Robinhood Forges Ahead with Plans to Launch UK Branch as US Regulatory Landscape Bites

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Robinhood Forges Ahead with Plans to Launch UK Branch as US Regulatory Landscape Bites
Photo: Unsplash

Robinhood may soon be ready to launch a UK business as it recruits a CEO and publishes vacancies for other roles.

American financial services and trading firm Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ: HOOD) is seriously working on plans to launch in the United Kingdom. Robinhood has begun hiring for the UK arm and has appointed a CEO.

According to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Robinhood has now appointed former Barclays director Jordan Sinclair. The FCA approved Sinclair’s appointment on Tuesday, the 18th of July.

Sinclair’s LinkedIn page shows that the new CEO spent more than a year as the Managing director for Freetrade Europe, and also functioned in the international strategic initiatives capacity at Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC).

Robinhood has reportedly been trying its hands at the UK market for a few years now. In 2019, Robinhood decided to indefinitely postpone the launch, disappointing prospective UK customers who had joined a waitlist. At the time, a spokesperson said Robinhood was focusing its efforts on strengthening its US business.

However, Coinspeaker reported last Tuesday that Robinhood posted vacancies on LinkedIn in preparation for the new UK office. The trading platform posted a vacancy for a senior risk and compliance associate and a compliance officer, both based in London. In addition, there is a vacancy for an operations lead, expected to help with launching and scaling in the UK.

Robinhood Enters the UK as US Regulatory Clime Becomes Hostile

Robinhood has been facing regulatory problems in the US for a while now. In April, the company reached a $10.2 million settlement for “operational and technical failures” with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). The settlement came after the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) investigated complaints about outages, in collaboration with securities regulators from several states. Collaborators include regulators from California, New Jersey, Alabama, South Dakota, Delaware, Colorado, and Texas. The settlement concluded a two-year investigation that began in March 2020.

In February, Robinhood revealed it got into trouble with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Commission sent an investigative subpoena to Robinhood in December 2022 following crypto bankruptcies that happened throughout the year.

In August 2022, the New York District of Financial Services (NYDFS) fined Robinhood $30 million for not developing adequate measures to “maintain a culture of compliance”. In April 2021, the California Attorney General’s Office subpoenaed Robinhood, asking about the company’s coin listings, custody information, and general details about the trading platform. A month later, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined Robinhood $70 million for allegedly providing customers with false information.

Robinhood reportedly plans to lay off 7% of its staff as it tries to reduce running costs. Most of the affected staff were employed during the pandemic when Robinhood had heavy demand for crypto trading. Between 2020 and 2021, Robinhood’s staff count jumped 442% from 700 to about 3,800. Nonetheless, the company conducted two layoff rounds last year, firing 9% in April and 23% in August.

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