When Goldman Sachs rolled out its somewhat uncharacteristic yet potentially savvy retail deposit-banking arm, the bank dubbed it Marcus. As everyone by now knows, that's the Christian name of the eponymous Goldman, who started trading paper on Pine Street in 1869. Though the name does sound hip and all, it might have struck some as curious that in choosing between the two founders's names for a techy in-house startup, they chose the elder Marcus over his younger and presumably much more with-it son-in-law Samuel Sachs.
Now that choice is starting to seem more and more appropriate. What began as a surprisingly graceful (if conventionally boring) entree into the fintech fold is increasingly looking like a strained attempt at trendy cool from an eminence old and dignified enough to know better.
To wit, see this week's interview of Goldman Chief Strategy Officer Stephen Scherr in Reuters, in which we learn that the bank is gearing up for a big ad blitz to promote its retail banking arm later this year (because, evidently, simply launching the campaign isn't sufficient):
"It carries ... great strategic potential," he said. "The ambition we have is for the retail deposit platform to grow so that it becomes a real, sizable channel."
It's great to know that the ambition is there, but admitting that Marcus is neither “real” nor “sizable” as yet seems like a bit of a self-inflicted wound. Anyway, here are the numbers:
A little over a year ago, the Wall Street bank acquired $16 billion worth of online deposits from General Electric Co (GE.N), about half of which came from individuals. Goldman has since increased those deposits by $4 billion, or 50 percent, and wants to grow more, Scherr said.
There's an odd parallelism in the fact that the paragon of financial elitism is groveling to the masses at the same time that a bevy of its high-ranking alumni are leading the presidential administration that raw populism built. Is there some audience out there of MAGA-hat-wearing Trump diehards who, having seen mention of Gary Cohn et al in connection to Trump, might view a Marcus ad and feel a jolt of loyalty that inspires them to deposit at Goldman? Because we'd pay good money to see, during the commercial break of some tawdry weekday reality show, a genuinely red-meat, beer-and-pickups-heavy TV spot bearing the stamp Goldman Sachs.