Revolut hires ex-Barclays exec to expedite UK banking license

abdelaziz Fathi

Revolut announced the appointment of Francesca Carlesi as the CEO of its UK operations. She is set to replace James Radford, stepping into the role as CEO of Revolut NewCo, the entity expected to hold Revolut’s UK banking license.

With a background that includes over 15 years in finance, Carlesi joins Revolut after her recent departure from Molo Finance, a digital mortgage lender she founded and led as CEO. Her career spans senior positions at financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank and Barclays, and over a decade at McKinsey. Carlesi, who holds a PhD in banking and finance from the University of Rome, also has experience at Bridgepoint Capital.

The move to bring Carlesi on board is notable, given Revolut’s current leadership composition. She joins as one of the few female senior leaders in the company, alongside India country head Paroma Chatterjee and Japan country head Yoko Makiguchi. This appointment follows the recent departure of Kitty Ussher, former economic secretary to the UK Treasury, from her role as a non-executive director on the board of Revolut’s UK banking entity.

“Revolut is the future of digital banking. With nearly eight million customers in the UK and a diversified product offering, the company is at the forefront of change in financial services,” said Carlesi.

“As we continue to build out our leadership team, Carlesi’s extensive experience across the banking and fintech sectors makes her the perfect CEO to drive our UK business forward. As a founder of her own fintech, and having spent many years across the banking industry, Francesca knows what it takes to challenge the banking incumbents, and I look forward to celebrating her successes here in the months to come,” Revolut UK chairman Richard Holmes said.

As Carlesi gears up to start next month, a key focus is expected to be on advancing Revolut’s efforts to secure a banking license in the UK, a process that has been ongoing for over two years.

Britain’s most valuable start-up faced delays in securing a UK banking license, partly due to concerns raised during the publication of its long-delayed 2021 accounts in March 2023. At that time, BDO LLP, the UK’s fifth largest accounting firm, said it had been unable to fully verify nearly £500 million of revenues, adding that “the risk of an undetected material misstatement was unacceptably high” due to the configuration of Revolut’s internal IT systems.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is also investigating whether Revolut allowed money to be withdrawn from accounts flagged as suspicious by the National Crime Agency.

The alleged failure occurred between July and August, with as much as £1.7 million being released from such accounts. Revolut stated that it informed the FCA about the issue recently, but it claims that only £500,000 was released from the suspicious accounts.

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