If you want to leave banking and work in the fintech sector - or simply to sidestep banking altogether and go straight to fintech - you may have heard of Revolut. Based in London, the app-based bank founded by a former Credit Suisse equity derivatives trader and an ex-Deutsche and UBS developer is already valued at around $1.7bn. It's hiring heavily and expanding rapidly - into the U.S., Asia and Australasia. But don't imagine you'll get a job there easily - or that you'll spend your time sipping kombucha and doing yoga if you do.
Revolut is no ordinary fintech.
What kinds of people work for Revolut?
Every week, Revolut receives around 1,000 CVs from people who want to work there, say Alan Chang and Christos Chelmis, a VP in operations and product owner at the company respectively. 99.5% of those applicants are rejected: the company is extremely fussy about who it hires. "We accept people who are super, super high calibre," says Chelmis. "We want Revolut to be the other place that top students apply, alongside Google, Amazon and Facebook.”
"Super, super high calibre" means that as Revolut expands, it's chasing the same kinds of students and young people who might otherwise work for investment banks or consultancy firms to join its operations team. Top academic qualifications from top universities are the norm. Chang graduated in physics from the UK's Imperial College; Chelmis has a masters in econometrics from the London School of Economics.
The London office ops team also includes people from UCL and Cambridge. While Revolut clearly needs developers and engineers for its development jobs, its current focus is on hiring operations and business development people as it expands. Of over 120 jobs currently advertised globally, only around 25% are for technologists.
"An ops associate at Revolut is a generalist," says Chang. "We want to hire the sort of person who becomes a banker or a consultant – with that standard analytical and presentational skillset. If you want to work for a fintech, this is an alternative to going in as a programmer. You don’t need a background in computer science to work for a fintech.”
What even is operations at Revolut?
Chang and Chelmis are keen to emphasize that operations at Revolut is an exciting place to be.
"Working in operations for Revolut is not like working in operations in a bank," says Chang. "There, you’re the ‘back office’, here it’s almost the other way around. We push the business and drive it forward. We’re active rather than passive and we take direct responsibility for revenue growth and ownership of the margin.”
Practically, you'll either be working in business development and helping Revolut expand overseas, or will be assisting with the development of existing products and markets.
What's the application process for working at Revolut?
If you're one of those 1,000 people a week who fancies working for Revolut, you're going to need to send in your CV. If you're one of the rarer birds that catches their eye, you'll be asked for a screening interview. If you get through that, you'll be given a "home task".
What does this involve? Chang and Christos are cagey. Suffice to say, the home task to work in operations is a dataset which replicates a problem Revolut has faced in real life. You will solve the problem; the successful applicants simply solve it more elegantly than others.
What's the culture like at Revolut?
You're probably not going to work for Revolut if you're super chill and not at all competitive.
"We have a culture that’s direct, hard-working, transparent and ambitious," says Chang, who's LinkedIn profile is preceded by epithets like, "We are underdogs. We innovate. Everyday is a new fight". Chang says that Revolut is channeling Bridgewater, the hedge fund who's culture is self-described as 'being like a nudist camp at first:' "We model some of our values on Ray Dalio’s approach at Bridgewater – although ours is a very basic version of what they have there.”
Some people take exception to this. "The culture is by far the worst I've ever experienced," complains one Revolut review on Glassdoor. Chang is unphased: "“When people leave, it’s because they’ve misunderstood what it means to work for Revolut. There’s an expectations gap. They think that because they’re joining a start-up they’ll be hanging out, drinking beer, playing ping pong and going home at 6pm.”
In any case, Chang says the rate of staff turnover is falling: "The people who didn’t enjoy working here have left and those who are here now love it.”
What are the working hours like at Revolut?
You're also not going to want to work for Revolut if you have a lot of hobbies and like to work eight hours a day or less. Revolut founder and ex-Credit Suisse trader Nikolay Storonsky is famously unapologetic about the company's working hours. "We are not about long hours — we are about getting sh*t done," he told Business Insider last year. As a corollary of this Storonksy said people at Revolut, "work long hours...at least 12, 13 hours a day. All the key people, all the core team. A lot of people also work on weekends."
Chang and Chelmis are no exception to this rule. However, both stress that Revolut is very flexible. "There is no clock watching culture here," says Chelmis (who previously worked for J.P. Morgan). "People know what their goals are, and how they choose to work towards those goals is up to them." Accordingly, while both work 13 hour days in pursuit of their goals, one comes in at 8.30am and goes home at 9.30pm and another arrives at 10.30am and goes home closer to midnight. Another unnamed person at Revolut reportedly arrives at work at midday and goes home in the early hours of the morning.
As long as you get the work done, it's up to you. People at Revolut seem to like this. “We work hard because we love it," says Chang. It probably helps that the average age at the company is 28.
What's the pay like at Revolut?
Salaries at Revolut are "market" say Chang and Chelmis, refusing to elaborate further. Needless to say, there are also stock options which could be worth a lot when Revolut eventually IPOs.
The company also offers perks like meals after 7pm and Ubers home after midnight.
So why would you want to work for Revolut?
Aside from the $1.7bn valuation, the prospect of making loads of money in an IPO and the free meals in the evenings, another reason to work for Revolut is that it's hiring. The London office employs 150 staff and expects to double this in the next few years. New York and Singapore are recruiting, as is Australia. If you join now in London, the chances are you'll be sent to drive the expansion overseas.
Chang and Chelmis are also big on the concept of 'ownership'. “When you’re a product manager, you manage a whole scheme of projects, from beginning to end,” says Chelmis. It helps that Revolut has a policy of building everything in house rather than buying-in systems externally. "At a bank, you're maintaining old systems. Here, you are building from scratch,” Chelmis adds.
“People here enjoy working hard," he reiterates. "You get a lot of responsibility and you get to deliver something at the end of it. It’s not like you’re making a presentation that no one will ever see, or are working on a deal that will never get done...”
If you're a top student in your 20s who's happy to work 13 hour days, join the queue.
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