Starling Bank founder Anne Boden is stepping aside as chief executive officer, saying the move is to avoid any potential conflicts with her status as one of the bank’s biggest shareholders.
(Bloomberg) — Starling Bank founder Anne Boden is stepping aside as chief executive officer, saying the move is to avoid any potential conflicts with her status as one of the bank’s biggest shareholders.
“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,” Boden said in a statement.
She told reporters her exit had been in discussion for around six months. “My role at the company was brought up by me,” rather than regulators or shareholders, she said.
Boden, who owns 4.9% of the company and has 18% voting rights, will become a non-executive director and stay on the board of the lender she founded nine years ago.
The London-based bank said it’s begun an international search for a permanent CEO. Chief Operating Officer John Mountain will run the firm on an interim basis after Boden leaves her post on June 30.
Her departure from the top job means the City of London is losing one of its most prominent female executives at a time when the finance industry is trying to bolster the diversity of its top ranks. Boden herself chairs a government taskforce on women entrepreneurs.
The bank also said revenue more than doubled to £453 million ($560 million) in the year to March 31. Pretax profit soared to £195 million, up from £32 million in the previous year, when Starling first became profitable.
Like its British rivals, Starling improved its margins following the Bank of England’s interest rate rises. For the year through March, Starling’s net interest margin rose to 2.72% from 1.27%.
Starling, which raised money last year at a valuation of £2.5 billion, is no longer going to go public under Boden’s leadership. “Nobody is doing IPOs at the moment. The market is closed,” she said, adding that the firm can afford to wait “until the environment is right.”
Boden said it’s too soon to make a decision on where Starling might list, though she repeated that the default choice would be the UK, where most of its customers are based.
Starling is one of the UK’s largest mobile-only banks, with 3.6 million accounts and £10.6 billion in deposits, a rise of 17% over the year. Lending increased to £4.9 billion as the bank continues to build out its mortgage book after the acquisition of buy-to-let specialist Fleet in 2021. Boden said the company would bring another mortgage product to the market in the next couple of months.
The bank transformed its balance sheet by becoming one of the largest lenders in the UK government’s Covid-19 support program for small businesses, leading to criticism over the amount of borrowers failing to repay — though Boden has defended the firm’s checks on customers. Starling said on Thursday that 65.5% of borrowers under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme were repaying on schedule.
Starling is also planning to expand its software services for other banks through its Engine subsidiary.
(Updates to include net interest margin in eighth paragraph.)
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