Wise, a U.K.-based money transfer fintech, announced Monday that its chief financial officer Matt Briers would step down next year, while its CEO Kristo Käärmann will go on paternity leave in September, CNBC reported.
Käärmann, who co-founded Wise along with Taavet Hinrikus in 2011, will go on sabbatical between September and December to spend time with his family, the company said.
Briers will retire in March 2024 after Käärmann returns to work from his break, the outlet noted. He has been a CFO for nearly eight years and returned to office in May last year after a cycling accident in February 2022. He wants to take time to recover fully from the accident.
“After almost 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 have achieved in these early chapters at Wise and could not be more excited about what is ahead for the business. Wise is growing fast, with a massive opportunity in front of us, and we’ve bucked the trend by working out how to do this profitably,” he added.
Wise’s chief technology officer Harsh Sinha will step up to take up the role of an interim CEO, Käärmann said in a blog post. Before joining in 2015, Sinha worked at companies like PayPal and eBay and brought his product-building and operation support experience to Wise, he noted.
“A comprehensive search for a new CFO will commence immediately,” Wise said in an update to its investors on Monday, the publication said.
When Briers was involved in a cycling accident in February last year, the fintech appointed an interim CFO in Briers’ place during his recovery process at home, the outlet highlighted.
Wise “will likely have many CFOs in its 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 outlet.
During his tenure as the CFO, the wire service noted that Briers catapulted the fintech from a money transfer upstart to a publicly-listed financial technology giant with a user base running in millions.
Briers is the second CFO of a prominent U.K. fintech to announce retirement this year. In May, Mikko Salovaara, CFO of Revolut, announced that he would depart the company after two years in the top financial seat, citing “personal reasons.” Salovaara’s exit followed the news of James Radford, the CEO of Revolut NewCo UK, the entity designed to hold the neobank’s U.K. banking license, leaving the company in April.
Analysts at Jefferies think the shakeup at Wise could have a positive mid-term development for Wise shares, which have underperformed the broader payments and fintech space lately, CNBC reported.
They speculate that Sinha might permanently become Wise’s CEO, while Käärmann becomes the executive chairman.
This move “would allow Käärmann to focus on a broader role to drive the business, while leaving Sinha, who gained experience at PayPal and eBay, to the daily execution,” the analysts said, according to the outlet.
Wise did not indicate any such plans, the publication pointed out.
Meanwhile, Käärmann is preparing for his sabbatical, leaving the reins in the hands of Sinha and other top leaders at Wise.
“We will work as closely as ever in the coming months to prepare for a smooth transition into my sabbatical,” he said in his blog post.
“We’ve come a long way, but I also know that we’re going to get much bigger and faster in the next few years, so this a good time to take that break and be charged up for the next stage on this rocket,” he added.