NEW YORK: Consumer opinion of Goldman Sachs continues to fall, despite a massive CSR campaign and recent revisions to the firm's much-criticized bonus plan.
The YouGov BrandIndex showed Goldman's sentiment rating at -26.1 as of January 20, down from the January 1 score of -24.4. The numbers point to a continuing trend: On December 1, 2009, Goldman's score was at -18.3.
For the poll, the BrandIndex interviewed 5,000 respondents representing a national audience.
“With the financial crisis 18 months ago, the whole industry took a hit,” said Ted Marzilli, MD at BrandIndex. “Since then, a lot of the banks have bounced back, but consumer sentiment has remained negative.”
The drop comes as the firm announced record profitability for Q4, reporting revenues of nearly $5 billion. Marzilli said Goldman's success is likely adding to consumers' distaste for the bank, despite efforts by CEO Lloyd Blankfein to appease public complaints.
In November, the financial giant announced it would donate $500 million to help small businesses. In December, Goldman revealed it would pay its top executives' year-end bonuses in the form of company stocks, instead of the rumored $16 billion that the media and public criticized as over-indulgent.
“From a revenues perspective, financial firms have fared quite well recently, which doesn't sit well with the public,” Marzilli said. “It generates a lot of talk about TARP, and how fair it is that these banks are reaping benefits from taxpayers' money.”
Marzilli added that Goldman, the most profitable bank on Wall Street, has the worst ranking by far. Competitor Morgan Stanley has the second lowest score, at -8.
“There's no question that Goldman is the most negatively viewed financial institution, because they're the most profitable and because Blankfein is in some respect putting himself out in the media so much,” Marzilli said. “They're generating the most press, and it's causing more of the public to talk about them, good or bad.”