Looking for ‘’extremely smart’’ people and problem solvers

Revolut is very selective when it comes to hiring talent to drive the fintech’s expansion into Asia, which makes its employees very proud.
By: | December 9, 2019

There is currently a significant mismatch when it comes to finding people with the right technology and digital skills. It’s been a coined a tech talent crunch. So it’s a bold statement when a company raises the bar above the industry norm when seeking new hires.

But that’s exactly what Revolut is doing as it goes on an ambitious recruitment drive. Revolut is a UK-based fintech unicorn founded by entrepreneurs Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. It is currently valued at about US$1.7bn. Having launched this year in Singapore it wants to grow the brand and headcount in this region.

Revolut is in an exciting space with its fast-growing multi-currency wallet. It supports spending and ATM withdrawals in 150 currencies while almost 30 currencies can be sent directly from the app.

HRM Asia spoke to its three-man recruitment team to discover what it looks for in candidates. The team look for three main attributes – the ability to break down walls, being able to cope with ambiguity, and being extremely smart.

Ryan Park, talent acquisition APAC for Revolut, has been in HR and recruitment for 11 years. He explains: “We are not like other companies. We expect input on the first day. So it’s very important to be highly intelligent. You’ve got to be smart enough to solve problems from day one’’.

And as for the two other qualities? ‘’There are many grey areas. Not every country has strong regulations and they differ a lot across different markets. Not a lot of things are black and white. That’s why we look for people who are able to cope with ambiguity,’’ he adds.

The Singapore-based recruiters at Revolut have been busy this year finding strong hires for its leadership team including head of legal, risk and finance. ‘’We are building the team from the top down and then will start looking for fundamentals roles.’’ adds Wen Chen, Senior Recruiter APAC for Revolut.

On Revolut’s 4th anniversary it had 800 employees globally and a customer base of 4 million. Six months on and it currently has a headcount of more than 1,700 and 10m customers. Revolut said recently its deal with Visa will lead to a significant increase in staff globally, rising to 5,000. It’s clearly a company growing fast in the fintech sweetspot.

Regionally, Revolut is in Singapore, and in beta phase in Japan and Australia. But the company is very much globally focused, not regional. As in, it wants to have a presence in the five major continents (with a target of between 20-25 cities) to create a global network.

In January, Revolut had just 2 people in its Singapore office including its Jakub Zakrzewski, its Head of Growth, APAC. Now the number is 27 and growing steadily. By the end of 2020, it hopes to have up to 80 employees here.

When it comes to growing the headcount to support expansion, timing is an issue. ‘’How fast can you hire? That’s the big question. But we don’t compromise until we find the right people,’’ explains Park.

To tackle the talent crunch, Revolut is being creative in its search for the best recruits. It is mixing the best of the tech world (such as ‘’Uber guys’’) with the best of the banking sector.

At the same time it is being very selective. Whereas a prestigious bank like Goldman Sachs selects just 2% of applicants and Google’s rate is 1.8%, for Revolut it’s even lower at 0.5%. Around 400 people apply for every role. ‘’Everybody is very proud to work here,’’ says Park.

Culture is another hot topic for Revolut as new hires are keen to understand more about its purpose and social impact. ‘’We are only 4-and-a-half years old, still a baby. So we are still building our culture. Fintech is building itself a new category and we are building ourselves a new culture.’’

So what do the recruitment team at Revolut want the culture to look like? All three recruitment professionals put their heads together to come up with their wishlist:
Never settle – for the industry standard
Think differently – is there a better way of doing things?
Teamwork – put the interests of Revolut first, not your own KPIs
Get it done

But Revolut is already making a social impact with its multi-currency wallet, offering free spending overseas and significantly lowering international money transfers, which is a huge benefit to migrant workers.

Ryan Park’s own mother is proud that her son works for Revolut as she is saving money every time she is sent money from Singapore to Korea.