Many financial services firms don't track their reputation, says MHP survey

One in four comms directors of financial services companies do not actively track their organisation's reputation - while one in seven say their CEO has never raised their firm's reputation with them.

That’s according to a poll of 41 financial services comms chiefs by MHP to coincide with its Financial Services Reputation Index, released today.

There was a downbeat assessment of the industry’s reputation, with 54 per cent of financial services comms chiefs rating it as "quite bad", and a further seven per cent as "very bad"; 37 per cent agreed it was "quite good", and none said it was "very good".

While 68 per cent said they actively track their organisation’s reputation, 24 per cent said they did not.

Willingness to do so may be linked to the views of the chief executive. Two thirds said their CEO raised their organisation’s reputation with them in the last three months, while 20 per cent said they did so in the past 12 months, and 12.5 per cent said it had never been raised.

Most firms appear to have acted to improve their reputation, however. Eighty per cent said they had taken activity in the last 12 months with the primary objective of positively impacting the reputation of the organisation (although 20 per cent had not).

Asked what the UK financial services industry could do to enhance its reputation, comms chiefs chose improving communications with customers as the top answer, backed by 38 per cent of respondents.

It was ahead of improving customer service (28 per cent) and being more transparent (15 per cent). Paying more tax, and paying senior management less, were each backed by just two per cent.

Meanwhile, 51 per cent of respondents were unsure about whether Brexit will positively or negatively impact the reputation of the UK financial services sector; 37 per cent thought the impact would be negative, and 12 per cent positive.

Separate research of the UK public by Populus for MHP suggests the financial services sector has been successful in turning around its reputation since the financial crash of 2008, according to the agency – although people apparently trust traffic wardens more than bankers.

The survey of 1,089 adults asked respondents to rank the most trustworthy of six professions.

People ranked traffic wardens significantly above bankers, with 51 per cent seeing the former favourably compared to just 30 per cent with the latter. Lawyers came out top (65 per cent), ahead of estate agents (23 per cent), journalists (22 per cent) and politicians (eight per cent).

However, MHP says banking has had a positive turnaround in terms of reputation, with 55 per cent of people having a positive view of this sector. This rises to 89 per cent when asked about the reputation of their own bank.

Mike Robb, MD and head of financial services at MHP, said: "These figures demonstrate incredible progress in rehabilitating the financial services industry’s reputation since the depths of the crisis. The positive turnaround in banking is particularly noteworthy, but with two in five still holding a negative view about the sector’s reputation it is certainly not a case of ‘job done’.

"In many parts of the industry the picture is far more negative and the lack of understanding about what specific sectors do is holding back the development of a positive reputation. Asset management and private equity in particular show the need to better explain what they do for the real economy and ordinary people, while fintech as a term in itself clearly does not mean anything to consumers, despite having been a buzz word within industry circles in recent years."

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