Marcus by Goldman Sachs ('Marcus') bills itself as a 150-year-old start-up.
The paradox aptly captures key reasons for the digital business’ success — the brand, balance sheet, and risk management DNA of a well-established financial institution with the agility of a start-up unhampered by legacy infrastructure, business practices, and technology.
That combination, leaders believe, gives Marcus a distinct structural advantage, and the evidence suggests they’re right. In just 3 years, the business has grown to approximately US$55 billion in deposits and US$5 billion in loans1. Marcus is projected to cross US$1 billion in revenue next year. Further, the business — Goldman Sachs’ first-ever foray into consumer banking — believes it has an opportunity to disrupt the sector in the same way Amazon did to retail and Apple did to music.
There is more to Marcus’ success, however, than a melding of the old and new. Based on rigorous financial modeling and analysis, Goldman Sachs has invested over US$1 billion in Marcus’ development, knowing that it would be a long-term investment play with significant
potential for growth1.
Moreover, Harit Talwar explains, the business maintains a laser focus on customer-centricity, and has from the beginning. Since its origination, Marcus has spoken to over 100,000 consumers to understand their pain points and concerns around personal banking and finance. Ask any team involved with Marcus what they do and they’ll answer with a customer focus in mind: enabling customer onboarding, improving the customer servicing experience, or helping with the customer password journey.
Companies think that the future is all about data or AI or design. But the future of financial services is really about translating those into extreme customer centricity."
It’s not just talk. Engineering, design, data analytics and a culture of cross-functional collaboration, are important, but how they enable the customer journey is what matters. The future of consumer banking, Harit believes, is in truly making life easier for customers. That means delivering on a promise of value, ease, transparency in customer interactions — and then making that promise repeatable. These efforts appear to be paying off. Last March J.D. Power released its 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study. Marcus by Goldman Sachs was named number one in personal loan customer satisfaction2.
Linked directly with this focus on the customer experience is Marcus' dedication to clarity of purpose – who the customer is, what their concerns are, and a determination not just to say but to prove that customer problems and concerns matter. Marcus has authentically embraced customer centricity and not simply using it as branding spin, because it translates to competitive advantage and shareholder value. “Innovation works when you use technology to actually help customers,” Harit says. “The real secret sauce in fintech is when you use your technology, data and balance sheet capabilities to help customers empower themselves and meet their own needs. That is what innovation is all about.”3
Marcus, with its singular focus on customers, is proving a game-changer. Armed with technology, a strong balance sheet and a clear vision, this young digital start-up is swiftly becoming a powerhouse. In an era of disruption, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is paving a road of possibility for traditional banks.
Harit joined Goldman Sachs in 2015 as a Partner and is currently the Head of Global Consumer Business. He is also a member of the firmwide Client and Business Standards Committee and the America’s Diversity Committee.
1. As of the firm’s Q3 2019 quarterly earnings call
2. Marcus by Goldman Sachs received the highest score in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Personal Loan Satisfaction
Study of customers’ satisfaction with the personal loan experience. Visit J.D. Power
3. Quotation extracted and lightly adapted from video interview with Harit on YouTube