By John Reynolds on Thursday 24 June 2021
Steve O'Hear, a former fintech journalist with TechCrunch, says if there is an over reliance on founders it can be "an issue" for fintechs.
It makes sense for fintech founders to step down as CEO if they are not “energised” by parts of the role, according to the former fintech journalist who broke the story about Tom Blomfield stepping down as UK CEO of Monzo, then exiting the neo bank.
In May last year, it was revealed that the founder of Monzo was moving from the role of UK CEO to president, then in January this year the news broke that Blomfield was exiting the challenger bank altogether.
Blomfield, who had taken Monzo from a small start-up to one of the most valuable fintechs in Europe, said that he had been unhappy during the last few years as CEO and that he had ‘“struggled” during the pandemic.
Asked whether he was surprised by Blomfield’s exit and, more generally, whether it was wise for fintech CEOs to stand down after a certain period, Steve O’Hear, the former fintech journalist with TechCrunch, said: “I don’t think we should try to propagate a culture, in this industry, of kind of one size fits all.”
He said that in Blomfield’’s case he found parts of the jobs that “energised him” and “parts of the jobs that didn’t”.
“I think if there is an over reliance on the founders or they are not able to do parts of the job that really energise them, I think that’s an issue,” he added.
“I don’t want to speak for Tom but I think in certain cases it makes sense for the CEO to step aside, maybe go up to chairperson.
“If it’s a way of them filling in other domain experts that can execute on parts of the business that they no longer get energised from or maybe aren’t very good at.”
O'Hear, who now works as vice presidet of strategy as Zapp, the on-demand delivery service firm, also said those fintechs that had been sucessful over the years had filled a gap in the market.
“I think the fintechs that have done best are the ones that have actually nailed a problem or expericence that customers want," he said.
He pointed to example of Starling Bank doing well in SME banking, which he said “was broken”.