For Goldman Sachs Group (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report , a U.S. congressional hearing on Wednesday in Washington became a prime-time opportunity to promote its high-yielding online savings accounts -- broadcast for free, live on national cable-TV channels like CNBC.
The pulpit was provided by the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, which invited the CEOs of the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report and Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report , to testify on changes in their industry since the 2008 mortgage crisis. It was the first such hearing since Democrats, typically less friendly than Republicans toward industry titans, took control of the lower chamber in last November's elections.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, in his opening remarks, rattled off a list of "enhancements" to the Wall Street firm's business standards and practices, in addition to its "reduced complexity," and the steps taken to comply with new regulations.
But then he pivoted -- to talking about the New York-based company's three-year-old online bank, Marcus, which is currently paying among the highest interest rates in the financial industry on regular savings accounts.
The strategy stands in sharp contrast to the practice at JPMorgan and Bank of America, which have giant bricks-and-mortar branch networks and each pay less than 0.1% on regular savings accounts, even after more than two percentage points of official interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve in recent years. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan were sitting at the same table in the House hearing room, a few seats down from Solomon.
"We currently have a savings rate of two-and-a-quarter percent with no minimum balance and no fees, including no monthly fees, no transaction fees and no overdraft fees," Solomon said at the hearing. "We also provide no-fee, fixed-rate personal loans that provide consumers an alternative to borrowing on credit cards."
For Goldman Sachs, it was no-fee advertising.