For a series of articles on the tech business climate in N.J., NJTechWeekly.com has interviewed Scivantage CEO, president and founder Adnane Charchour. Scivantage is a growth-stage venture and private equity-backed financial services technology firm headquartered in Jersey City. The company provides Web-based, front- and middle-office technology solutions to the financial services industry.
Charchour — who in 2008 was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New Jersey — says the firm is in the business of providing enabling technology to the financial services market, which translates to software that lets financial institutions better serve their customers.
The company’s software handles everything from trade order processing and account management to comprehensive cost-basis reporting and automated account opening, maintenance and funding.
“We continue to push the barriers by bringing innovations to the marketplace that improve the overall experience for customers who want to transact with financial institutions,” Charchour told us.
Scivantage was begun about 12 years ago in Manhattan by seven founders, all of whom are still involved with the company. It moved to Jersey City in 2006. The firm currently employs about 240 and serves more than 50 financial clients including five of the top 10 U.S. banks and seven of the top 20 U.S. brokerages, Charchour noted.
In 2012, Scivantage was on the Inc. 500|5000 Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies List for the sixth time in a row. We interviewed Charchour after he participated in a panel on emerging trends in wealth management at the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC) FinTech conference in June 2013.
Why is Scivantage located in New Jersey?
About seven years ago we were going through an expansion process, and we looked at several different options. We had to decide if we were going to continue to grow in New York or move to New Jersey. We looked at the waterfront side of Jersey City, which was becoming a major hub attracting companies like ours. At that time about half of our employees commuted from New York and the rest came in from New Jersey.
Our current location is our second office space in Jersey City. When we first moved to Jersey City, we were at 10 Exchange Place, and we spent five years there. We quickly outgrew that space, and we moved to 499 Washington Boulevard recently. Our employees like the Jersey City environment. It is less crowded than the city, yet the city and the financial markets are very easily accessible from our offices via the PATH train. When we were looking for new office space, we did look a little bit west because prices were better, but we opted to stay in Jersey City because the location fits our needs.
It’s been said that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) was instrumental in your decision to come to New Jersey. Can you explain?
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority had a program that was attractive to us. When we moved we had fewer than 50 people, and they had a Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) that provided grants associated with creating employment in New Jersey. Essentially, companies get a rebate on payroll taxes.
Have you found good talent here? And do you hire graduates of New Jersey colleges and universities?
Scivantage is very happy with Stevens Institute of Technology’s Financial Systems Lab program and our partnership with the organization. When we look for software engineers, we look for people who have gone through the Financial Systems program because they have a better understanding of the financial markets. They not only major in computer science but they understand how technology is used on Wall Street.
We have a partnership with Stevens that has been working very well. We began by offering students an internship opportunity with Scivantage, and now we are looking into potentially hiring them as full-time employees. The program reduces our need to train students with more general majors because they now know the marketplace we are servicing. They come to the table with a deep understanding of the space and aware of our ecosystem.
The partnership has also provided a good pipeline of talent for us. In New York it is really hard to find good talent because the market is so competitive. That’s not to say that the state of New Jersey is a less competitive market, but we find the educational institutions much more open to companies like ours.
What aspects of doing business in New Jersey would you like to see improve?
Since the 2008/2009 financial crisis, the New Jersey EDA has been slow in cutting grant checks. These checks really help us overall in hiring and creating new employment, and they are about a year behind on their payment schedule.
While we understand this problem given where the state of the economy was just a few years ago, we’d like to see them speed up the grant money, as this really helps companies hire and create new employment opportunities.
What organizations do you belong to here?
The New Jersey Technology Council has been a great partner here. We love what they do. Between all the different miniconferences, roundtables and other opportunities to bring experts together, they do tremendous work for all of us. They are the gel that brings the IT industry together in New Jersey.