Damage Control for the Financial Services Industry

Reputation issues are still top of mind for financial services professionalsA recent study shows that, despite the fact that the country is six years out from the crisis that put financial services providers in a highly negative light, the public continues to have a pessimistic view of the industry and the organizations involved.

According to the 2014 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study, which polled 225 communications, investor relations and marketing executives in the financial services industry, 81% of respondents felt that public perception of their industry is still clouded by the events that occurred on Wall Street in 2008. Reputation issues and customer service friction also resulted in a reported loss of (on an average) 27% in sales.  The organizations surveyed expressed concern about customer perception of trust and reputation when it came to their products, financial performance and regulation – among other issues that dictate customer satisfaction. 

Scott Tangney, executive vice president of Makovsky, emphasized the need for financial services providers to make addressing these reputation issues a top priority because, in his words, “This sour climate is here to stay for the foreseeable future as the majority of executives in charge of financial brands and corporate reputation believe it will still take up to five more years to restore their company’s reputation to pre-financial crisis levels.”

As far as the issues that most negatively impacted the companies’ reputations, a general negative perception of the financial services industry as a whole was the top cited reason by the organizations polled. The second and third most noted reasons for the lack of consumer confidence were regulatory issues (including investigations, lawsuits and fines) and challenges associated with capital and liquidity.

The reputational challenges faced by the financial services industry continue. The surveyed firms reported that they planned to place an increased focus on standing out and apart from firms with reputation issues, increasing sales based on positive perception of reputation and working towards rebuilding customer trust in the overall industry. With regulatory issues changing every day, financial services forms need to know they are delivering clear, relevant and complaint messages to their stakeholders. This requires a unified customer communications strategy and a platform that supports the execution and continuous improvement of that strategy.  CEDAR’s unified communications platform is one solution all financial services firms should look into and take the challenges of maintaining a good reputation off the table, so these firms can focus on increased sales and other relevant challenges.