Tales from the dark side of the Revolut revolution; CFO resigns

Tales from the dark side of the Revolut revolution; CFO resigns

The CFO of Revolut has resigned as the fintech unicorn makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, with allegations arising over serious lapses in money laundering controls and dodgy hiring practices.

According to the Telegraph, chief financial officer Peter O’Higgins - who joined in 2016 after 12 years at JP Morgan - resigned from Revolut this week.

The news comes after documents passed to The Telegraph by a whistleblower show that for three months last year Revolut switched off an automated system designed to stop dubious money transfers.

As a result, thousands of illegal transactions may have passed through the London-based startup's digital banking system between July and September of 2018.

At the time Revolut said it had reported the illicit activity to financial regulators and brushed off the exposure as insignificant, although the veracity of that claim is now being called into question.

Billed as a fintech-friendly alternative to established banks, Revolut has grown at a phenomenal pace, opening between 8,000 and 10,000 current accounts daily and transacting over $4 billion per month for its four million customers across Europe.

But the high speed growth has a dark side, reflected in a brash take-no-prisoners management culture that has resulted in tales of high staff turnover and employee burn out.

Writing on employee review site Glassdoor, one current staffer pulls no punches:

This is not the place if value your mental health or work/life balance. You get told the company culture is work 12 hours a day for 7 days which the CEO constantly says in all his interviews. Which is understandable if you are were one of the first employees with lots of stock options to join however to expect someone to 84 hours a week for the same salary as you can make at Google or Facebook, doesn't make sense.

Employees get spoken to like crap, the CEO sends out an email threatening employees with being fired if they don't meet their targets every 3-6 months which is always nice to know your CEO doesn't care.

We've had 5 different people do the role of Head of People in 18 months, no-one sticks around as the CEO gets rid of them.

I'll be leaving as soon as I find a better company and more competent senior management.

Advice to Management

Have you ever wondered why you have such a high turnover of employees?

The answer is you treat them like crap for same money as you could get at another company and yet you think they should feel privileged to work for you.

While some other reviews on Glassdoor are more favourable, the live fast, die young ethos appears to start even before people join the company as Wired reveals in an interview with an anonymous young hopeful in Spain who was told she had to recruit at least 200 clients to Revolut in a week in order to qualify for a second-stage interview.

After writing back refusing to do the task and saying she was disappointed that the company would “take advantage of someone that is looking for a job”, the firm's head of business development Andrius Biceika emailed her saying she was the only candidate out of over 350 that had complained about the task. “Apologies you're not up to show what you're capable of,” he wrote in the email.

The bad publicity comes at a tricky time for Revolut, which recently found itself the subject of a Twitter backlash thanks to a poorly judged marketing campaign.

A poster advert from the firm asked: "To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine's Day...You ok, hun?"

On Twitter, the ad was criticised for "single-shaming", creepily monitoring users' transactions, its patronising tone, and ripping off a similar 2016 advert from Spotify.

Comments: (5)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 28 February, 2019, 17:06Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes This is a fintech startup hero challenger bank company. Such companies are cherished by the European central bank, EU Commission snd Council and multiple members of the EU Parliament. The petty criticism on their staff practices should be left unnoted since their important task is to wipe out the evil high street banks no consequence spared!
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 March, 2019, 08:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

WP: Monzo and Starling are doing a great job at that, thanks.  Revolut is way worse than the high st.

Jorge Prado
Jorge Prado - PwC - Berlin 01 March, 2019, 09:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sad news to hear about Revolut, the golden child of digital banks in Europe. This resonates with similar news about N26 disregarding compliance about proper authentication for account openings.

The reality of fast growth is painful. The passion for success might be easily confused with poor working culture and critical mistakes can be made, such as the one illustrated in this article.

However, there is plenty to celebrate as well. Challenger banks have set the irreversible course of modernizing the banking industry in Europe for decades to come. I sincerely hope that Revolut, N26 and all challenger banks take a more serious approach to responsible governance practices.


Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 01 March, 2019, 10:32Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Yet another exhibit for what I've been saying for a long time: Fintechs can't obey the same rules as banks and hope to beat banks at their own game.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 March, 2019, 11:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

WP: The ones that are banks can, e.g. Monzo and Starling.