Episode 12: WERKIN with Anne Boden on getting the impossible done

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When Anne Boden, founder and CEO of the mobile only Starling Bank told people she was going to start a bank, the most common response was a bemused “you’re going to start a bank?” “I’m going to start a bank,” she would reply. In Hayley’s latest WERKIN with podcast interview, Boden talks about what it takes to disrupt personal banking.

In a post-financial crisis world, wary of large banks, Boden saw a need to do things a bit differently for personal banking:

“I came to the conclusion that we'd gone in and out of the financial crisis and nothing much had changed and I went around the world talking to people figuring out what retail bankers were doing to make customers lives better and came to the realisation that I couldn't do it in a traditional bank. I had to do it by starting from scratch and that's why I quit my job to start a new bank.”

Having studied computer science before launching a successful career in finance, Boden has long been receptive to the power of technology to transform traditional institutions:

“Technology had changed whilest the bankers were really focused on getting their organisations out of the financial crisis. The world changed and technology changed. People were shopping in a different way they were using Amazon and people were buying music in a different way. Banking hadn't really changed. Customers deserve choice. They were using using Google to select the best product and they couldn't use all the great technology out there to make their financial lives better. And we at Starling decided what we were going to bring a lot of that great technology to financial services to do banking for the first time.”

Having the idea to bring banking into the 21st century with mobile first financial services was only the first step. Getting others to see her vision for something that hadn’t been done before would be vital, “if [investors] hadn’t been as receptive to a world that looks very different to the one we were living in then then this wouldn't have happened.”

Articulating a vision for something that hasn’t been done before has proven to be the main driver of Boden and Starling Bank’s success. Having transitioned from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, Boden came up against new challenges from business licenses for a new way of banking to raising money for an idea for which there were few models. It’s a good thing that Boden counts her superpower as “getting the impossible done. My superpower is enjoying the task of doing something that's difficult.”

What’s Boden’s advice for launching something new, be it a career or a business?

“When things get tough just keep on going because if you keep on going, you get a better chance of getting there. Most obstacles you can actually overcome, but you won't if you just stop. So be ambitious go for the big goal and try and change something that's really meaningful.”

For more from Hayley’s interview with Anne Boden on being joyful at work and what employers must to do to bring women into senior positions, check out the full interview on SoundCloud or on iTunes.