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Building the Marcus brand: Goldman’s 2021 vision for its consumer banking product

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Goldman’s consumer banking product suite, reached $96 billion in deposits in the third quarter of 2020.
  • Goldman will grow the Marcus product suite in 2021, encompassing checking, wealth management, savings and personal finance management.
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Building the Marcus brand: Goldman’s 2021 vision for its consumer banking product

The acceleration of digital banking that took hold during the pandemic allowed for continued adoption of Goldman Sachs’s consumer banking product suite.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs, which launched four years ago, had $96 billion in deposits as of the third quarter of 2020. With personal loans, savings accounts, and Marcus Insights, its personal finance analysis tool, Goldman is building a comprehensive product suite. The bank has fully integrated the capabilities of the Clarity Money app, which it acquired in 2018. 

“The long-term objective of what we’re setting ourselves to do in consumer is to create a complete business that has a very robust platform on which millions of consumers will be able to control their financial destiny either through their own balance sheet or cash flow,” said Stephen Scherr, chief financial officer at Goldman Sachs, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Future of Financials Conference this month. “Our ambition is to grow out the product set that’s there, including in 2021, seeing checking and a wealth module to again grow out that platform in a more profound way.”

On today’s podcast, we speak with Melissa Manne, who is vice president and head of product at Marcus Digital Storefront. She was previously vice president of product management at Clarity Money and director of software product management at American Express. Manne reflects on her journey from Clarity Money to Marcus by Goldman Sachs and the next steps for Marcus.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The road to Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Most of my career has been in personal finance. I worked at American Express for about a decade, building products and features for their consumer and small business division. And from there, I joined the Clarity Money team. I was really inspired by the vision of building out a personal financial management tool that would help empower customers to take control of their financial lives and be champions of their money. In 2018, I came over and joined the Marcus product team, which has been a terrific opportunity. It’s been great to scale and work both on the Clarity Money side, as well as on the Marcus site and app.

The Marcus product strategy

We have a big opportunity at Marcus to really demonstrate to the world what a modern consumer bank is. We are working on products that will support how people spend, how they borrow, how they plan and how they invest. The common thread through all of those is we want to do it in a way that’s really transparent, where customers know exactly what they’re getting and what they’re paying for, without hidden fees or costs. We think there’s a big opportunity to do it in a way that’s simple, that’s engaging and that’s intuitive.

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Incorporating lessons from the Clarity Money app

A lot of us who came from Clarity Money are on the same team that built out Marcus Insights and the Marcus app. There was so much that we were able to leverage to really give us momentum as we were building out Insights. 

Clarity Money had millions of customers, and so we have a ton of learnings and feedback from those customers in terms of analytics, which features they used the most and how they engaged with the app. We were really able to use all of that to inform the next kind of iteration of [the Marcus] toolset. From a technology perspective, we also really benefited from having that foundation. One specific example is something that we feel is really important to bringing this experience to life — getting that [spending] categorization right. That’s something we spent a lot of time and effort on in Clarity Money, analyzing the billions of transactions that came through from our customers. 

The Marcus Insights approach to personal finance

We know that personal finances can be hard, and people sometimes don’t engage with them as much as they feel like they should. We’ve also rolled out our feature set with an eye on making the experience simple [and] engaging, using simple visualizations, to really bring Insights to life that empower customers.

Some of our features include the ability to link accounts and aggregate them to see them all in one place, which provides a view of spend across all of your accounts, broken out by about 20 different spend categories like home shopping, dining, and drinks, etc. We have a snapshot feature that allows [customers] to see relative to the amount of income they’ve taken home, how much they’ve spent, how much they’ve saved, how much they’ve invested and then how much is left over. We show them how much they’ve spent in a certain time period at some of their most frequented merchants. How much [customers] spend at those habit-driven places can sometimes help to raise awareness and help them make decisions to support their longer-term financial goals.

How Marcus dealt with the COVID-19 crisis

Marcus really prides itself on taking care of its customers. From a customer perspective, the first thing that we thought of was how can we support people who are going through a really tough time. We were one of the first companies to announce a customer assistance program, where our customers could defer a loan payment for a month; not accrue any interest charged during that deferral; and the loan term was actually extended by a month. Similarly, on the deposit side, we waived the early withdrawal penalty for customers who needed access to their funding sooner than expected.

On the people side, there were tons of people moving mountains to make sure that everybody could safely pivot to remote work. It was really amazing to see how, within 72 hours, almost our entire customer support team was able to work remotely, as well as all of us who were building products and features.

The competition

What we often hear is actually the biggest competitor isn’t a specific brand, but it’s actually just inertia. People tend to have financial accounts with the same institution for years and years, if not decades, and it’s just really hard to make a switch, even if you know that you could be potentially optimizing your money somewhere else. 

2021 priorities

We’ve already built lending, savings and card capabilities. Right now, we’re focusing on building checking and investing products for launch in 2021. We’re really excited to expand the feature set in a way that can build off of some of the things that are core to Marcus, built on a trusted legacy of 150 years of customer experience.

We’re making sure that we’re transparent, that we’re simple, [and] that people can intuitively find what they need.

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