The daughter of a steelworker and a department store worker from Bonymaen in Swansea, Anne Boden was pretty ordinary Welsh childhood.
Now she is part of a revolution in the world of finance – and has created its own online bank.
As a student in Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive, Anne was always good in sciences, and continued his studies of chemistry and computer science at the local university.
The interest in technology has been a key factor throughout his 35-year career, which began at the counters of Lloyds Bank in London in 1981.
A turning point was the banking crisis of 2008. She describes the period as “horrible”, one is reminded of when people literally leave their jobs in tears.
Anne became the head of operations of the Allied Irish Banks – one of Ireland’s big four – in 2012, when he had to pick up the pieces.
“I think that for many, many years, we had become invincible,” he said of the industry. “We started to believe our own propaganda.
“After the financial crisis, I spent the time of the big banks, around the world, to find out what had happened and what we can do to fix it.
“When they called us to go to Allied Irish Banks, which had a huge government bailout to try to turn it around and bring it back to profitability, they have to reduce costs and deal with tens of thousands of Irish citizens who had suffered from the financial crisis.
“It was a great learning experience. And that is what really led me to believe that we should do something different.”
The germ of an idea and a “big dream” with the time was in 2014 at the launch of Starling – the use of technology to develop a new style of bank.
Starling is only digital, with clients that use the application, with data and analysis to help keep through the transactions and manage the different areas of your personal finances.
There are No branches and no one sells financial products.
“The whole industry had changed: Amazon had changed shopping, iTunes had changed the music. No one really had fundamentally changed the banking,” he said.
“I was very concerned that they were putting the banks in the way they were, pretending that the banking crisis had not happened. I knew that I had to take the opportunity to do something different, and take a risk.”
This includes the sale of a house in Swansea, where he spent the week-end, so that she could hire more people.
It is still early. There are just over 100 employees in Starling, and has more of a feel of a technology company than a traditional finance institution.
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Walking through its London office, there is an informality to the right down to the chill-out zone with table tennis and table football.
People with different skills that mix – engineers to sit next to bankers and marketing experts.
The funny thing is that the office space used to belong to UBS, the giant bank Anne used to work. But Starling is very different and is in constant development and change of what is offered to the customers.
The entire organization meets at 4pm on the Friday to the “demo time” where engineers and designers show what they’ve built – and then is displayed to customers the following week.
“We all work together, we have something really innovative and creative if we have artists, engineers, and finance people working together,” he said.
“We have no departments here, we have people working together to make things happen.”
QUICK QUESTIONS:When do you relax and how?
I don’t really relax, but when I’m not working I like to write. Where is your favorite place in the country of Wales – and why?
It should be Gower. When I was a child that I was going to spend the weekend in the summer at Port Eynon but now must be to Rhossili. What would you say to a young person of 16 years of age, a child growing up in Wales now?
I had my inspiration from the television, where I saw the strange career woman. Today anything is possible – the internet gives us a window to a wider world and the woman to change the world for the better, it could be. It is International Women’s Day – inspiring a woman to put on a bank note?
Madeleine Albright [the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton] who said that there was a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. What is the next sector that needs a disruptive shake-up?
The doctor and the health sector.
To be a woman in a man dominated by the banking culture was an advantage, Anne believes that “it really helps to say what you really think, because they do not fit”.
“There aren’t many women in finance, and there are not many women in technology,” she said.
“I have not seen many women throughout my career. I think that I have not mentioned to anyone that it was strange to be the only or one of two women with a group of guys until four or five years ago. Not to mention that kind of thing, pretended it didn’t happen.
Your participation in teams so early will have helped.
“I was very fortunate that I had a technology background and was working in the interesting bit of finance – I have been in the right places at the right time,” he said.
“Women have to have a basic skill – something that the difference, increasing in the organizations.
She believes that in sectors dominated by men, men have to deal with much more peer pressure than women. “You know very well you will never achieve the connection in – to be very good in the foot,” she said.
“I’ve always been different. I’ve always had an accent, Welsh, has been a little bit different to all the others, I don’t mind being different, the only woman in the room, in which he expressed a different opinion. You get used to having the confidence to change things, to innovate.”
Anne Boden I don’t have children, but I don’t think his career would have been different if she had done it.
She believes that once you reach a certain income level, having children is not a race issue but it is for those with lower wages to women who see all their responsibilities – for children, older people and partners – that affect their career.
Starling also includes the men who work part-time because of care responsibilities.
“If women were earning more, if the percentage of women in certain professions were higher, the women could overcome the fact that they are caregivers,” she said.
“I know of women with big jobs that face the same challenges as me [without children].
“I don’t think that, as a woman, to be successful you have to be of one mind and have no personal life”
Anne believes that everyone in Starling is quite stubborn and enjoy “say what you believe.”
“That type of intensity of debate means that people are doing the right thing”, he added.
“We have a long way to go, we’re still a small organization with big aspirations. For me, each one of the hours you spend at work should be something that does something useful. The work is an important part of the lives of the majority, we spent a lot of time here, you might as well enjoy it, you might as well do something to make the world a little better.”
His own career in the banking industry was not planned.
“My expectation was to do something in science – in a rural town somewhere. I don’t think of myself as a great city of the person. My mother told me to apply for a job at a bank, and in 1981 I came to London to work for Lloyds Bank.”
Was UBS in Switzerland before that a senior global role at RBS and Dutch bank ABN AMRO.
But she believes that the internet is in order to give everyone the opportunity to learn more, compared to when she grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. And she has been impressed with some of the technology companies has come through his back on the country of Wales.
“People who grow up in this new world, and in a part of the united kingdom, don’t stop,” he said.
“I’m proud of being from Wales, I believe in talking – most of the people in Wales have access to facilities that allows them to do great things, but we don’t see many models, there are very few speaking up for Wales.
“But we can support each other.”