Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 15.39.40A North East financial web services provider is forging links with the region’s burgeoning digital talent, boosting recruitment and retention of graduates.

The team is focused on developing Unified Software’s client base and is launching a major new product BankPay MS (Management Systems) which it hopes will help the business reach the next level, fuelling expansion both at home and abroad.

Houghton-le-Spring based Unified Software has recruited three key members of staff through the University of Sunderland, two software developers and a sales person. This includes Alec Evans who’s become its head developer in the six years since he joined the company as an intern with a first a class honours degree in programming after forging a career as a locksmith.

Managing director George Barron co-founded the FinTech (Financial Technology) business in 2003 with his wife Christine Forsyth now the company’s finance director.

“Alec and the team have been working hard perfecting our new product BankPay MS which allows us for the first time to offer complete payment cycle services to businesses and we have been focused on launching that since the start of the year and it’s going very well,” he said.

Unified Software works with some of the most recognisable names in the corporate world including JP Morgan, BT, MoneySuperMarket.com developing niche software that provides bank validation and payment services enabling businesses to remove errors and greatly improve the integrity of their payments systems.

“The new product now allows our customers to initiate and complete banking payments as well as the bank validation software products we also provide.

“Some of our customers such as telecoms and energy companies can have upwards of 1 million payment transactions a month so software that automatically checks data before any payments are completed and that can initiate payments automatically results in a significant time saving and much better security.”

Houghton-le-Spring based Unified Software was the first company in the UK to provide web based financial services and George is aware of the importance of being a driver in the City’s digital presence, for which the gauntlet was thrown down when Sunderland was the first ever city to be awarded UK Digital City 2014 in the Municipal Journal Awards 2014. He’s also keenly aware of the value of Sunderland Software City a local initiative that supports the development of software developers of which Sunderland University is a major partner.

Associate Director Tim Pain of the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Sunderland said: “We are delighted that we have been able to help Unified Software which operates very successfully in the niche area of financial technology and is a successful business in the Sunderland area launched by a local entrepreneur.

“This is exactly the type of business we are looking to support and the fact that all three of the graduates we sourced for Unified are still working there speaks volumes for George’s company. It just goes to show how much talent and opportunity is available in the Sunderland area and the wider North East and would urge other technology and businesses in general who looking to recruit suitably qualified people to get in touch.”

George said: “We have worked closely with Sunderland University for over six years and are very proud that this association has resulted in recruiting three excellent members of staff who are all still in the business supporting our growth and development.

“As a small business now with seven staff, recruiting new people in many ways is even more crucial, as getting it wrong could be very disruptive to the whole team. However with Alec, Adam and most recently Andrew we have been incredibly fortunate to have brought on board some great people and we are very grateful to Sunderland University for make this happen.”

Andrew Jenkins, 24, a sales and account manager, is the most recently recruited but has now been with the business since January last year. Adam Skinner joined in 2014 and Alec Evans in 2011 and both are software developers.

Alec Evans, now 47, said: “I went back to University at 38 after doing various jobs including six years as a locksmith so it’s gratifying that I have found a company that I have been able to learn, develop and progress with over such a long period of time in area I had always had a passion for.”