Goldman Sachs shares a lesson it's learned about Main Street

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AUSTIN, Tex. — Goldman Sachs is finding there isn’t a specific type of customer using its digital-only bank Marcus, which features personal loans meant to refinance credit card debt at a lower interest rate, as well as high-yield savings accounts.

Marcus’ customers come from all walks of life and share a primary goal to reduce debt, according to Boe Hartman, the chief information officer of Goldman Sachs Bank.

“What’s really fascinating from what we learned when we were building Marcus in the early days is that everybody struggles with financial matters,” Hartman told an audience here at American Banker’s Digital Banking conference.

When Goldman launched Marcus in 2016, the product featured only personal loans. The brand was later integrated into Goldman’s retail deposit product.

As for how Hartman and Goldman positioned Marcus, he referenced a 2016 article from The Atlantic that highlighted the financial struggles of middle-class Americans. The piece was written by someone who couldn’t pay for his daughter’s wedding and had high credit card bills, all while he was making a six-figure salary. He couldn’t understand how he got to that point.

Hartman said the story struck a chord with him and with Harit Talwar, the head of Marcus.

“That completely impacted the way we were thinking about engaging with and providing a product to the market,” Hartman said.

Hartman said that initially, Marcus wasn’t thinking about a consumer’s complete financial picture, but rather the technology aspect of the platform.

“What we actually discovered was, how do we go about helping people with their debt,” he said. “I think that differentiated us in the early days when we were building this was that people are embarrassed to talk about their finances.”

Hartman said during a fireside chat that Marcus has enrolled more than 4 million customers, with $40 billion in deposits in the U.S. and the U.K.

Marcus in the U.S. also has originated over $6 billion in loans.

Hartman said Marcus is showing promise in the U.K., where one in five savings accounts opened in the last six months bore the brand, which was rolled out in September.

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