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Who is Gary Hoffman? From Northern Rock CEO to Monzo chairman

The former Northern Rock and Barclaycard CEO will take over from Baroness Kingsmill as chairman of Monzo at the start of next month as the fintech company looks to continue its growth

Challenger bank Monzo has announced Gary Hoffman as its new chairman of the board of directors.

Mr Hoffman has 37 years’ experience in the banking sector and Monzo hopes his appointment can help to strengthen its leadership team.

He replaces interim chairman Tim Brooke, who has held the position since 2015, while Labour peer Baroness Kingsmill resigned from her position on the board of directors in April 2018.

Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield highlighted Mr Hoffman’s vast experience in banking and insurance as the reason for bringing him to the company.

Here, we look at his career, which has included stints at Barclays, Northern Rock and Coventry Building Society – as well as a boardroom role at Coventry City FC.

Tom Blomfield, Monzo co-founder and CEO (Credit: Monzo)

 

Who is Gary Hoffman? Starting banking life at Barclays

Mr Hoffman began his career as a trainee at Barclays in 1982 after graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in economics.

He was present for the introduction of Barclays’ telephone banking service and its online banking service, which launched in 1997 and was the first in the UK.

In 2001, he was promoted to CEO of Barclaycard – the bank’s international credit card payment services.

He later became vice-president of the company after losing out to John Varley for the role of chief executive of Barclays in 2003.

 

Gary Hoffman’s role at Northern Rock

Mr Hoffman joined Northern Rock in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis and is credited with steering the bank through a government bailout and the subsequent break-up of the retail bank.

When taking on the role, Mr Hoffman was tasked with overseeing 2,000 redundancies and he ensured the £26bn government loan was repaid to the Bank of England ahead of schedule.

As one of the biggest mortgage lenders in the country, he was also responsible for halving Northern Rock’s £100bn mortgage book.

Northern Rock
Customers queued outside Northern Rock to withdraw money after the bank failed in 2007 (Wikipedia Commons/Dominic Alves)

Mr Hoffman returned his “golden goodbye”, which was estimated to total £500,000 in salary and bonuses, when quitting the beleaguered bank to join NBNK Investments in 2011.

Speaking on his role at Northern Rock – which rebranded to Virgin Money after being bought by Virgin Group in 2012 – and the role of bankers in the financial crisis, Mr  Hoffman told the Telegraph in 2011: “My two-and-half-years at Northern Rock felt like 25.

“The team there did a great job, given where it was.

“I had no aspirations to go and be chief executive somewhere else but this [CEO of NBNK] is a once-in-a-lifetime banking opportunity to go and do something different.

“We’ve all got a bit of humility about what’s gone on in banking over the past few years and we want to put it right.”

 

First taste of challenger banks at NBNK – and Coventry Building Society top role

Monzo isn’t the first challenger bank Mr Hoffman has worked at, having been CEO of NBNK Investments for a short period of time.

NBNK had the ambition of becoming a new UK retail bank through the acquisition of assets from other banking groups.

But despite initial approval from the regulator, NBNK went into voluntary liquidation in June 2016 after failed bids to buy Northern Rock and Lloyds Banking Group branches.

Mr Hoffman was only there from 2011 to 2012, before going on to work at motor insurance broker Hastings as CEO for six years, leaving in February last year.

In April 2018, Mr Hoffman was hired as non-executive director and chairman of Coventry Building Society – a position which he still currently holds.

 

Gary Hoffman’s involvement at Coventry City FC

The lifelong Coventry City FC fan has previously acted as vice-chairman of the club.

During his six months of leave following the closure of Northern Rock, Mr Hoffman is reported as saying he planned to spend the time watching Coventry matches.

According to reports on Coventry Live, he has been linked with leading a potential consortium of local businesses to take over the club in recent months.

Mr Hoffman, who has tabled several bids for the League 1 club, told The Independent last weekend: “We are not in it to try and make money.

“We have a plan to get the club back to the Championship. I am not going to publicly criticise SISU [the current owners] but of course we should not be where we are.”

 

Gary Hoffman joins Monzo

Mr Hoffman alluded to his role at NBNK after being confirmed as the new Monzo chairman today (9 January).

He said: “I have watched the development of the challenger bank landscape carefully.

“Monzo’s proposition and potential is incredibly impressive and I am delighted to be taking on the role of chair to help Tom and his team in the next stages of their exciting journey”

Monzo co-founder and CEO Tom Blomfield added: “I’m excited to bring Gary onto the Monzo board as we look forward to 2019 and beyond.

“Gary’s experience in banking and insurance will be a huge support as Monzo really starts to go mainstream.

Monzo
Monzo

“I’d also like to thank Baroness Denise Kingsmill for her time as chair, and Tim Brooke, who stepped in as interim chair in 2018, for his hard work and ongoing support.”

He will join the bank as chairman on 1 February, subject to regulatory approvals.