Atom Bank - Thriving on Uncertainty in the post-digital world

Neil Costello - Head of Marketing at Atom Bank

Neil Costello - Head of Marketing at Atom Bank

Thriving on uncertainty, that’s how Neil Costello, Head of Marketing at Atom Bank, describes the culture at the banking start up.

It’s a culture where people are less interested in knowing what you’ve done before.  Instead they are more interested in knowing how you go about things, how you can find a new way to tackle traditional challenges and at pace.  In fact, Atom Bank is bringing to life a number of paradigm shifts required for the post-digital age.

Neil Costello held various Head of Marketing roles at Aviva and now heads up Marketing at Atom Bank. He’s been awarded Marketing Academy's inaugural scholarship & embarked on life changing leadership development programme for the 20 fastest rising UK marketing leaders, client & agency-side. Nominated 2015 Financial Services Marketer of the Year.

From looking inwards, to being led by customer value

Change can make you defensive, and look inwards.  Atom Bank creates a culture, where the focus is shifted away from the inward focus of managing stakeholders, and is instead focused outwards, on customer objectives.   People are constantly looking to understand how they can create value for the customer, and do this with a clear understanding of their responsibility, and that of others in the team.

Permission to fail

People are recruited on their passion and enthusiasm to learn.  They feel they have the permission to fail, a culture that is led and permeated from the top.  And it has led to cutting edge content, that reduces reliance on agencies.  Atom Bank creates diverse teams too, which fosters creativity and innovation across the business.

Valuing people for their value

Atom Bank doesn’t set traditional measure of success.  Instead people are rewarded on other variables, in an adult way, looking at the value that has been delivered to the customer and the business.  They’re rewarded too with a focus on them as a whole person. One such example is Atom’s “All about You” fund gives every team member £200 to spend on their own development, to build life skills beyond banking.

Post-digital mindset

Digital job titles have disappeared, and with it the traditional mindsets that sustained the status quo.  Leaders who take comfort in the scale of their teams, most of whom add little value, have no place in Atom Bank.  Individuals are not recruited on traditional, narrow skillsets, such as copywriting or understanding of regulatory and compliance requirements.  Now it is about the capability to engage across various offline and online channels, in a post-digital world.

Lessons in change

Change is a constant.  Neil has some clear and uncompromising lessons about change that he has learned through his career.  Change within a business does have to come from the top down.  If change does not align with the company strategy and direction, then it will fall flat.

Culture change has to permeate from the very top – but also it’s not about having a one size fits all culture.  

A culture for growth - being what you are

Neil believes that the most significant paradigm shift is in moving from saying what you are to being what you are.  This has major consequences on who is hired, and how they work. The most effective positioning for the business is on its honesty and transparency about who you are, and how this delivers value to the customer.

Moshe Braun