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How a 54-year-old started her own bank

November 12, 2020, 1:46 PM UTC
TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 - Day 2
CEO of Starling Bank Anne Boden speaks on stage during TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018. She founded Starling at age 54, disrupting the idea of who a fintech entrepreneur should be.
Noam Galai—Getty Images for TechCrunch

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Kamala Harris’s move to VP leaves the Senate with zero Black women, Australia debates the ‘manterruption,’ and Anne Boden is not your average fintech entrepreneur. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– ‘I was prepared to fail.’ Anne Boden knows she is not who you imagine when you think of a fintech entrepreneur.

“I’m a woman. I’m 5ft tall. I’m Welsh. I’m middle-aged. I’m from a very ordinary background and I’m the sort of person who’ll chat to somebody in the ladies [room]!” she says.

But that didn’t stop her. “I’d reached the stage where I was prepared to fail,” she says. “I was 54 and confident enough not to care if somebody said I was stupid.”

Boden founded Starling, the branchless U.K. bank that now has 1.8 million customer accounts and a staff of more than 1,000. She recently talked to the Guardian about her startup journey, and it’s the sort of second-act story that will stick with you.

She started her corporate career at Lloyds in London and later became COO of Allied Irish Banks. The 2008 financial crisis changed her perspective on banking. Even with the Great Recession and technological advances, banks kept operating in the same way; it was business as usual.

She left her job in 2014 to launch a new kind of bank; one without bureaucracy, where opening an account was easy, notifications were instant, and customer service was always available. She spent months trying to drum up support for her vision. She found a business partner, but later lost him and other members of their fledgling team. Her breakthrough came in late 2015 when she convinced billionaire Harald McPike to invest 48 million pounds in her business. Starling got its banking license in 2016.

Boden admits that the bank is her whole life and embraces the fact that she’s bucked the expectations society set for her. “I’ve had a great career. I’ve done lots of stuff. I’m proud of what we’ve built,” she says. “I wish I could help more women understand that you don’t have to conform to the stereotype to be happy, to be successful.”

You can read the entire story here.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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