Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s six-year foray into retail banking — the unit dubbed Marcus — is under renewed scrutiny at the Federal Reserve.
Fed officials have been looking into the Wall Street giant’s online banking platform for retail customers, according to people familiar with the matter. For at least several weeks, they have beset Goldman management with questions and follow-ups in a process that is still ongoing, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.
The review goes beyond the central bank’s regular corporate oversight and is distinct from its more frequent industry-wide reviews of business sectors of interest. Focusing on Marcus, the central bank takes stock of a relatively new and growing division within a company without much history with the general public.
While this doesn’t indicate any wrongdoing, it’s another puzzle as CEO David Solomon moves forward with his ambition to expand Goldman – a high finance merchant – into the consumer world: absorbing deposits, issuing credit cards and, at some point, offering checking accounts to the masses. The review puts even more pressure on bank executives to show their ownership of the business and tighten controls.
Representatives from Goldman Sachs and the Fed declined to comment.
The bank recently signaled that it is taking a more cautious approach to Marcus’ growth. Behind the scenes, Goldman Chairman John Waldron has taken on a bigger role overseeing the company in an effort to align spending and stem losses.
By mid-year, the bank’s own internal forecast estimated the company would post a record loss of more than $1.2 billion this year.
Cash burn has become all the more painful in recent months as Wall Street’s surge in pandemic-era trading wanes, making Marcus a hot topic among Goldman managers. Investment bankers and traders bracing for job cuts or lower bonuses are competing against a division that was once expected to break even in 2022 but has instead gobbled up more than $4 billion. million since its inception in 2016. This does not include Goldman’s acquisition of installment loan provider GreenSky Inc. in a deal originally valued at more than $2.2 billion last year at which turned out to be the top of the market for fintech companies.
As businesses such as investment banking, capital markets and asset management cool, analysts predict the company will post a more than 40% decline in net profit this year. This forces Goldman to tighten its belt. Bank executives set aside 31% less for compensation in the first half. And in recent weeks, they’ve been gearing up to resume an annual showdown cycle that was halted during the pandemic, sketching out plans to eliminate several hundred roles.
Waldron’s efforts to get Marcus back on track are well received outside the bank. Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Susan Katzke wrote in a note last month that Goldman management assured her that while the company remains committed to such growth initiatives, it is emphasizing the wealth management and less on retail banking. The Waldron-led team vowed to focus more on retail banking after acknowledging that the firm “tried to do too much at once”, according to the report.