Fintech firm Wise shares fall after CFO quits, CEO to go on leave

Fintech firm Wise shares fall after CFO quits, CEO to go on leave

  • Wise shares fell about 4% on Monday morning after the money transfer firm announced that CFO Matt Briers will step down next year.
  • Briers will leave the firm after an eight-year stint during which Wise went from a scrappy currency challenger to a publicly traded fintech with millions of users.
  • Kristo Kaarman, Wise’s CEO, will be on sabbatical starting in September, Wise said.

Kristo Kaarmann, CEO and co-founder of Wise.

Eoin Noonan | Sports File | Getty Images

Shares in British fintech firm Wise fell on Monday, after the company said CFO Matt Briers will leave the company next year, while CEO Kristo Kaarman will go on paternity leave from September.

Wise shares were down about 3% at 10:50 a.m. London time, following management’s announcements.

“A comprehensive search for a new CFO will begin immediately,” Wise said in a Monday update to investors.

Kaarman, who co-founded Wise with Taavet Hinrikus, will take an “extended Wise sabbatical” between September and December to spend time with family, the company said.

Wise’s chief technology officer Harsh Sinha will step up to take over as CEO in the interim.

Briers will step down as Wise CFO in March 2024 – once Kaarman has returned from a sabbatical – to fully recover from a cycling accident that occurred last year.

“After nearly eight years, it’s time for me to think about my life after Wise,” Briers said in a statement.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished in these early chapters at Wise, and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store for the business. Wise is growing rapidly, with a tremendous opportunity ahead of us, and we’ve bucked the trend by to figure out how to do this profitably.”

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In February 2022, Briers was involved in a cycling accident in which he went under the wheels of a bus. Wise appointed an interim CFO in his place at the time, while Briers recovered at home.

Briers said Wise “will probably have a lot of CFOs in the first century, and this is simply me starting the process of handing over the reins to the next one.”

During his time as CFO, Briers took Wise from a scrappy money transfer upstart to a publicly traded financial technology giant with millions of users.

Wise went public in 2021 in London in a rare direct listing – an IPO option where companies offer shares directly to the public without hiring financial intermediaries or creating new shares.

Briers is the second CFO of a major UK fintech firm to announce his departure this month – in May. 11, British digital banking startup Revolut said CFO Mikko Salovaara quit after just two months on the job for “personal reasons.”

Analysts at Jefferies said the management change could be a positive medium-term development for Wise shares, which have underperformed the broader European payments and fintech sector of late.

They speculated that Sinha could be moved up to CEO permanently, with Kaarmann as executive chairman instead.

This “would allow Käärmann to focus on a broader role of running the business, while leaving Sinha, who gained experience at PayPal and eBay, to the day-to-day execution,” Jefferies analysts said.

Wise has not indicated that Kaarmann plans to step down as CEO permanently.

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