22-year-olds thrive in Revolut’s tough culture
Revolution, the most valuable in Europe fintech, is a place that demands a lot from its employees. He is also the one who gives a lot, especially to his young staff. This youth-focused approach has existed since its inception. One of his most notable alumni, Alan Changjoined at age 21 and left a millionaire at age 28.
If you’re a new grad looking to get ahead, Revolut still seems to be the place to do it. In a weekend article, the FinancialTimes reported that a number of twenty-somethings from the app-based bank have been promoted to “founding partners” by CEO Nik Storonsky. Their role is “to observe the professions and report directly to them”. Revolut has reportedly referred to these young people as “COOs” for a year.
Some of those COOs spent a few years in the industry, like Amantay Nurgaliyev who graduated in 2014 and left a job at Uber for Revolut in February. Similarly, another manager – Alena Rybalko, spent over two years working for Revolut before moving to rival Paysend. Rybalko returned to Revolut and worked in the business for another two years before becoming chief operating officer last summer.
However, other operating managers reporting directly to Storonsky at Revolut had much less experience. For example, Viktor Bondestam and Alessandro Giarré only graduated in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The newest addition to the cadre, Eduardo Maric from the COO’s office, only graduated in 2020 before joining in October.
Storonsky’s appeal for youth caused a stir among senior Revolut executives who suddenly found relatively junior people in positions of power. Also on weekends The temperature reported that an executive who resigned ahead of an FCA review last year left “in part because he couldn’t persuade Storonsky to change the culture” in a meaningful way. geven the youth culture of FTX before its collapse, the experience suddenly seems more important.
Revolut’s cultural idiosyncrasies are well documented and apparently caught the attention of regulators. An FCA review “raised the alarm” about an “undesirable culture and operational issues” within fintech according to the Financial Times, which quotes a former executive who describes the culture as “relentless”.
It’s not all bad though. While the culture is led by Storonksy, he is also fair and unbiased. The Times praises Revolut’s CEO for being “very generous” in giving people equity and enabling a secondary sale of shares every funding round. Former colleague, Nutmeg founder Nick Hungerford says Storonksly, “is incredibly focused and determined and makes no excuses for who he is.”
And yet, Hungerford acknowledges that Storonksly can also be “really hard to digest” for “a lot of people.” It’s not that he’s “a bad person” or “toxic,” said the executive who resigned. It’s just that the CEO of Revolut is a so-called ‘machine’ without an ‘equalizer’, and that this ‘leads to a culture of high friction’.
Revolut responded to the Financial Times by stressing that its “high performance culture” is “diverse, supportive and encourages people to be the best”. During an investor call last week, Storonsky saw himself as a “coach” for his team of “elite athletes.”
Revolut is not for everyone. Blind reviews on the Blind forum website give the fintech an average rating of 2.9 stars. There are far more 1-star reviews than 5-stars, and the lowest-rated category within the company is its management. A review of a current employee this month describes it as “chaos” and warns of a “lack of psychological safety.” Reviews on Glassdoor fare a little better with an average of 3.6 stars. Although only 66% would recommend working there, 74% approve of the CEO.
And yet, there are advantages to working there. Storonsky, in that call for investors, said “no one will be on the team forever” and that “everyone understands and accepts that.” With examples like Alan Chang proving how much working for Revolut can pay you, a short burst of intense work can be quite worthwhile.