Revolut mixes ultra-modern with decades of experience as Martin Gilbert becomes first Chairman

Revolut may well have disrupted the entire traditional banking and investment sector, but its choice of chairman represents decades of interbank and asset management expertise

Prominent London-based challenger bank Revolut may well be very much part of the new direction in electronic, app-led banking and financial services, however the company is beginning to mix its modernity with absolute tradition and institutional expertise.

The number of challenger banks in London has absolutely skyrocketed over recent months, many of the new contenders to traditional banks being led by astute, young former senior technologists or interbank FX executives with a will to disrupt the traditional methods of banking and offer a dynamic, fast and much cheaper method of international interaction with corporate or personal finances than the creaking, loss-making and real estate-heavy high street banks.

For Revolut, one of the initial disruptors in the retail and corporate banking sector, a balance between innovative new methods of banking and references to the expertise of the traditional investment management and banking industry has been struck as the firm has appointed its very first Chairman, Martin Gilbert.

Martin Gilbert (right) with Keith Skeoch in March this year

Mr Gilbert, aged 64, represents a distant disparity from the upstarts who have entered the new age of banking, and has an entire career within the upper echelons of the asset management industry behind him spanning four decades.

His most recent board position saw him serving as vice chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen and chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments, and he has also served as CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, an international investment management company, which he co-founded in 1983. He was chairman of FirstGroup from 1 April 1995 to 1 January 2014, four years after becoming a patron of The Aberdeen Law Project in 2010.

Mr Gilbert co-founded Aberdeen Asset Management in 1983, which he operated for several decades, and in 2014 he received an honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017.

In March 2017, a merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management was announced. At the time, the merger created the UK’s largest asset management firm, and the second biggest in Europe.

In March 2019, Mr Gilbert stepped down as co-CEO of Standard Life Aberdeen.

At the time, Standard Life Aberdeen stated that its board had appointed 62-year-old Keith Skeoch, former Standard Life chief, as sole chief executive of the company.

Mr Gilbert, who led Aberdeen Asset Management for 34 years before becoming co-chief executive of the merged company, then took on the role of vice-chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen.

The co-CEO structure had come under pressure in recent months in light of what had been considered to be continued poor performance since the merger, which was aimed at staunching outflows from the two companies.

Mr Gilbert said he pushed for Keith Skeoch steer the ship on his own after he had already had “a great run” as a CEO. “After 35 years, 9 months and 13 days, I’d done it long enough,” he said, adding: “I wanted to get back to what I felt I was good at, which was the clients.”

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