FAST-GROWING fintech firm Revolut will confirm today the worst kept secret in the City; Martin Gilbert, the asset management titan, is to become its new non-executive chairman. The move — unsurprising though it may be — is a stark reminder of the startup's ambitions to become a global bank. In the last six months alone, chief executive Nikolay Storonsky has lured in some of the banking industry's biggest names. In July the group tapped up HSBC and TSB banking veteran Richard Davies to be its new operating chief. A month later it hired a trio of executives from Deutsche Bank, Clearbank and German rival N26. Even Michael "Woody" Sherwood, the Goldman Sachs veteran who has kept such a low profile in recent years, is expected to join the board. Such high-profile moves suggest two things. Firstly, that Revolut wants to be taken more seriously. It has called in the grown-ups. Despite their skyhigh valuations and rising revenues, many fast-growing technology companies have struggled to convince investors that there is a pathway to profit. As Revolut reportedly seeks to raise more than £1bn, wellregarded industry names (with good contacts) will go some way towards silencing those who say the company currently lacks experience. Secondly, the appointments underline an effort in the firm to bolster corporate governance after a series of public controversies. During the last year Revolut has faced mounting scrutiny from the likes of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority, with particular attention on its capacity to tackle illicit money transfers. Questions over the quality of its compliance systems have also hurt its profile.
Drafting in senior bankers from a number of institutional players, however, could go some way to helping safeguard against future mis-steps. These problems cannot be tackled overnight, but as it attempts to transition into a global bank, Revolut will be keen to show that its new heavyweights demonstrate it is no longer the stereotypical startup, fuelled by ambition alone and filled with bean bags, ping-pong tables and drinks ontap. Though given Michael Sherwood's obsession with table tennis, perhaps the ping-pong part wouldn't be so bad.
During the last year Revolut has The newcomers are a reminder of Revolut's aim to be a global bank
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