The fintech company Revolut calls in psychologists after criticism of the company culture | Fintech

Britain’s most valuable fintech company Revolut is putting together a team to track whether staff are “approachable” and “respectful” as it tries to address criticism of an aggressive company culture and secure a UK banking licence.

While the payments company’s crypto business is valued at $33 billion (£27 billion) and has 25 million customers and 6,000 employees in offices stretching from London to Tokyo to São Paulo, it has so far lacked a UK license that would bring the firm within regulated rules. customer protection schemes.

The new division, which will include psychologists and behavioral science experts, will be part of a package of measures unveiled on Friday by bosses hoping to encourage a more “humane” approach to a divisive workplace that has reportedly fueled out some employees.

In a company-wide town hall meeting chaired by its joint founder and chief executive, former Lehman Brothers banker Nik Storonsky, employees will be told to be “inclusive, accessible” and “respectful at all times” and to use “the best tone in the voice, time and situation to give feedback”.

The new list of so-called “value-based behaviors” will replace wording on the company’s website that includes warnings about potential employees that “the bar is very high” and that if staff lack “perfection” they will be judged “precisely, not kindly”, even about “it can hurt sometimes”.

The move comes after a series of controversies over Revolut’s working environment in recent years, with some former employees claiming they were set unattainable targets in the name of the startup’s growth, forced to perform unpaid work and put under severe pressure to the point of eventually quitting in their jobs.

Revolut has grown exponentially since 2015, when it launched as a prepaid card offering free currency exchange to customers. It has since become a company that employs 6,000 people in 37 countries and launched more than 50 products and services that ranged from vacation insurance and home rentals, payday advances, buy now, pay later and crypto trading.

The company – which Storonsky hopes will become the “Amazon of banking” – was last estimated to be worth $33 billion in 2021, which at the time was higher than NatWest and led to congratulations from Rishi Sunak, then chancellor, who said he wanted to see “Even more great UK fintech success stories”.

However, widely reported issues surrounding Revolut’s corporate culture, as well as its high staff turnover, are believed to have been raised with Storonsky by board members who have been trying to convince the Financial Conduct Authority to approve the company’s UK banking license application since early on. 2021.

Led by former Standard Life Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert, Revolut secured an EU banking license through Lithuania in 2018. Securing a UK license would allow Revolut to hold its UK customers’ deposits – rather than relying on a licensed partner – and make money by offering their own loans to customers. The company hopes that UK approval will then convince US, Australian and even Japanese regulators to follow suit and issue licences.

Revolut denies that the planned cultural “shift” is directly intended to appease the financial watchdog. However, one of its senior executives admitted that the firm had previously failed to address the “human” side of day-to-day work.

“I wouldn’t say this is a direct reaction from regulatory discussions … This is more related to our growth and how we change and the feedback we got from our people. We really needed to shift and change,” says Hannah Francis, the head of human experience at Revolut.

She continued: “We had some comments that it potentially seemed a bit more aggressive, but in the rapid hyper-growth that was Revolut many years ago. We’ve really progressed since then. So what we really wanted to do is make sure that this new declaration of values ​​in a way covers the more human aspect of our people, and of how we cooperate with each other.”

Revolut’s overhaul effort will involve a “CultureLab” team of behavioral science experts, data analysts and psychologists focused on assessing whether employees are following the new standards.

The company said it would also revamp performance reviews for senior managers, require one-on-one debriefings between managers and employees focused on the new values, and would pay more attention to whether recruits were not just good workers, but a good “culture fit ” for the company.

Revolut said it also launched a new “value champions” recognition and reward program focused on employee behavior as well as work performance.

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