Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank.
The co-founder of Starling, one of the UK’s largest digital banks, is set to step down as CEO next month, the company said on Thursday.
Starling, which is backed by US investment banking giant Goldman SachsOne of the most prominent fintechs in the country with a user base of 3.6 million customers.
Anne Bowden is to step down on June 30, according to a press release. She will hand over the reins to John Mountain, Starling’s chief operating officer, who has been with the bank since 2015.
“I have spent almost a decade here as both founder and CEO, a dual role that is unique in UK banking,” Bowden said in a statement on Thursday. “It’s been all taking and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
“Now that we have grown from an aspiring challenger to an established bank, it is clear that the roles and priorities of a CEO and a large shareholder ultimately differ and require different approaches. As Starling As growth and development continues, it is in the best interest of the Bank to separate my two roles.”
Sterling reported annual revenue of £453 million ($600 million) for the year to 31 March 2023, more than doubling from 2022, with a pre-tax profit of £195 million, a sixfold year-on-year increase.
Total debt increased from £3.3 billion to £4.9 billion. Customer deposits increased by 17% to £10.6 billion.
Bowden, who co-founded Starling in 2014, took the startup from a small challenger in banking to a major player in the UK financial landscape.
The often outspoken CEO has been a key voice behind the UK government’s effort to make it an established fintech hub.
She is also a staunch critic of the role of social media in online fraud as well as a leading crypto skeptic.
On a call with reporters on Thursday, Bowden said the main thing that triggered his decision was concerns that his significant stake in the firm could create a conflict of interest.
Bowden holds a 4% stake in Starling.
He said that it was not the company’s board but he himself who initiated the conversation about his departure.
Sterling has so far raised a total of £946.5bn from investors including Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and the Qatar Investment Authority. The bank was last valued at £2.5 billion.
Responding to a question from CNBC on Thursday, Bowden said that, were the firm to raise capital today, its shares would not decrease in value from their previous value.
Asked how his plans to step down could affect Starling’s path toward an initial public offering, Bowden said the IPO market is currently closed and the firm is in no immediate rush.
The UK has received a lot of criticism from top tech bosses over the tech listing environment – earlier this year, Revolut’s CEO said he would never list in London.
Bowden said Sterling had not yet decided on a listing venue for its final public offering, although a UK launch was likely.
Bowden said, “We need to keep our options open. It is not the right time to make a decision on a listing venue, although we are a UK bank and a very successful UK bank.”
“Customers love us and the default position will be a UK listing because of consumer enthusiasm for a brand as powerful as Starling.”