Fintech Wise CFO to retire, CEO to go on leave

Fintech Wise CFO to retire, CEO to go on leave

Wise, a UK-based money transfer fintech, announced on Monday that CFO Matt Briers would step down next year, while CEO Kristo Käärmann will go on paternity leave in September, CNBC reported.

Käärmannwho co-founded Wise with Taavet Hinrikus in 2011, will take a sabbatical between September and December to spend time with family, the company said.

Briers retires in March 2024 after Käärmann returns to work from the break, noted the outlet. He has been CFO for almost eight years and returned to the position last May after a bicycle accident in February 2022. He wants to take time to fully recover from the accident.

“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 huge opportunity in front of us, and we have bucked the trend by figuring out how to do this profitably,” he added.

Wise’s chief technology officer Harsh Sinha will step up to take up the role of interim CEO, Käärmann said in a blog post. Before joining in 2015, Sinha worked at companies such as PayPal and eBay and brought his experience in product building and operations support to Wise, he noted.

“An extensive search for a new CFO will begin immediately,” Wise said in an update to his investors on Monday, the publication said.

When Briers was involved in a bicycle accident last February, the fintech appointed an interim CFO in Brier’s place during his recovery process at home, the outlet highlighted.

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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,” Briers said, according to the media release.

During his tenure as CFO, the wire service noted, Briers catapulted fintech from a remittance upstart to a publicly traded fintech giant with a user base running into the millions.

Briers is the second CFO of a prominent UK fintech to announce retirement this year. In May, Revolut CFO Mikko Salovaara announced that he would be leaving the company after two years in the top finance seat, citing “personal reasons”. Salovaara’s exit followed news that James Radford, chief executive of Revolut NewCo UK, the entity designed to hold the neobank’s UK banking licence, left the company in April.

Analysts at Jefferies believe the upheaval at Wise could be positive in the medium term for Wise shares, which have underperformed the broader payments and fintech space recently, CNBC reported.

They speculate that Sinha may permanently become Wise’s CEO, while Käärmann becomes general manager.

The move “would allow Käärmann to focus on a broader role to run the business, while leaving Sinha, who gained experience at PayPal and eBay, to the day-to-day execution,” the analysts said, according to the outlet.

Wise hinted at no such plans, the publication pointed out.

Meanwhile, Käärmann is preparing for his sabbatical, leaving the reins in the hands of Sinha and other top executives at Wise.

“We will be working as closely as ever in the coming months to prepare for a smooth transition into my sabbatical,” he said in his blog post.

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“We’ve come a long way, but I also know that we’re going to get a lot bigger and faster over the next few years, so this is a good time to take that break and recharge for the next stage of this rocket,” he added. to.

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