Monzo wants higher staff turnover

This sounds a bit worrying for existing staff! Are there opportunities to retrain to gain the new skills the bank needs?

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Could you give us a precis / sense of the article please?

(I don’t use Yahoo as I can’t see an easy way to manage my privacy/cookie settings. For the life of me I don’t know how they’re GDPR compliant. Probably missed something obvious somewhere…)

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Basically Monzo want to make it easier for people to leave as the people they hired 5 years ago aren’t necessarily the people they need today.

It’s an incredibly insensitive and clumsy article imo.


“Something we could do better at is making it really possible and a really great experience for people to leave when they know that it’s time,” Nicholson said at the Fintech Talents conference in London.

“The people that you hire in year one, year two, [sic] is not the same person that you’re hiring five years later,” Nicholson said.

Monzo wants higher, not lower, staff turnover

Buzzy, app-only bank Monzo has an unusual problem — too few staff are leaving.

Bobbi Nicholson, Monzo’s people operations lead, said on Tuesday that the bank is working on new ways to encourage staff turnover at the company.

“Something we could do better at is making it really possible and a really great experience for people to leave when they know that it’s time,” Nicholson said at the Fintech Talents conference in London.

At issue is the fact that Monzo needs different people today than it did in its earlier years. The startup was founded in 2015 as a pre-paid card linked to an app, mainly focused on London. Today, it is a fully licensed bank with over 3.3 million accounts and is in the early stages of expanding to the US.

“The people that you hire in year one, year two, [sic] is not the same person that you’re hiring five years later,” Nicholson said.

Monzo has around 800 staff and about 3% leave each year, according to Nicholson.

“Is that a good thing or is that a problem in itself?” she said. “Actually, you want people to be able to leave.”

Nicholson said the high retention rate was partly driven by the bank’s share option, which gives staff the option to buy shares in Monzo at a set price after a number of years.

Option schemes are a typical method of incentivising people to join tech startups, where cash for salaries can be tight. If a startup’s share price rises above the so-called ‘strike’ price set in the options scheme, staff can buy shares below market value and sell them for profit (in theory). Schemes like these give staff a way to profit from the success of tech startups and mean the businesses don’t have to shell out cash up-front to attract talent.

“I think that is a problem in tech companies as well,” Nicholson said. “We give share options to everybody, which is great, it’s a great incentive to stay, but not everyone needs to.”

Jack Villiers, Monzo’s technical recruiting lead, said the strong management and people development at the company also encourage staff to hang around. He said encouraging the right amount of turnover was “something we think about a lot.”

Earlier in the talk, Nicholson had joked that Monzo could feel like “a cult.”

“But in a good way,” she added.

I mean none of that is untrue. How sensitive it is is another story…

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Article says they have 800 staff. They’ve had over a thousand almost all year.

It was confirmed at the weekend they have about 1400. :man_shrugging:t2:


Isn’t this true of any largish business? Businesses change focus, ambition and implementations over time and, ideally, the staffing would track with the change. In the real world, of course, that never happens and the business needs to manage that.

I don’t see why this is suddenly a Monzo issue other than the fact that Monzo makes good headline content at the moment :man_shrugging:


Presumably Monzo needs the kind of people who thought Original Plus was a good idea (and then Bundles a mind–blowing one) to “move on”?

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To extend my thought further, I suspect that any business that isn’t in this state to some degree has a stagnation problem.

What you don’t usually get are businesses coming out and stating that they’d like to shift people on. It’s pretty insensitive in my view.


Transparency can be inconvenient I guess. Someone having issues on this forum over the revelation of too much information is a refreshing change but we can’t have it both ways.

It doesn’t look that unkind to me. At work we just get the occasional wishy washy hand wringing announcements about how we’re “top heavy”. I’d much prefer this level of honesty.

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“a really great experience for people to leave when they know that it’s time”

Emphasis mine

That sounds pretty innocent and sensitive to me

An example here could be Simon V-C, with Mondo since basically the very start, heading off to try his hand at his own thing. How do you make the experience of staff #2 or 20 leaving a good one?


It should be pointed out that Monzo started as a start-up (if that’s not a tautology) and now has a staff of over 1400. I completely get why some staff might be better suited or prefer one environment to the other.


This is a problem that most high growth startups experience, Uber is a good example and it’s so common it has a name: “Golden Handcuffs”. Stock options have drawbacks that are typically the cause of this problem that isn’t necessarily to the employer’s benefit – hence, Monzo’s concerns.

The typical solution is greatly increasing the exercise window (it’s usually around 1 - 3 months) which is becoming more popular in technology startups, this GitHub repository has an index of companies that have an extended exercise window.

Relevant article:

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I think the headline is a pretty sensationalist take on what was actually said. I suspect that we could more flexible around the subject of options, purely because different people have different levels of impact that could be suited towards the size of the company. Someone might exhaust their impact getting the company from small to medium size, and then know that their particular skill set might then have diminishing returns - they shouldn’t be penalised if that growth happens over a shorter timeframe than usual.

A former staff member who I have a huge amount of respect for, once said something that stuck with me. When I asked her why she was leaving, she said words to the effect of “I told myself I’d never work somewhere with more than 100 staff”. At that time, I think we had rapidly hit 200 or maybe 300, and it had happened very quickly. I thought that was incredibly considered of her - effectively she felt that her own impact was very high in startups, and less so when a startup becomes a bigger company. And she was someone that had made an absolutely massive impact at this company since very early on.

It would be a shame if people felt this way but stayed due to needing more time for options to vest etc. It’s something that folks should be aware of. I’ve had interest from all sorts of startups - and some are places where I know I could have an impact. For me, I feel like the impact I have here is increasing, so I’m still here, but it would be frustrating if I didn’t feel that way and I was only waiting out the time for options to vest.


Anyone else think it’s odd that HR bods (“people operations lead” in Monzo lingo) who think people need to leave rarely come to the conclusion that it’s them that should go?


In the case of Monzo, I think at least one early stage People/HR person decided to do exactly that…


At Monzo it’s 10 years.

I suspect it would be difficult to implement due to allegations of unfairness, but I wonder if part of the solution could be (or would have been, if implemented from the beginning) some sort of accelerated vesting in lieu of a bonus.

E.g. if you do something substantially impactful, you vest an extra X months.

Also, let’s not forget that people who were there earlier will have a more favourable strike price, so early-impact is kind of taking into account.