Dec 16, 2019

Financial firms hop on the podcast bandwagon

Illustration of a microphone surrounded by exclamation points

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Financial firms are getting in on the podcast mania.

By the numbers: All but two of the 10 biggest U.S. financial institutions by revenue have podcasts — the majority of which debuted within the past year, according to data compiled for Axios by analytics firm Chartable.

Driving the news: Goldman Sachs is testing a new format for its "Exchanges" podcast — the first of which premiered on Sunday. It's a soft launch of what it plans to release more regularly in January.

  • The firm launched another podcast, "Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs," earlier this year.

Between the lines: Financial firms' podcasts aren't exactly thrillers like "Serial," but rather another avenue banks can use to push their brand and stable of experts — and maybe lure in new clients.

  • For Wells Fargo, which launched its second podcast this year, it's a potential opportunity to rebrand.
  • "Podcasts allow you to remove the middleman and speak to customers in your own voice," John Oxford, director of marketing at Renasant Bank, a regional bank that will launch its own podcast in next few months, tells Axios.

The conversations take the form of one-on-one interviews — i.e. Bank of America's newest podcast features Arianna Huffington and Ken Burns — or more sober-minded educational segments on sustainable investing or the Federal Reserve.

  • Citigroup is one of the lone holdouts, keeping audio interviews with its strategists on its websites. But it sponsors Euromoney podcasts, as Fortune reported — essentially like a more traditional commercial that allows firms to tack on messaging.

The bottom line: "In a world where there's no differentiation between [financial] products," financial firms are using podcasts as a marketing mechanism to sell their brand, says Louise Beaumont, chair of Message Heard, which developed a podcast for NatWest, a U.K.-based commercial bank, this year.

  • Of note: Neobanks like Chime, Varo and Acorns are so far sitting out the podcast frenzy, though they are surely advertising on existing podcasts.

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