Financial services firms know they have a problem. Many consumers blame these enterprises for leading the country into the Great Recession. As a result, financial services operators intend to embark on reputation improvement campaigns this year.

The 2012 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study finds that marketing executives intend to tackle their negative image. Nearly all believe that media reports about excessive compensation are hurting their industry. On the other hand, 74% welcome the new financial regulations that have been put in place as a first step to improve trust. Scott Tangney, Executive Vice President and head of the Financial Services practice at Makovsky, says top goals this year will be “management and product/service quality as well as their company’s commitment to rebuilding reputation.”

Additional pressure is coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Over half of surveyed executives say these protests have impacted their business.

Currently, industry operators are giving themselves the following public relations grades:

  • Average, below average or failing 57%
  • Above average 34%
  • Perfect 9%

For 40% of marketing executives at financial services concerns, social media has a positive effect on reputation. But more than half say they see no impact at all. However, Tangney adds that “social media will grow in importance, especially to improve public perception and connect with customers.” It’s likely that banks, mortgage companies and stock brokerage firms will use a variety of media formats to improve their image with consumers this year.

[Source: Wall Street Firms Admit Responsibility for Poor Reputation. Marketwatch.com. 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 Apr. 2012]