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Starling Bank founder steps down as CEO to avoid potential conflict of interest

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The founder of Starling Bank, Anne Boden, is to step aside in a surprise move designed to shield the online bank from potential concerns over a conflict of interest, because she is a major shareholder in the lender.Boden, who launched the bank in 2014, said on Thursday that the roles and priorities of a shareholder and chief executive “ultimately differ” and that to ensure there was “no potential conflict”, she would give up her executive role next month but remain on the board as a non-executive director.The former Royal Bank of Scotland and Allied Irish Banks (AIB) executive, who holds a 4.9% stake in Starling, said discussions over her departure began six months ago.She stressed that the decision to step aside after nearly a decade was her own, rather than having been prompted by concerns by UK regulators or the board.“Now that we have grown from being an aspiring challenger to an established bank, it is clear the roles and priorities of a CEO and a large shareholder ultimately differ and require distinct approaches,” she said. “As Starling continues to evolve and grow, separating my two roles is in the bank’s best interests.”The announcement came as Starling – which has 3.6 million customers – announced it had more than doubled its revenues to £453m for the year to March 2023, helping it report its second straight year of annual profits.

Pre-tax profits grew six-fold to £195m from £32m a year earlier.Starling, last valued at £2.5bn, will temporarily be led by its chief operating officer, John Mountain, while the bank carries out an “international search” for Boden’s permanent replacement.Boden grew up in Swansea, Wales, where her father was a steelworker and her mother worked in a department store.

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