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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

34 mins ago - Health

DeSantis to bar Florida schools from mandating masks

Photo: Michael Reaves via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Friday he will issue an executive order "very soon" barring local school districts from requiring students to wear masks when they return to school next month, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The spread of the Delta variant has led to a spike in new infections across the U.S., triggering another round of debate about COVID guidelines in schools.

Trump's tax returns must be released to Congress, DOJ says

President Trump at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP

The Treasury Department "must" release former President Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, the Department of Justice said in a memo Friday.

The big picture: The DOJ memo comes after a long dispute between the committee, which first sought to obtain the former president's returns two years ago, and Trump, who fought to keep his finances private.

CDC: Delta variant may cause mild COVID among fully vaccinated people

A storefront sign in Los Angeles reminds people masks are for everyone. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

About 74% of 469 COVID-19 cases associated with large gatherings held in Barnstable County, Mass., from July 3 to 17 were among fully vaccinated people, according to data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The data bolsters emerging evidence that vaccinated people have high viral loads and may transmit the Delta variant as easily as those who are unvaccinated.