Boss of Goldman-backed digital bank Starling to step down next month

Starling Bank CEO Anne Boden.

Starling Bank

The co-founder of Starling, one of the U.K.’s largest digital banks, is set to step down as CEO next month, the company said Thursday.

Starling, which is backed by U.S. investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, is one of the most prominent fintechs in the country with a user base of 3.6 million customers.

Anne Boden is to step down on June 30, according to a press release. She will hand the reins to Starling’s chief operating officer, John Mountain, who has been with the bank since 2015.

“I have spent nearly a decade here as both the founder and CEO, a dual role which is unique in U.K. banking,” Boden said in a statement Thursday. “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. As Starling continues to evolve and grow, separating my two roles is in the bank’s best interests.”

Starling reported annual revenue of £453 million ($600 million) for the year to March 31, 2023, more than doubling from 2022, with pre-tax profits of £195 million, a sixfold increase year over year.

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Total lending stood at £4.9 billion, up from £3.3 billion. Customer deposits increased 17% to £10.6 billion.

Boden, who co-founded Starling in 2014, took the startup from a tiny challenger in banking to a major player in the U.K.’s financial scene.

The often outspoken CEO has been a key voice behind the U.K. government’s attempt to make it an established fintech hub.

She is also a staunch critic of social media’s role in online fraud as well as a prominent crypto skeptic.

On a call with reporters Thursday, Boden said the main thing that triggered her decision was concerns that her significant shareholding in the firm could create a conflict of interest.

Boden owns a 4% stake in Starling.

She added that it was herself, not the company’s board, that initiated conversations about her departure.

Starling has raised a total of £946.5 billion to date from investors including Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and the Qatar Investment Authority. The bank was last valued at £2.5 billion.

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In response to a CNBC question Thursday, Boden said that, were the firm to raise capital today, its shares would not decrease in value from their last price.

Asked how her plans to step down may impact Starling’s path toward an initial public offering, Boden said the IPO market is currently closed and the firm is in no immediate hurry.

The U.K. has received plenty of criticism from top tech bosses over its tech listings environment — earlier this year, the CEO of Revolut said he would never list in London.

Boden said that Starling has not yet taken a decision on a listing venue for its eventual public offering, however the U.K. was likely to be the place in which it debuts.

“We need to keep our options open. This is not the right time to make a decision on listing venue, however we’re a U.K. bank and a very successful U.K. bank,” Boden said.

“Customers love us and the default situation would be a U.K. listing because of the consumer enthusiasm for a brand that is as powerful as Starling.”

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