Welcome Marcus to the rebranded Goldman asset mgt division and to the UK

I can’t believe that it is already 2 years from the launch of Marcus from Goldman. I wrote about it Nov 2016 in Will Goldman become a verb? Watch the Marcus ads!

  • The consumer pays a fixed interest rate on the loan (which includes a profit margin for Goldman). It has no complexities (APRs and all the usual hidden in a credit-card type of arrangement).
  • It is simple and clear. No fees for late payments.
  • It is transparent and simple! No credit-score changes! There is nothing hidden, no optionality (hiding misunderstanding and potentially Goldman outsmarting the user).

My right hand, Gaston Greindl, briefed me last week on Marcus. Goldman has decided to add a dedicated loan specialists workforce who deliver live, personalised support to client, which goes well beyond the flexibility already offered on the platform to choose payment dates and payment options to fit their payroll schedule.

During the first year of Marcus – by the end of 2017 – Marcus had more than $2.3 billion in loans ranging from 12 months to 4 years.

The deposit part of the business – Online Savings Accounts for retail – is FDIC insured, no-fee again, and offering rates higher than the national average. During the first year of Marcus – by the end of 2017 – Marcus had more than $17 billion in deposits.

After extensive research and surveying, Goldman found that customers preferred to speak with human advisers for their borrowing and savings inquiries. So, all of Marcus calls are answered by loan or deposit specialists, improving the customer experience.

What caught my attention this time around, was the Barron’s article about Goldman Sachs moving Marcus into its asset management unit, which will be renamed the consumer and investment management division. Previously, Marcus had been part of Goldman’s investing and lending division.

I always talk about Fintech towards serving your existing customers in ways not possible before. Goldman has been fearless in experimenting with new business models in serving customers and in acquiring new customers. Over the past decade, Goldman has been an investment bank that wasn’t shy to get a banking license after the subprime crisis; has opened its proprietary IP to its Buy side clients (read more in my contributing chapter in the WealthTech Book ); and has acquired 37 Fintechs already making it the No.1 bank in Fintech investments (as of end of 2017)

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Marcus was born in a neighbourhood catering to the basic consumer banking retail needs. Goldman now feels that it can and should be integrated in the next generation wealth offering of Goldman in the US. No fees, human advisors, flexibility even for the very basics: online savings and personal loans. This makes sense as product lines are blurring. Clients don’t want to have shop for their financial needs in 5 different places. Integration is the name of the game. Goldman is moving gracefully in that direction.

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While Marcus is being integrating in the US in the wealth offering, at the same time Goldman is launching Marcus retail in the UK. It started just a month ago and up 50,000 customers signed up in less than two weeks. UK residents can deposit from £1 to £250,000 – and withdraw their money as many times as they like, with no fees or charges. Fully digital onboarding plus customer service with a specialist available. Now this can’t be great news neither for the challenger banks nor for the high-street banks. Marcus has a brand name and offers an interest rate of 1.5% (for the first year), which is well above the UK average of 0.6%. The Marcus account rate drops to 1.35% the 2nd year. The closest easy access savings rate is currently 1.41%, offered by Yorkshire Building Society.

Expansion in Germany was also announced in May but there is nothing talked about since.

Marcus in the US has built a loan book that is not even 5% of the $72billion loan book of Goldman. It’s value is not the amount of loans or their margin. It is the new retail customers and moreso it is the learnings that Marcus is offering Goldman Sachs’ so that they can enhance their wealth offerings with consumer best banking services (deposits and loans) which means below cost and with human specialist customer service.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

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