Wall Street’s Chronic Image Troubles Tied to

Greater Risk, Consumer Distrust, and Regulatory Actions


77% of Companies Report Financial Industry Risk is Higher Than or Same as 2007;

New Reputation Risks Loom  


New York, N.Y. (June 26, 2014) —  According to the 2014 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study, the financial services industry blames public perception, riskier markets and regulatory actions for its protracted reputation recovery.  

This is a major finding of the 2014 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study, designed to determine the state of reputation of the financial industry and identify best practices and emerging trends.  This third annual study was conducted by Ebiquity in May 2014.  See an  infographic highlighting the study findings here http://bit.ly/1pa2EQG .

The study showed that financial services firms continue to be pummeled by negative perception and regulatory overhaul and action, with the biggest drags on company reputation being negative public perception (64%) of the financial services industry and regulatory actions (55%) including investigations, lawsuits and fines. 

New regulations spun off from the Dodd-Frank Act, which Congress passed four years ago to overhaul the financial system after the financial crisis, are considered a bitter medicine by marketing and communications executives with 78% believing they will help restore trust faster.  However, 80% of the same executives also report that the investigations, lawsuits and fines that accompany the new rules have cast a dark shadow on their company in the past 12 months.  

“The 2014 study findings question how far financial services brands have advanced since the financial crisis,” said Scott Tangney, Executive Vice President at Makovsky.  “The industry is walking on a tightrope with the combination of negative perception, regulator actions and greater risk sapping reputation and financial performance.”          

Financial marketing and communications executives report that new regulations put in place after the financial crisis have wreaked havoc on corporate image, operations and performance:

  • More than half (53%) claim that capital and liquidity challenges still hinder their performance and impacted their company’s reputation in the past 12 months
  • 52% say bad financial performance in the past 12 months has damaged reputation
  • More than two-thirds of executives are concerned about complaints to CFPB and potential actions
  • More than three-quarters are worried (with 55% “Very Worried”) concerning executive compensation, an 18% increase over 2013 results

Other potent and emerging issues also threaten to complicate the rebuilding of corporate reputation: 

  • 64% of financial service executives are concerned about impact of High Frequency Trading on their company’s reputation.
  • More than half (56%) of executives are concerned about future cyber data breach incidents with their customer database.  And 4 out of 10 company’s say their company’s reputation has already suffered due to recent cyber data breaches.
  • Many worry about activist investors in the near future  

“The path to reputation recovery is still rough and riddled with issues to overcome.  This environment is complex and is testing the ability of marketing and communications executives to develop strategic programs that perform,” said Tangney.  “Most executives are in a state of angst when it comes to the current standing of Wall Street.”

When asked “which of the following do you believe best characterizes the current reputation of the financial services industry”, executives responded: 



Research Methodology

Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, completed 225 interviews with executives and managers responsible for the management and supervision of communications, investor relations 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, real estate companies, credit card companies, mortgage lender, venture capital firms and credit unions and financial technology firms. Respondent titles included Chief Marketing Officer, Vice President, Director and Manager/Supervisor.  The study was completed in May 2014. The margin of error associated with this level of reporting is +/- 6.5% at a 95% confidence level.


About Makovsky

Founded in 1979, Makovsky (www.makovsky.com) is one of the nation’s largest and most influential independent integrated communications firms.  The firm attributes its success to its original vision: that the Power of Specialized Thinking™ is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for a client. Based in New York City, the firm has agency partners with nearly 2,000 professionals in 100 cities through IPREX (IPREX.com), the second largest worldwide public relations agency partnership, of which Makovsky is a founder.

About Ebiquity

Ebiquity is a leader in above- and below-line communications tracking and research, providing independent data-driven insights to the global media, CMO and CCO community to continuously improve clients’ business performance.

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Marisha Chinsky


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Scott Tangney


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