N26’s top executives warned co-founders over ‘dysfunctional’ leadership

N26’s high executives accused the co-founders of considered one of Europe’s most extremely valued fintechs of selling a “tradition of worry” that threatened to drive the group right into a “downward spiral”.

In an explosive memo despatched final 12 months, N26’s six most senior staff warned Max Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf that their “relationship and methods of working” with executives on the German firm had been “fairly dysfunctional in a number of dimensions”.

The interior “dialogue doc” was despatched in February 2022 by Thomas Grosse, who was N26’s chief danger officer till he resigned final week. It was co-authored by chief monetary officer Jan Kemper, interim head of HR Eva Glanzer, chief product officer Gilles BianRosa, chief know-how officer Gino Cordt and chief progress officer Alex Weber.

Glanzer and Kemper have additionally since left N26, which was based in 2013 to disrupt Germany’s banking trade. The corporate, which counts Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing amongst its backers, was valued at greater than €7.7bn in a fundraising in October 2021.

Nonetheless, the group, which has 8mn retail prospects throughout Germany and 20 different European nations, has been blighted by rising pains and was ordered by Germany’s monetary regulator to improve its inside controls.

In October 2021, BaFin imposed a draconian cap on N26’s shopper progress after the regulator grew to become more and more involved with organisational flaws on the firm.

The memo, which was despatched solely months after N26’s fundraising, warned Tayenthal and Stalf that the management crew “will not be functioning in a productive (and even merely ample) means”. This, it added, had resulted in a degree of “churn in addition to steady organisational dysfunctionalities”.

The co-founders had been accused of a “lack of belief in executives and broad organisation” that was leading to “confusion and decrease progress”. In a scathing critique, Tayenthal and Stalf had been additionally stated to have a behavior of “rewriting historical past on agreed subjects” and a bent to “shoot the messenger” if selections taken turned out to be fallacious.

“Of explicit concern is the institution of a tradition of ‘worry’ and blaming, fostered by lots of the behavioural issues we need to deal with,” the memo notes.

In an announcement to the Monetary Occasions, N26 declined to touch upon “any inside conversations, emails or different inside data” however confused that it has made “vital investments into governance and management” over the previous 18 months. “We take that critically in any respect ranges of the corporate, together with at senior management degree. Suggestions is an important a part of this.”

The interior memo was reported earlier on Tuesday by Germany’s Supervisor Magazin.

N26 overhauled its governance final November, when it established a supervisory board that oversees and appoints the chief board. The supervisory board is chaired by Marcus Mosen, a funds trade veteran and early investor in N26. 

N26 co-founders Valentin Stalf, left, and Max Tayenthal had been advised they promoted a ‘tradition of worry’ on the fintech © Robert Rieger

Nonetheless, the issues described within the memo stay simply as urgent than when it was despatched, in response to individuals acquainted with inside discussions at N26.

Over the previous 12 months N26 has misplaced a few of its most senior managers, with Grosse being the newest departure. Whereas the financial institution stated that his exit was brought on by his “private circumstances”, Grosse advised the FT that the “causes for my choice are complicated”. He declined to remark additional.

Weber has knowledgeable N26 that he desires to go away later this 12 months after 9 years on the firm, in response to individuals acquainted with the matter.

N26 advised the FT that Weber “from the start of his profession [ . . .] had the imaginative and prescient of founding his personal firm and at all times exchanged concepts with each founders about the proper time to start out his personal enterprise,” including that there was “no new data on this right now”. Weber declined to remark past N26’s assertion.

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