Tell us about what you do here?
As the Chief Financial Officer for Monzo I am responsible for controlling and reporting on all aspects of the company’s performance. This includes:
• Providing management information to the board and senior management including budgeting forecasting and planning. I also run scenario analysis to understand the impact on our business of a range of possible eventualities.
• Regulatory planning. Control and understanding of our capital and liquidity is critical because these are the the most precious commodities for a bank. Running out of these means that the bank may be unable to continue to operate.
• Regulatory reporting. I am also responsible for submitting regulatory returns to the PRA, FCA and the Bank of England. This is the way in which the regulators keep tabs on what we (and other banks) are doing to ensure that we remain financially secure.
What were you doing before you worked at Monzo?
I spent many years working as a CFO in large banks but had become disillusioned with the industry as a whole. I decided that I wanted to utilise my skills in a company where I could make a real difference, so I co-founded a sports app and was working to get this to market. As a result of this work I became very interested in the world of startups. When I was contacted and asked to become a co-founder of Monzo it seemed like the ideal opportunity.
What did you find challenging about moving from the world of conventional banking to working in a startup environment?
Having worked for a number of years as the head of a large team in a conventional bank, going into a startup meant rolling up my sleeves and cracking on with whatever needed doing in order to get things moving. I found this incredibly invigorating and exciting but a bit scary as well. The other thing was that in the beginning, every week felt like the most important week of the company’s life - a bit like a running a fast hurdle race rather than a long steeple chase!
On a day-to-day basis, who do you work with and how does the team run?
I work closely with the Monzo treasurer on day-to-day activities. As finance impacts on, and is affected by all areas of the Monzo business, I interact with all of the other teams that we have established at Monzo as well as my fellow executive committee and board members. The board consists of directors who have been appointed by the shareholders to provide the overall governance and direction for Monzo. They are not involved in the business on a day-to-day basis.
Myself and the CEO Tom Blomfield are the executive directors who are charged with executing the strategy agreed with the board. The executive committee consists of the CEO plus other senior members of staff and they meet to discuss and debate the day-to-day operating activities of Monzo.
What are you working on at the moment?
As a CFO you never have the luxury of working on only one thing. My major current priority has been to complete the annual financial statements. As these are our first audited accounts there is a great deal of set-up work required.
The financial statements are documents that set out how the company has performed and its financial position at the year-end. It also includes a great deal of additional financial information about the company which is designed to ensure that the reader is able to gain a good understanding of the financial position of the company. Once complete, the role of the auditor is to confirm that the financial statements provide a ‘true and fair’ view and that the reader would not be misled when reading them.
The other priority is maintaining and updating our rolling 18 month plan. This is important so that we can track how we are doing against our expectations and plan for the future.
What kind of personal qualities do you think make a good CFO?
Two immediate things spring to mind - a love of change and the ability to prioritise. Financial services has always been a relatively fast paced industry in which change is the one constant. Scanning the environment to determine what changes are coming - be they new regulations, financial reporting requirements or business changes - and how best to position the company to deal with them are essential. In a startup bank like Monzo this requirement is multiplied many times over. The trick is to learn how to tackle these in the right order and also not to beat yourself up if you get it wrong occasionally!
How does a busy man like yourself like let his hair down?
First of all I am very thankful that I still have some hair to let down! One of the great things about working at Monzo is being part of a young enthusiastic environment in which people work hard and play hard. The range of social activities that are available are amazing, everything from pilates to cocktail making!
Outside of work I really enjoy live sport and music. An evening at Stamford Bridge following Chelsea or the O2 watching a band have been known to set my pulse racing. For a calmer experience I enjoy spending time on the fairways of my golf club - although that can also induce a large degree of frustration on occasions.
If you weren’t at Monzo, what would you be doing?
I’d definitely be involved in an entrepreneurial business of some kind - where I believed in the product and felt there was the opportunity to influence the direction of the company. Working with like-minded people would be a definite must.
You can check out a sneak peek of the Monzo Annual Report on the community forum!