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Fintech pioneer Anne Boden steps aside from challenger bank CEO role

Fintech pioneer to step aside for a new CEO after 10 years building a UK banking unicorn

Fintech pioneer Anne Boden is leaving her role as CEO at app-based challenger bank Starling, as it announces a more than doubling of its revenue and a sixfold increase in profit.

Boden founded Starling in 2014, and it received its banking licence in 2016, launching the following year. In October 2020, it made its first monthly profit of £800,000, becoming the first UK digital challenger bank to do so, and it reached fintech unicorn status in 2021.

In its latest financial results, the bank revealed Boden will remain on its board as a non-executive director.

Starling reported a doubling of revenue, which reached £453m for its latest financial year, compared with £216m last year. During the 12-month period, which ended March 31, profit was £195m, compared with £32m in the previous financial year. 

Last year, the bank lent £4.9bn compared with £3.3bn the previous year, and customer deposits increased 17% to £10.6bn.

Boden said: “When I started Starling in 2014, I was told no one ever starts a bank, nobody wins market share and you’ll never make a profit. Today’s results prove them wrong. I have spent nearly a decade here as both the founder and CEO, a dual role which is unique in UK banking. It’s been all-consuming and I’ve loved every minute of it.

“Now that we have grown from being an aspiring challenger to an established bank, it is clear the roles and priorities of a CEO and a large shareholder ultimately differ and require distinct approaches,” she said. “As Starling continues to evolve and grow, separating my two roles is in the bank’s best interests.”

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Starling chief operating officer John Mountain will take over as interim CEO.

Boden is an IT professional who got into banking: armed with a BSc in computer science and chemistry, and an MBA, the now fellow of the Chartered Institute of IT joined Lloyds Bank in the early 1980s, when she was “doing fintech before fintech was fashionable”.

After Lloyds Bank, her career has included: a period heading up UK IT at Standard Chartered; being one of the original designers of the Clearing House Automated Payments System (Chaps); a role as a strategy and technology consultant at PWC; restructuring European operations at UBS; holding the global chief information officer job for reinsurance at Aon; and running business in 34 countries for ABN Amro, and subsequently RBS, when it took over the Dutch bank.

But it was after leaving RBS in 2011 – to spend time working with startups to find out what was going on in financial services outside the big organisations – that she realised how banks needed to change. She joined Allied Irish Bank as chief operating officer and began implementing some of the ideas she’d had while working with small fintech groups. This was successful for the bank, but Boden wanted more – and realised the only way to get it was by starting from scratch with a new bank when the time was right.

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