5 min read

Second Annual 11:FS Pulse Awards: Best Incumbent Strategy

11:FS Research Team

This award is given to the incumbent financial institution that is executing the best digitalisation strategy.

Winner: Goldman Sachs

The winner must have proved it’s rethinking how it serves customers by providing real-time, contextual services.

This year’s winner is Goldman Sachs which made a decision two years ago to enter the retail banking market. It knew it needed to make the most of consumers’ willingness to use financial products online but rather than launching a “digital-only” current account as many of its peers have done it came to market with a lending and saving platform called Marcus. The product is incredibly well thought out, offering highly attractive rates, a new brand powered by an aspirational one, and most importantly, seriously effective execution.

Goldman’s execution success is shown by Marcus’ scores in Pulse which are high across the board but particularly when it comes to usability and visual design where it achieved full marks in several areas. Across onboarding, viewing transactions, accessing statements, and adding and withdrawing money Marcus is intuitive and simple to use.

The next phase of Goldman’s retail strategy thoughtfully builds on Marcus’ success. It brought the product to the UK with few changes in 2018, and within two months had acquired 100,000 customers. Within three months it had accumulated £5 billion in customer deposits. Another of Goldman’s strategic moves has been to acquire Clarity Money, a digital money management service for mobile which also scores very highly in Pulse, particularly for its provision of analysis and insights.

For now, Clarity Money continues to operate as a stand-alone brand, but given Goldman’s end-game is to offer a platform that provides a tailored service to meet all a customer’s financial needs, it seems likely we will see deeper integration between Clarity and Marcus in the near future. It is also worth noting that Goldman co-led a £45 million round in British digital-investment platform Nutmeg in January 2019 and led a £14 million round in UK-based digital mortgage provider Trussle in May 2018. That suggests it’s well on its way to offering a multi-service platform, and that when it launches it will be available in multiple jurisdictions.

When Goldman Sachs does take its next steps in the retail space they will likely be executed with the same level of care and attention as the original Marcus product and will, therefore, move the bank further down the path towards offering truly digital services.

For more insight into Goldman Sachs’ retail banking strategy and its future plans for Marcus listen to our interview with Omer Ismail, Head of Marcus US.

Runner-up: BBVA

Under the stewardship of Francisco González, the Spanish bank BBVA has made huge strides towards digitalisation in recent years. Of note is its API marketplace, widely considered to be one of the most advanced in the world, and its Open Platform which was made available in the US for the first time in 2018.

Additionally, in 2018 BBVA was one of the first banks in continental Europe to offer both retail and business customers the ability to view accounts from multiple providers within their banking app. This service scored highly in Pulse, as did BBVA’s analytics and insights tools, particularly in the utility and visual design areas. Both are integral first steps to the delivery of real-time, contextual services and the quality of BBVA’s offerings indicate they will move further towards this goal through 2019.

You can see the journeys for yourself over at 11:FS Pulse.

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