The fintech where you work less and get paid more
It’s hard not to be a pessimist when looking at fintech news these days. Left and right companies are having their valuations slashed, tanking in stock price or making swathes of job cuts. One Durham based digital bank is doing things a little differently.
Atom Bank may be delaying its debut on the stock market until 2024, but it's thriving compared to others in the fintech sector. The Financial Times reports that Atom plans on raising £50m ($61m). Last Friday it announced a £30m raise which saw Spanish bank BBVA value the fintech at £460m.
This has all been done without yet turning an annual profit, indicating investors see something valuable in this company, whose claim to fame is being the UKs first app-only bank
Atom has been around for a while, acquiring its UK banking license before both Monzo and Starling in 2015. That the two rivals are Unicorns while Atom is stuck at half that valuation might cause concern to some, but to others it could be a sign of level headedness and forward thinking. While other fintechs have expanded wildly, for example, Atom has been circumspect - adding only 21 new staff in its most recent financial year. It employs 424 people.
Some of those 424 people could be come very wealthy if Atom floats. Like most fintechs, the company issues stock to staff, including yearly share options and options issued to employees who helped build the bank. Atom's location means it's competing for different staff to London-based fintechs. The company has been working on a North East Fintech Strategy for 2023 to 2026, helping the region stand out as one of the emerging UK fintech clusters. However, it also has an office in London. As such, it attracts both people with experience in big international banks and local players in the north of the UK. For example, senior hires this year include CTO Andy Sturrock, a former strategy and architechture director at Bank of America, and CRO Rebecca Cartwright, who has held positions at multiple smaller banks in the midlands such as Wesleyan Bank and the Melton Building Society.
There are also signs that Atom is a popular exit for people at the Bank of England. Model validation manager Juan Martinez and risk manager Sebastien Breiter both worked for the Bank previously and are based in London.
While rival app-based bank Revolut has a reputation for grinding staff hard, Atom seems to be the diametric opposite. It's espoused a four day working week and 100% of its staff approve of CEO Mark Mullen on Glassdoor, a rare sight in the fintech space.
Employees describe the bank as “progressive”, “family friendly” and “supportive” with many highly praising that they are a “real believer in the four day working week.” That is not to say they are perfect as some reviews warn of “stressful” deadlines and “technical debt” which could provide some stumbling blocks in the long term.
Reviews also praise the compensation and high bonuses. Engineering salaries appear to be an average of $44k which, although lower than the London average, is higher than Glassdoor’s average for the north east.
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