The Business Year

Mario Alonso Ayala

SPAIN - Economy

Mario Alonso Ayala

President & co-founder, Auren

Bio

Mario Alonso Ayala is an economist and lawyer. He is an arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a professor of accounting and financial economics at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He was previously president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Spain. Alonso is also a member of the Audit Committee of the Accounting and Auditing Institute and president of the Economic Commission of the Social Council of the Complutense University of Madrid. He is a member of the board of directors of CEOE and a patron of the Jiménez Dí­az Foundation and the Initiative Foundation for Neuroscience (INCE Foundation).

The largest multidisciplinary professional services firm in Spain and overseas, Auren has the geographical coverage to undertake international projects anywhere in the world.

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.

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.

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.

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