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Why We’re Building a Better Bank

December 17, 2020

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I had been in banking for 25 years before becoming Chief Risk Officer at Varo, so I can tell you from personal experience that Varo is different from other banks. 

At Varo, we have a lot of bankers who wanted to find a new way of banking and a lot of tech people who decide banking could be an exciting challenge. 

We’re all doing something new to us and new to most people living in the United States.

So why are we doing it? 

Let me speak for the reformed bankers.

Until now, many people living in America haven’t had fair access to financial products. They may not have been able to open even a basic checking account.

This may be because they have low FICO scores or they’ve experienced financial stress. Unfortunately, the legacy banks have such a high expense level that they can’t provide for these Americans. 

So millions of people get left out of the system.

At Varo, we want to open the door and welcome everyone. 

Hello, we’re happy to have you.

That’s the why for all of us. 

How I knew Varo was what I was looking for came down to three things.

The first was the mission—to build a fair financial system for everyone. I was searching for a company that had a mission that truly aligned with my personal values and my desire to be part of something that would change things for good.

 Many banks and FinTech companies have sound missions, but when you dig really deep you find the most important thing for the company is returning shareholder value.

When you dig really deep at Varo, you find the mission tucked in the bedrock, right at its heart.

The second reason I came to Varo—frankly, I was tired of being the only woman in the room.

In traditional banking, there’s very little diversity. 

Diversity is important for innovation, and I wanted to work at a place that was built for the workforce of the future, not just financial gain for the present.

In traditional banking, I couldn’t find the diversity I knew the industry needed, so I had to go outside the traditional industry to find it.

The last reason I came to Varo was to work at a firm filled with people with growth mindsets, people who are skilled but always learning.

The reason we’re able to do what we do is the innovative mindset and the technology that we use to execute on that innovation. 

Our tech stack is modern and our data is clean. This allows us to explore how best to serve our customers and streamline our processes so we can offer low or no fee products.

As a chartered bank, it’s our duty to follow regulations that protect the customer and the economy and we have built out a risk team that embraces the growth mindset.

That’s something you’ll be hard pressed to find at a legacy institution.

The risk team are partners to the product teams, the tech teams, and the operations team. Together we are all leaning in to innovation and imagining and building the bank of the future. 

It takes a certain type of banker to leave banking. A type of banker that wants to do something new that hasn’t been done before. 

I’m proud to be part of that growing team, as one of the reformed bankers still learning how to do something new that will make things a little better.


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Philippa Girling

Philippa Girling

Philippa Girling is Chief Risk Officer at Varo. Her team ensures that as the company builds its innovative banking platform that all Varo customers' money stays safe.

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