Anne Boden steps down as Starling Bank boss in ‘best interests’ of bank
The founder of Starling Bank will step down as chief executive next month as she said it conflicts with her position as part-owner of the bank.
It follows the company reporting a six-fold jump in its profit over the latest financial year.
Anne Boden, a Swansea-born entrepreneur who founded Starling in 2014, revealed she will step aside as chief executive on June 30 to focus on her role as a large shareholder.
She will be replaced by John Mountain, currently the group’s chief operating officer, on an interim basis until a permanent successor is appointed.
As Starling continues to evolve and grow, separating my two roles is in the bank’s best interests
Ms Boden said the decision to step down came from herself and the board following the digital bank’s strong financial performance.
The financial regulator “did not raise any concerns whatsoever”, the businesswoman confirmed, adding that UK regulators “encourage competition”.
She added: “Now that we have grown from being an aspiring challenger to an established bank, it is clear the roles and priorities of a chief executive officer and a large shareholder ultimately differ and require distinct approaches.
“As Starling continues to evolve and grow, separating my two roles is in the bank’s best interests.”
Ms Boden owns 4.9% of the bank, which she started nearly a decade ago, and now has around 3.6 million customers with £10.6 billion in deposits.
The firm reported a pre-tax profit of £195 million for the year to the end of March, a six fold increase on the £32 million reported last year.
It is among the few UK digital banks that are profitable.
It also saw its revenues double and its total lending hit £4.9 billion over the year.
Some analysts questioned the reasoning behind Ms Boden stepping back, while others voiced it being unexpected.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Finalto Trading, said it was “odd” that she was announcing her departure after reporting nearly £200 million in profits, and suggested it was unusual for a company to have an issue with its chief executive being a shareholder.
The bank was last valued at £2.5 billion and is backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and the Qatar Investment Authority.
Starling, which Ms Boden stressed is no longer a challenger but an established bank, has plans to list on the public markets in the future.
But she said she was in “no hurry” to launch an initial public offering (IPO) because it is not a good a time for businesses to be going public, but ultimately Starling will “probably need to be listed just like our peers are listed”, she said, referring to Britain’s high-street banks.
Ms Boden said that going forward, she will remain on the board of Starling and act as a shareholder director of the company.
She also wants to focus on her role as chair on the Government’s women-led high-growth enterprise task force, which aims to increase the number of female entrepreneurs.
The Welsh tech leader said she found it “really, really difficult to raise money for Starling in the early days”, having faced scepticism over her decision to “start a bank”.
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