April 20, 2022



There are a lot of very rare things about my guest today, Anne Boden. 

She is one of a very small group of people who have founded what the U.K. calls challenger banks – banks that were chartered after the financial crisis as part of regulators’ newly minted mandate to foster competition in the financial sector.

She is one of the very small group of bank CEOs, worldwide, who are women – which makes her a great guest for an episode that we recorded at the end of March – which was Women’s History Month.

She is the CEO of a startup that turns a profit. Many don’t.

She is one of a very small group of bank CEOs whose roots are in technology, not banking. Her university degree was in chemistry and computer science.

And she is the very rare bank CEO who has written a New York Times bestseller. Titled, Banking on it: How I Disrupted the Way We Manage Our Money Forever, her book recounts the amazing story of how Anne – then a senior executive at a global bank, in her mid-50’s – decided to found, yes, a bank. 

We did an episode with Anne in 2018, and I wanted to talk with her again to get an update, and also to get her insights on how the world has changed since then. Because….it’s changed a whole lot.

In 2018, challenger banks and, more broadly, fintechs, were a tiny part of the financial system. A lot of people loved them. A lot of people were skeptical. Either way, they were marginal. Today, they aren’t – Anne makes this point dramatically as she describes the impressive market share that Starling has taken from large banks. Digitally-native financial companies are still a small facet of finance overall, but they are growing fast and they are now a force. The market capitalization of leading fintech firms now rivals and even exceeds the market cap of some global banks. These young firms are in the process of changing the face of finance. They need to be taken seriously.

And that is true without even factoring in the potential of crypto, decentralized finance, and central bank digital currencies to rewire the whole financial system. 

In our conversation, Anne recaps a bit of the story of how she knew that a new kind of bank could succeed. She had led business lines at several big banks, and she talks about how these big organizations struggle to change (she uses the term, “paralysis”). She had an epiphany – realizing that modernizing old, complicated technology is so difficult that it would actually be easier to start from scratch. Now, eight years later, she has fascinating insights about that journey and about what is ahead for both kinds of companies – the old versus the new competitors. The incumbents and the challengers. 

Anne also talks about what’s ahead for financial consumers, about open banking, and about crypto. She has advice for the regulators. 

And – especially interesting for those of us in the U.S. – she talks about Starling’s plans to bring their banking technology to the United States. They are a bank, and they built their entire banking tech stack, themselves, from scratch. They are now offering it to US banks and fintechs as a SaaS solution, and as Banking as a Service. 

Last but not least, I asked Anne for her advice to other women, and to men, on how to build workforces that are free of gender bias. Her insights, as a leader who has come from the male-dominated industries of both finance and technology, are invaluable.

We recorded this episode with video as well as audio, and I encourage you to watch as well as listen. We have very few guests who are as engaging to hear, and see, as Anne Boden.

More on Anne

Anne founded Starling Bank in 2014 after a distinguished global career in financial services. Her previous roles include Chief Operating Officer of Allied Irish Banks (2012 – 2013), Head of EMEA, Global Transaction Banking, for RBS (2009 to 2011) and Executive Vice President Europe, Transaction Banking for ABN AMRO (2006-2009). A computer scientist by training, she is a Fellow of the Royal Chartered Institute of IT and a member of the FinTech Strategy Group, created by Innovate Finance and the City of London Corporation. She was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018.

More for our Listeners

We have many fascinating  shows coming up. We’ll have Deborah Young, CEO of the Regtech Association; Sigal Mandelker, former Treasury official and now at Ribbit Capital; Nicole Elam and Robert James of the National Bankers Association; returning guest Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle, with Tomicah Tillemann, on Web 3; Catherine Brown from Klaros Group on US consumer protection regulation; and Sunayna Tuteja, the first ever chief innovation officer of the Federal Reserve System. 

We are also excited that live conferences are coming back! I’ll be speaking at the Shared Assessment Conference in Washington, at the ABA Regulatory Compliance conference, and LendIt. And I’ll be speaking in Zurich at the first ever Point Zero conference. 

Don’t forget to follow AIR on LinkedIn and Twitter. Be sure to leave us a five-star rating on your favorite podcast platform. And please follow me personally on Twitter @JoAnnBarefoot.

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