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(The following post first appeared on My Three Cents, Ken Makovsky’s own blog.)
While more than three in four (77%) financial industry communications and marketing professionals feel their company’s reputation will improve this year, many challenges remain, according to a survey of 150 communications and marketing executives at leading financial institutions, commissioned by Makovsky + Company, and undertaken by Echo Research in February and March of this year.
Chief among the issues they face: negative public perception, which was cited by nearly eight in ten (78%). This is most likely the result of the lingering aftermath of the financial meltdown in 2008, which led to “The Great Recession.” This is borne out by the fact that nearly all of our respondents (96%) said that financial services companies invited negative public perception because of their actions or inactions.
I noted with interest that 74% of those we polled believe that increased regulations of the financial services industry will help their firms improve reputations and trust with customers faster.
This point is both interesting and disturbing. It suggests that their reputations will improve due to external forces (in the form of increased regulation) as opposed to initiatives undertaken by the industry itself and its participants to bolster their reputations.
Should a company’s reputation be left to outside forces? I don’t think so. A company’s reputation is forged by its actions and should flow from its leadership.
Related to this is the fact that the industry and many of the companies in it could be doing a better job, from a public relations standpoint, if they are going to overcome the disease of distrust. In fact, 57% of those polled graded the industry’s public relations efforts as “average,” “below average” or “failing.”
It is at least heartening to note that most respondents believe their departments will grow in importance in the near term.
Ken Makovsky is president of Makovsky & Company and treasurer of the Institute for Public Relations.
(Note: Echo Research completed 150 interviews with personnel responsible for the management and supervision of communications or marketing at large and mid-sized publicly traded and private financial services institutions. The type of companies surveyed included banks, brokerage firms, asset management firms, insurance companies, research and financial technology firms. Respondent titles included manager/supervisor, vice president, director and chief marketing officer. Respondents participated from February 22 through March 1, 2012. The margin of error associated with this level of reporting is +/- 8.0% at a 95% confidence level.)