reliability, offering a secure and efficient solution for our employees.

What are Auren’s key goals and priorities for the upcoming year?

Our growth strategy involves organic and inorganic expansion. Additionally, we prioritize the development of new services by leveraging our multidisciplinary team and embracing technological advancements. Securing top talent remains a significant challenge, but our distinct culture gives us a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent. My primary focus is on nurturing and evolving our company culture, which is vital for our success. We aim to expand not only within Spain, but also internationally by establishing new offices and entering new markets, all with the ultimate goal of fostering happiness within our organization.

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