Expect the new chief executive at Goldman Sachs to continue the firm’s aggressive push into consumer banking, despite the recent arrival of several deep-pocketed competitors.
Goldman formally announced Tuesday that David Solomon — who is said to be a big supporter of Marcus, Goldman’s digital banking platform — will succeed Lloyd Blankfein as CEO.
A couple of hours later, the Wall Street giant signaled that it remains focused on rapidly expanding its current consumer offering into an international platform that is built for the age of mobile banking.
In recent months, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and PNC Financial Services Group have all laid out big plans in digital banking.
But Goldman executives believe they hold two key advantages. First, they do not operate an expensive branch network. And second, they are building Marcus from the ground up, rather than layering it on top of out-of-date technology.
“We know this is a competitive and complex commoditized business, and we know that we have to differentiate ourselves and earn our way into it,” Chief Financial Officer Marty Chavez said Tuesday during a conference call with analysts. “That’s what we’re doing.”
Goldman has originated more than $4 billion in consumer loans since the launch of Marcus less than two years ago. Since 2016, the platform has grown well beyond its initial focus of offering personal loans to consumers who want to refinance their credit card debt at a lower interest rate.
Marcus now offers home improvement loans, and the platform has been integrated with Goldman’s $23 billion retail deposit franchise. On the horizon are credit cards, wealth management products and, later this year, the addition of a U.K. deposit franchise.
Tying it all together will be Clarity Money, a personal financial management app that Goldman Sachs acquired in April.
Chavez said Tuesday that the mobile app will allow Goldman to provide a consistent look and feel for all of its consumer products. It also figures to enable to Goldman to spend less money on acquiring new customers, which has been a perennial problem in the online lending sphere.
“We saw it as a front door to all of the Marcus offerings,” Chavez said, “and we saw it as a way to lower acquisition costs.”
The biggest concern that skeptics have expressed about Goldman’s push into consumer lending is that the credit cycle appears to be long in the tooth, which could lead to a spike in bad loans relatively soon.
In an effort to address those worries, Chavez provided new details to investors Tuesday about how Goldman is managing risk. He said that the average credit score in the bank’s consumer loan portfolio is above 700, and that loans in the 630-660 range represent less than 5% of originations.
Chavez also said that the bank expects losses to be 4%-5% annually but has provisioned for a higher percentage of bad loans.