Christina Trampota

We talk a lot about what the future of digital banking holds, and often that discussion is focused on technological innovation. However, as our guest on this week’s Fintech Growth Talk discusses, there is no innovation without putting the customer at the center of everything.

As a Managing Director at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Abhinav Anand believes that digital technology for its own sake is not enough for banks to evolve their services and maintain relevancy. According to Anand, banks of the future will need to provide a single seamless online experience where customers can get service when, where, and how they want.

Started as a personal lending platform, today Marcus is considered a leader in the digital-first model for consumer banking, offering a variety of mobile banking services such as high-yield savings, CDs, and loans. It has also leveraged “banking as a service,” where their products are delivered as a partnership with other like-minded companies. Currently, Marcus has partnered with JetBlue, Walmart, and Amazon to offer digital banking services to their customers and Goldman Sachs works with Apple on Apple Card.

But regardless of whether they are providing banking services through partnerships or direct-to-consumer products, Marcus’ mission remains the same: Help people take control of their financial lives through simple, transparent, and customer-centric experiences. Anand highlights the Marcus Insights app, a free financial tracking tool that provides personalized insights into users’ finances.

Of course, during the current pandemic, some banks have been challenged to meet both customer needs while maintaining health and safety standards. Digital banking has surged, with approximately 35 percent of customers increasing their online banking usage. Anand believes their digital-first approach, though, has shielded them from the challenges most traditional banks have experiences and reinforced their business model.

Thanks to their model, Marcus has more flexibility in terms of how it works with customers, and it was among first banks to offers customers the ability to postpone loan payments and withdraw funds from CDs early without penalty during the pandemic. Anand believes that customers now have the expectation that their bank will put them first; they want their bank to be “always on,” providing assistance when they need it and how they want it—on their mobile phone.

This is the future of banking, says Anand, and providing it as a service goes beyond simply translating banking functions to digital. Consumers are tired of how traditional banks have operated; they’re tired of hidden fees, a general lack of transparency and limited banking hours. They want to interact with their bank on their time. What’s more, banks have to keep toe to toe with digital firms. Financial service firms need to keep pace with consumer demands and expectations for digital experiences.

That’s why Marcus starts with a fairly simple premise when evaluating potential partners. They look for opportunities with companies with shared ideals, namely customer centricity and a desire for transparent products. It’s essential to build around customer pain points, which can lead to either changing the banking experience entirely or building new products. To that end, Anand says Marcus’ business is built on several equal pillars:

  1. Customer centricity
  2. Technology
  3. Data
  4. Design thinking

While this approach is deeply rooted in digital technology, Anand believes that technology for technology’s sake is the wrong approach. Firms need to be clear why and where they’re investing in digital, and what their expectations for it are. Most importantly, they need to be built around the customer.

And that will, ultimately, create something that is timeless: Best in class service.

Abhinav Anand joined Goldman Sachs in 2015 as a managing director in the Consumer division. He has 16 years of experience across the Consumer sector including in risk management, product management and data analytics. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, he worked at Discover Financial Services for several years, most recently as chief model risk officer and head of operational risk. He is passionate about creating customer-centric digital products and experiences that are simple and transparent to use.  

Abhinav earned a Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, an MS in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Listen to our full interview with Abhinav Anand here: