Digital Nation Viewpoints: Tom Blomfield OBE, CEO at Monzo

11 Jul 2019

Monzo closed a new £85 million investment round in October 2018, to become a unicorn, valued at £1 billion. The challenger bank has reached over one million customers, accounting for 15% of all new bank accounts opened each month in the UK.

How important is it to build an employer brand?

It is incredibly important. More and more people are ‘mission driven’ rather than money driven so they are looking to contribute to something they believe in rather than simply going to the places that will give them the highest salary.

How can companies effectively build culture, maintain it and communicate it to employees?

Culture has to be an authentic representation of the people in the company but culture is organic and you are looking to nurture and grow your culture, not just freeze it in time. Our culture today is a combination of the five hundred people or so who have joined in the last three-and-a-half years, not just the first 13 or 14 people. So, it really feels like watering that plant and growing it.

With talent, it is important to assess not just cultural fit but culture ‘add’ at interview stage, otherwise you often just get a very homogenous group of people and a lack of

diversity leading to siloed group thinking.

What role should company leaders play in company values?

Leaders have to really work by example, and showing vulnerability is huge as it really enables people to empathise with you. There’s a risk that at the top of a company there’s almost this mythical status, but that’s totally unrealistic and unhealthy.

How important are the ‘beyond the salary’ benefits?

They come in many different forms. We don’t have the cash to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. We compete in different ways. I really think that it’s the mission and the culture and

the environment. The materialist benefits such as free lunches, free massages or free laundry services, all of these non-cash perks that these US tech giants play on can breed a culture of entitlement that I’m really cautious to resist. At Monzo we’re in a fancy new office and you see us in the press every day – there’s a risk that you think we’ve made it and we can just coast. I really want to disavow people of that notion; we’re still scrappy and frugal and really fighting for survival.

What are you doing around diversity in its widest forms – LGBT, disabled, socio-economic?

We publish an annual report on diversity and a six-month update. Gender stats are around 65/35 male/female. LGBT-plus is about 27 or 28% of the workforce, and something like 95 or 96% of people who identified as LGBT-plus said they feel comfortable being themselves at work.

I think we’ve got a really long way to go – assuming we’re done is very dangerous. I think that as a straight, white, privileged Oxford-educated man I have to realise that my experience of this is probably not the uniform experience.

How are you approaching parental leave?

Parental leave is another issue where the burden of childcare seems to fall very heavily on women and one part of that is maternity leave, simply taking time out of the workforce. It’s a choice they make but making that choice means they’re two or three years less experienced than their

male equivalent. We’re pushing men to take paternity leave. I’m making sure that my COO takes his full paternity leave. I would really like parental leave to be shared equally between men and women – I think that would get rid of a big part of the systemic bias that basically means that above child-rearing age women slip down the career path.

How are you reacting to the rising demand across the industry for flexible hours and remote working?

This has always been important to us and we have been open to that from day one. Probably only 50% of our staff are in our London office and maybe 20% in our other offices. We also where possible allow people to only work two or three days a week or with hours that are flexible.

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