Robinhood poaches Freetrade exec to lead UK business

abdelaziz Fathi

Zero-fee trading app Robinhood has appointed Jordan Sinclair, a former Freetrade executive, to run its yet-to-be-launched UK business as it prepares to renew its push to win over British investors.

Sinclair has received approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to serve as the Chief Executive of Robinhood UK Ltd.

Jordan Sinclair previously held the position of managing director of Freetrade’s European operation for over a year. Prior to that, he worked as director of strategy and corporate development at Barclays, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The Silicon Valley-headquartered firm, whose mobile app lets users buy and sell public stocks without trading ‎fees, aims to introduce brokerage services for retail investors in the UK later this year. Robinhood’s offering is particularly popular among the “millennial” population, who appreciate the ease of using the app to trade several asset classes without fees.

The discount broker has opened posts for UK-based regulatory experts and an operations lead with experience in securities and brokerage, listings on LinkedIn and the company’s website show. One job listing states the New York-listed broker is “thrilled to be expanding internationally this year as Robinhood is hiring world-class talent in the UK”.

The arrival of Robinhood in the UK market would introduce competition for domestic rivals such as Freetrade and Lightyear, as well as traditional retail stock broking firms like Vanguard, AJ Bell, and Hargreaves Lansdown.

Robinhood had previously attempted to launch in the UK, obtaining a license from the Financial Conduct Authority and building a UK waiting list. Nevertheless, the no-fee investing app abandoned its plans of venturing outside the United States amidst increased scrutiny in its home market over allegations of customer deception. At the time, Robinhood said that rather than pursuing global expansion, it would instead focus on strengthening its infrastructure and look to bond with clients after many trading outages.

Robinhood has also faced criticism for gamifying stock market investing. The UK’s FCA expressed concerns last year that such game-like elements in trading apps could encourage “problem-gambling” behaviors among users.

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