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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Scoop: Ukraine gives U.S. senators 4 specific asks

Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of Ukraine's parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian government is leaning on Congress — and a bipartisan group of senators negotiating compromise language on sanctions that could pass the Senate — in an effort to push the U.S. posture beyond the Biden administration's approach.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.