Goldman Sachs is trying to build the ultimate financial destination for the masses

  • For most of its nearly 150-year history, Goldman Sachs has catered to the ultra wealthy.
  • But the bank has been rapidly expanding services for Main Street consumers in the past two years under its Marcus brand.
  • On Wednesday, the bank was reported to be in talks to acquire Clarity Money, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help you cancel unwanted subscriptions, stay under budget, and keep on top of your investments.
  • It's also reportedly in talks to provide financing for Apple iPhones, one of the most ubiquitous consumer tech products on the planet. 
  • These are the latest signs that Goldman Sachs is building the ultimate financial destination for retail consumers.


For much of its existence, Goldman Sachs has catered to the ultra wealthy. 

Individuals looking to saddle up with the prestigious bank needed to fork over a minimum investment of $10 million for wealth management services. The typical client had more than $50 million in investable assets.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein:

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Goldman Sachs Chief Executive and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein shakes hands with other business leaders as they meet U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein participates in a panel discussion during the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington June 23, 2014. President Barack Obama, as part of efforts to make the U.S. workplace more accommodating for employees with families, will on Monday direct federal agencies to step up efforts to give workers more leeway in determining their schedules. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 25, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener (SWITZERLAND - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., takes part in a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York September 25, 2013. The CGI was created by Bill Clinton in 2005 to gather global leaders to discuss solutions to the world's problems. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., reacts during a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 17 - 20. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., gestures while speaking during a panel session at the 10,000 Small Businesses (1OKSB) Partnership Event at their offices in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. The 'pendulum happily has swung by' the era when people criticized Goldman Sachs executives taking positions in public service, Blankfein said at the event. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during the New York Times DealBook conference in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. The event brings together CEOs, leading figures in finance, and experts from diverse industries to assess the challenges and opportunities that will define the deal world of tomorrow. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DANA POINT, CA - OCTOBER 18: Lloyd Blankfein speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2016 at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel on October 18, 2016 in Dana Point, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Fortune)
Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks at the inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women/US State Department Entrepreneurship Program for women in the Middle East and Northern Africa on March 9, 2015 at the State Department in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein at the inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women/US State Department Entrepreneurship Program for women in the Middle East and Northern Africa on March 9, 2015 at the State Department in Washington, DC. . AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 09: Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein (L) stands behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the graduation ceremony for small business owners from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program held at the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College on February 9, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program helps owners in the Greater Miami area by providing them with greater access to business education, financial capital and business support services. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SQUAWK BOX -- Pictured: Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, on January 7, 2015 -- (Photo by: Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during a panel discussion at a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses event in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Panelists discussed the future of Detroit, the economy and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The CAP event was titled 'Getting to Results by Investing for Impact.' Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., listens to a question during a news conference after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. The meeting, set up by the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based trade group representing CEOs for the largest Wall Street banks, marks an effort by the Obama administration to leverage the business community in the continuing debates over how to fund the government and increase the debt- limit. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during an interview hosted by Politico in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Blankfein said debate about when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates may help avoid 'a jarring surprise' to markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., listens during an interview hosted by Politico in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Blankfein said debate about when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates may help avoid 'a jarring surprise' to markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., smiles before speak during the LaGuardia Community College 2013 commencement at the Jacob K. Javits center in New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 6, 2013. Blankfein told the graduating class that associating with ambitious people is one key to success in life. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during an interview hosted by Politico in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Blankfein said debate about when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates may help avoid 'a jarring surprise' to markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during an interview at the Investment Company Institute (ICI) general membership meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Blankfein warned that the interest-rate environment has parallels to 1994, when a sudden and sharp increase in rates caught many investors off-guard. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., waits to start a television interview following a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. U.S. Obama urged Congress to postpone automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin March 1 to avoid 'real and lasting impacts' on U.S. economic growth. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Blankfein discussed the role of technology in innovation across different industries, the impact of the financial crisis on investment banking, and his plans to remain at with the company. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., arrives to the White House to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. U.S. Obama urged Congress to postpone automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin March 1 to avoid 'real and lasting impacts' on U.S. economic growth. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group waits before a meeting with French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici at the French economy ministry in Paris on November 20, 2012. AFP PHOTO ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks at the Canadian Club of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Blankfein said he would invest in real estate as central banks around the world focus on avoiding deflation. Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., left, speaks with David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group LP, during a luncheon with the Economic Club of Washington in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, plans to cut $500 million of expenses this year, mostly from compensation, after reporting the lowest first-half revenue and earnings since 2005. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, listens to his introduction before speaking at the Economic Club of Washington luncheon, on July 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. Mr. Blankfein spoke about global economic issues and the state of job creation in the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., listens during the Robin Hood Veterans Summit in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2012. The one-day summit discusses transitioning the country's armed forces personnel back to civilian life. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., right, talks to Greg Brown, president and chief executive officer of Motorola Solutions Inc., left, at the U.S.-China Business Roundtable at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. President Barack Obama told Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping that China's growing economic power brings with it responsibility to work toward 'balanced' trade and to recognize the aspirations of all people for greater rights. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 04: Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Lloyd Blankfein attends the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate investigative committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 27, 2010. Goldman Sachs denied reaping vast profits from the collapse of the US housing market as its top executive and a star trader faced hostile questions in Congress over the 2008 financial meltdown. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., chats with other attendees prior to a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama speech about financial reform at Cooper Union in New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 22, 2010. Obama called on the financial industry to drop it's 'furious efforts' to fight his regulation plan, saying a failure to impose tougher rules on the market will put the U.S. economic system at risk. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images *** Local Cation *** Lloyd C. Blankfein
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 16: Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sach's during Fortune's Andy Serwer interview of Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein at Bobby Van's Grill on October 16, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Magazine)
Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, participates in a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 23, 2009. About 1,200 participants including heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities will attend the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which started on Tuesday. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS)
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The company, which had long managed employees' investments below that amount, caused a small brouhaha several years back when it decided to offload employee investment accounts with less than $1 million to Fidelity. 

So what's a bank like this doing trying to acquire a fintech startup that's selling point is helping customers more seamlessly and strategically lower cable bills, cancel magazine subscriptions, and wind-down unused gym memberships?

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These are concerns traditionally relegated to the masses. Costs that amount to rounding errors in the monthly budgets of Goldman's jetsetting, Hamptons-dwelling multimillionaires. 

Nonetheless, Goldman is in talks to acquire Clarity Money, according to Bloomberg, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help you cancel unwanted subscriptions, stay under budget, and keep on top of your investments.

It was also reported Wednesday that Goldman Sachs may start providing financing for Apple's iPhones, according to The Wall Street Journal, one of the most recognizable and ubiquitous consumer tech products on the planet.

On its face, these moves seem positively un-Goldman-like. But they fit in with the investment bank's burgeoning plans to provide a one-stop-shop, ultimate financial destination for the masses. 

It's a radical departure, to be sure, but imagine an online platform where you not only monitor your savings accounts and investments, but where you can also take out loans or pay them off. You can see all your bills and expenses, and with one click you can finally cut the cord with Comcast. 

Instead of having log-ins across the Internet for every sensitive account attached to your wallet, you have a single portal to handle everything. One log-in and one password to rule them all. 

It would be a boon for savvy, digital-minded consumers — and a potentially massive new source of revenue for the investment bank.

The vision is still nascent, but Goldman Sachs is poised to take a serious swipe at retail banking without ever building a physical bank branch — without the tellers and brick-and-mortar branches that suck up costs for the Bank of Americas, Citigroups, JPMorgan Chases of the world.

Goldman's recent foray into retail banking is quickly expanding

The firm's foray into retail banking is a couple years underway, but quickly ramping up.

It started in earnest with the acquisition, amid investor pressure for low rates of return and a demand for new revenue streams, of $16 billion in online deposits from over 140,000 retail customers from GE Capital Bank in early 2016.

Weeks later GS Bank was launched, a decidedly consumer-friendly online savings platform. Entering the Goldman Sachs fold required no minimum deposit and, thanks to the absence of physical bank infrastructure, interest rates far exceeded those of traditional US retail bank giants. 

Later in 2016 Goldman Sachs jumped headlong into another retail business: online personal loans, a space that had been disrupted by a cavalcade of buzzy fintech startups like Lending Club, SoFi, and Prosper. 

Dubbed Marcus, in an homage to company founder Marcus Goldman, the platform offered up to $40,000 in multi-year loans to borrowers with good FICO scores, with no fees and competitive annual interest rates.

Backed by the might and resources of the nearly 150-year-old investment bank, Marcus quickly began to eclipse the smaller startups, reaching $1 billion in loan originations in just eight months — faster than any of its competitors.

It has continued to soar. The bank estimated $2 billion in loans by the end of 2017; it's now up to $2.4 billion

The average loan size is $15,000 and the average APR is 12%, well below the typical credit card interest rate offered by retail bank competitors. 

If Marcus can start grabbing a slice of the credit card business, it could become incredibly lucrative and disruptive. 

The bank has previously said that it sees a $1 billion revenue opportunity in the Marcus loan and deposit platform

CFO Marty Chavez, in the fourth-quarter earnings call, said Marcus was a "huge and important and exciting area of growth for us and one of the pillars of our growth plan."

A credible threat as the retail bank of the future

GS Bank has since been rolled into the Marcus brand, which appears to be epicenter of Goldman's budding financial network for the general public.

While the savings deposits and online lending services are the most high-profile offerings right now, Goldman Sachs is also reportedly working on a robo-advisor service — another product geared toward the general public that has soared in popularity with the rise of fintech startups Wealthfront and Betterment. 

These offerings and the ones that might be in the pipeline — the capabilities of Clarity Money and lending services for big-ticket consumer products like iPhones — could all be held on a Marcus mobile app for the masses that Goldman Sachs has been building.

Throw it all together, and Goldman has on its hands a financial destination for Main Street.

The bank doesn't offer the traditional checking and cash withdrawal services, a glaring omission by retail banking standards, but with a large chunk of society moving in a cashless direction and adopting peer-to-peer payment methods like Venmo and Zelle, that may not prove to be a hang-up for many customers. 

It's very early yet, but the combination of services, and the fact that consumers are increasingly migrating toward digital for financial needs, means that Goldman Sachs — the tony investment bank for multimillionaires — could poise a credible threat as the retail bank of the future. 

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