Forget what the public thinks — banks may have a self-image problem.
That's one takeaway from a recent survey by Makovsky, a New York public relations firm, which found that negative perceptions of Wall Street are taking a toll on the financial services industry's own image-makers.
The survey — which polled 225 marketing and communications executives from financial firms with average revenues of $440 million — showed that many participants blame their firms' bad reputations for bogging down their bottom lines. Executives also reported feeling nervous about future regulatory actions.
The survey showed that 80% of the participants say that recent bank scandals, including regulatory fines and lawsuits, have made it difficult to repair their damaged public images. More than half of the respondents also said recent criticisms of high-frequency trading could affect their reputations.
It's not just memories of bank losses and scandals, though, that are looming over the once-sterling brands of the nation's banks. The survey showed that many respondents also feel a sense of trepidation for the future.
More than 50%, for instance, said they feel nervous about potential security breaches in their customer data. Additionally, more than two thirds of the executives said they are concerned potential enforcement actions from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"There is still risk and distrust and questions about regulatory action," John McInerney, a vice president at Makovsky, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I think this is all just taking a lot longer to heal than almost everybody expected."
Overall, there's a shell shock from the crisis that affects the public — and carries over to members of the industry itself.
"People have a really lasting memory," McInerney says. "This is burned in."