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Exclusive: Lightyear hires ex-Robinhood boss as COO

Wander Rutgers, who has joined the fast-growing stock trading fintech Lightyear, previously led Robinhood UK.

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Wander Rutgers/AltFi

The former boss of Robinhood UK Wander Rutgers has joined stock trading fintech Lightyear as its new chief operating officer.

As one of Lightyear’s first angel investors, Rutgers has been helping the company’s two founders Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, all three are Wise (formerly TransferWise) alumni. He also became an official advisor to the company in January 2022.

Rutgers previously led the Robinhood UK team, the US-fintech giant’s first foray into international expansion.

Robinhood eventually pulled the plug on a UK launch, originally planned for early 2020 owing to the immediate uncertainty caused by the pandemic joining many other fintechs in curtailing international ambitions. 

A particular focus [of the role] will be the growing complexity of the compliance and financial infrastructure side of the business, Rutgers told AltFi,

“I will largely focus on the financial services side of the business. This includes all the payments, operations, the brokerage operations, and getting licenced in all the places where we need to get licenced, making sure we keep the regulators on side and make sure that we work with the best partners so that we can deliver products to customers very quickly,” he said.

 “Lightyear is building a pretty complex financial business. We’re super strong on product and engineering but you need to also make sure you build strong compliance and operational processes and work with the best partners,” he added.

Lightyear started onboarding customers to its app in September of 2021. It currently has about 30 people with roles split evenly between London and Tallinn, Estonia.

It has raised $10m and is aiming to become a pan-European digital wealth app with its first continental European launch planned for this year.

"We're working hard towards our European launch. But we need to make sure that as the company grows, and as we grow in complexity, we can handle that complexity. And that's what I will focus on."

Before the Robinhood role, Rutgers product lead at Plum where he spearheaded the launch of its mutual fund investing product. 

 Before this, he held various roles at Wise across operations and product, including helping the company expand into dozens of new markets. 

Rutgers started his career as a strategy consultant at McKinsey in the Netherlands and earned his M.A. in Economics and Politics at the University of Edinburgh.

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