If you want to work for a fintech, British app-based bank Revolut might be a good bet. Firstly, it's a big recruiter. Secondly, it can prepare you well for roles elsewhere. But it's not for everyone.
With a valuation of up to $10bn, Revolut is no longer the tiny upstart it was back in 2015. According to its newly released annual report for 2020, Revolut already has 15 million retail banking customers and over 500,000 business customers. It made revenues of £261m last year and added 873 staff, bringing headcount to 2,158 people.
The upside of working for Revolut
Getting a job at Revolut isn't necessarily easy. When we spoke to him in 2018, Alan Chang, Revolut's SVP for revenues and operations, said the bank was already receiving about 1,000 CVs a week from people who wanted to work there. 99.5% of them were rejected.
"We want to hire the sort of person who becomes a banker or a consultant – with that standard analytical and presentational skillset," said Chang. "If you want to work for a fintech, this is an alternative to going in as a programmer. You don’t need a background in computer science to work for a fintech.”
The potential advantage of spending time at Revolut is reflected in the career of George Robson, the 26-year old former Morgan Stanley banker who spent a few years at the bank as head of product before being headhunted to become a European partner at venture capital firm Sequoia. Revolut employs a group of people of enormous ambition, said Robson on a recent podcast. It measures success in terms of how customers deeply interact with its products, and this is a good schooling for jobs elsewhere in fintech.
Revolut's other advantage has been the potential to gain pre-IPO stock. Chang, who joined after graduating from Imperial College at the start in 2015, and who is still only 27, undoubtedly stands to become very rich when the float happens.
What's the culture like at Revolut?
The downside of working for Revolut has traditionally been seen as a hard-driving culture, although the bank has made moves to address this and many of its employees purport to enjoy it.
"We have a culture that’s direct, hard-working, transparent and ambitious," Chang told us four years ago, adding that Revolut was channeling Bridgewater, the hedge fund who's culture is self-described as 'being like a nudist camp at first:' "We model some of our values on Ray Dalio’s approach at Bridgewater – although ours is a very basic version of what they have there.”
When people leave, it's because they misunderstood what they were getting into, Chang told us. “There’s an expectations gap. They think that because they’re joining a start-up they’ll be hanging out, drinking beer, playing ping pong and going home at 6pm.”
A recent article on Sifted highlighted the differing perceptions of the culture among current and past employees. While some of those interviewed by Sifted said the bank employs an incredibly high calibre of staff and that it trains you how to complete work and solve tasks quickly, others said people struggled with the notion that they'd need to work up to 14 hours a day, plus weekends if something came up: "It’s never going to be a nine-to-five," said one.
What are the working hours like at Revolut?
In 2017, Revolut founder and ex-Credit Suisse trader Nikolay Storonsky underscored Revolut's approach to work. "We are not about long hours — we are about getting sh*t done," he told Business Insider. As a corollary of this Storonksy said people at Revolut, "work long hours...at least 12, 13 hours a day. All the key people, all the core team. A lot of people also work on weekends."
However, the bank also stresses its flexibility: as long as you get the work done, you can work how you like, even if that means coming in late. While most banks call people back to their offices, Revolut has moved to a permanent remote working model and allows its employees to work from wherever for 60 days each year.
“We work hard because we love it," said Chang.
What's the pay like at Revolut?
The bank paid out £115m in wages and salaries and another £40m in share-based payments last year, suggesting that the average employee earned £76k.
The company also offers perks like meals after 7pm and Ubers home after midnight.
So what are the downsides?
Aside from the relentless need to perform, there's also the slight issue that Revolut isn't actually profitable. After more than doubling spending on wages and salaries last year, Revolut made a loss of £168m in 2020, up from a loss of £107m in 2019.
This might explain why people there are expected to work so hard. Storonksy himself seems untroubled by the loss and says the bank has been "investing in growth." After raising $500m last year, he also says Revolut has no need of raising further money for the foreseeable future.
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