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Monzo wants higher, not lower, staff turnover

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Monzo founder Tom Blomfield. Photo: Monzo

Buzzy, app-only bank Monzo has an unusual problem — too few staff are leaving.

Bobbi Nicholson, Monzo’s people operations lead, said on Tuesday that the bank is working on new ways to encourage staff turnover at the company.

“Something we could do better at is making it really possible and a really great experience for people to leave when they know that it’s time,” Nicholson said at the Fintech Talents conference in London.

At issue is the fact that Monzo needs different people today than it did in its earlier years. The startup was founded in 2015 as a pre-paid card linked to an app, mainly focused on London. Today, it is a fully licensed bank with over 3.3 million accounts and is in the early stages of expanding to the US.

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“The people that you hire in year one, year two, [sic] is not the same person that you’re hiring five years later,” Nicholson said.

Monzo has around 800 staff and about 3% leave each year, according to Nicholson.

“Is that a good thing or is that a problem in itself?” she said. “Actually, you want people to be able to leave.”

Nicholson said the high retention rate was partly driven by the bank’s share option, which gives staff the option to buy shares in Monzo at a set price after a number of years.

Option schemes are a typical method of incentivising people to join tech startups, where cash for salaries can be tight. If a startup’s share price rises above the so-called ‘strike’ price set in the options scheme, staff can buy shares below market value and sell them for profit (in theory). Schemes like these give staff a way to profit from the success of tech startups and mean the businesses don’t have to shell out cash up-front to attract talent.

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“I think that is a problem in tech companies as well,” Nicholson said. “We give share options to everybody, which is great, it’s a great incentive to stay, but not everyone needs to.”

Jack Villiers, Monzo’s technical recruiting lead, said the strong management and people development at the company also encourage staff to hang around. He said encouraging the right amount of turnover was “something we think about a lot.”

Earlier in the talk, Nicholson had joked that Monzo could feel like “a cult.”

“But in a good way,” she added.

Yahoo Finance UK is proud to be a media partner for FinTECH Talents — the ultimate global fintech festival in London 11-13 November 2019. There are 3,000 festival-goers + 1,500 innovators representing over 400 different financial services institutions + Rockstar speakers & steering committee members + Over 50 hours of content sessions + Game changing tech companies + The talent of tomorrow + Craft beer and live music sessions.