Starling founder predicts banking future will be cardless
Anne Boden leads a sensible life.
She works a lot from the living room of her modest Marlow house next to a bookshelf filled with non-fiction; she just started using a TV streaming service because they seemed rather expensive; she didn’t splash on a new table and chairs for the garden because half the year she won’t be in use; and in the garage is a thrifty and thrifty Tesla.
“I don’t think I’m taking any chances,” Anne says with her soft Welsh accent. “But then someone said to me the other day, ‘You set up a bank, Anne’.
Anne did exactly that – she started Starling Bank, a truly award-winning, fully licensed and regulated bank, headquartered in London, with offices in Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin and employ over 1,000 people.
Growing up in Swansea, the only daughter of a steelworker father and a mother who worked in a department store, Anne joined Lloyds as a post-graduate intern after Swansea University before embarking on a 30-year career in one of the largest financial institutions in the world. institutions, including Allied Irish Banks, UBS and ABN AMRO.
It was after the 2008 crash that she began to notice how she would tell taxi drivers that her job was anything but that of a banker.
“I entered as a graduate because I thought [banking] was honorable work, ”she said. “I felt ashamed to be a banker after 2008, but now I’m proud of what I’m doing at Starling.”
Soon after, Anne left her position as COO of AIB and in 2014 moved to Buckinghamshire, where she started sitting in internet cafes sending endless emails to continue meetings and catch up with her contacts, hoping to garner support for her. idea of a new bank.
When she finally persuaded some companies to enter into a contingency fee deal, over £ 1million in debt had accumulated, but Starling was formed.
She hired Tom Blomfield, the stylish bearded Oxford graduate, as CTO, but the couple broke up, with Tom taking the small team with him to create rival Monzo Bank.
Slowly, Anne started over with an older team. His luck changed when Harald McPike, a hands-off hedge fund investor, offered a £ 48million investment in Starling Bank.
Having studied computer science in college, Anne says she had an advantage over the big banks because she could see the potential of digital technology to revolutionize the way people and small businesses run their banking operations.
The company would be fully online, with 24-hour support, and would be constantly updated and improved to meet customer needs. On the day of the interview, Starling had made five different updates to technology platforms – and it was only lunchtime.
There are no branches, but that’s because people don’t need them anymore, Anne tells us.
“I think banks and banks have forgotten their goal: to be a responsible organization,” she explains. “We are not a store. We are not here to sell products. We are here to be someone’s friend and to serve the customer in a responsible manner. The most important thing in your life is your health and financial health and that’s where we start and design products in a customer-centric way. ‘
Anne believes that our personal finances will also be managed differently in the future. “I think the world will be cashless and cardless, and I think that’s a good thing. It will be a world where we pay for everything on our cellphones.
How about when the phone’s battery runs out, as is often the case with mine, I ask. Anne laughs – she tells me later that Zoom meetings and interviews are what makes her professional life enjoyable, rather than a chore. “Cell phone technology is getting better and better,” she says.
She continues: ‘[In the future] I think Starling is going to take market share from the big banks. But by the time we get 300 years into the future, organizations will do things differently. I think people will be doing micro payments instead of big payments. For example, instead of a lump sum, you could pay for your auto insurance while driving the car.
“Or are you always going to drive it – maybe it’s autonomous driving?” “
Since launching in 2017, Starling’s deposit base has grown to nearly £ 5.4 billion and now has 2.3 million accounts.
The digital bank recently launched a recycled debit card – the first UK Mastercard debit card to be made from recycled plastic – which will be offered to all new customers in the future. Women represent 46% of the management team, 44% of senior executives and 40% of the board of directors.
Anne says Starling is looking for ways for people to help manage family accounts from a single app. They already have Starling Kite, a debit card for kids to help them manage their pocket money and turn spending into skills.
“We are entering the next phase. The next step is to grow and move the platform forward. We will be developing a lot more features. Right now people have an account and a card, but we’re working on different ways to connect people with each other. Just as a business has different people who manage different parts of the business, an individual can delegate different parts of their finances.
Infamous workaholic, Anne has said in the past that she doesn’t have a work / life balance, just work. “But I am extremely lucky. I can do something interesting and valuable. I meet great people. I have a great job. A lot of people don’t like their jobs.
“We are passionate about what we do. We have a lot of fun and really enjoy it.
ANNE’S WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT …
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are finding a more established and less risky place in the financial world, but Anne remains cautious.
“If you asked me a year ago, I would be clear. Ask me this year and maybe in the future we will be more interested. It’s still a very risky investment for most people – only get involved in Bitcoin if you can afford to lose it and if you understand it – most people don’t.
And could cryptocurrency be incorporated into a bank like Starling? “Not at this time, maybe in a few years, but certainly not in the next two or three years.”
Legacy of containment
An interesting side effect of Covid is that it has played a big role in the rise of online banking services like with Starling, as well as e-commerce, with many people working from home and main streets closed.
“There was a trend towards e-commerce, but it has accelerated over the past ten years. The pandemic has pushed the switch to digital. There are certain trends in the pandemic that will continue, like remote working, that will be here to stay.
Investing in real estate remains a solid investment, she says, and first-time buying should be encouraged, but Anne believes it is still too difficult for many people to access the real estate ladder.
“We have to help people move up the home ownership ladder, but we have to realize that most people don’t have jobs where they can get mortgages. People think of mortgages as not real debt, which is one way of looking at it, but saving for your home and then having help buying it is a good idea. If you have the chance, you should.
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