'You don't just build a bank overnight': Banking start-up Starling is taking financial services by storm

Starling Bank CEO Anne Boden


The financial crisis was not just a wake up call for the world’s biggest banks – for some, it was a sign of opportunity.

For Anne Boden, the CEO of British mobile-only challenger bank Starling, it was a time to totally rethink the financial services.

Speaking with CNBC at her London office, Boden looked back to when she worked as global transaction services lead for the Royal Bank of Scotland, and recalled her introduction to the world of financial technology (fintech).

“While I was working on the aftermath of the crisis and turning the organization around to focus on customers much more, I learned about fintech, and I came across a number of fintech companies that were doing things with £30,000 ($38,618) that the big banks were doing with £30 million,” she told CNBC in an exclusive interview last Wednesday.

“And all of a sudden I realized that while the whole industry was looking inward on itself, these people had come up with huge opportunities to do things that were great and transformative for customers, and were really listening to customers and responding in a very agile way that was delivering new functionality and new experiences to customers using new technology.”

Boden founded her British fintech start-up in 2014, shortly after she left one of Ireland’s biggest financial institutions, Allied Irish Bank, where she worked as the chief operating officer.

Starling doesn’t have a single physical branch, and relies entirely on a mobile phone app.

Its boss Boden boasts an extensive resume, having served in executive positions at UBS, ABN Amro, RBS and AIB.

Quitting her job

Starling CEO Boden took on the role of COO at AIB in 2012, at a time when banks – especially Irish lenders – were still reeling from the economic impact of the crash.

“Ireland was an opener. It was a country that had a really impactful financial crisis. The country had really been bruised by the banking industry, and I spent a lot of time talking to real customers about

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