Wall Street Owns Up to Its Bad Rep

Blame for the financial crisis that fully bloomed in fall 2008 and continues to shadow all aspects of economic life in the U.S. has been freely cast at several targets in the months and years since the Lehman Brothers collapse. Finally, blame has been freely accepted—surely an important step in the economy's long, slow revival. An indirect mea culpa has finally come from...Wall Street itself.

Nearly 100% (96%, to be exact) of communications and marketing leaders at financial services firms said in a survey commissioned by Makovsky + Company that their companies invited negative public perception by their actions. This is not exactly the same thing as accepting blame for the financial crisis itself; rather, it's an admission of responsibility for the crises of reputation financial firms must now face as a result of the financial meltdown and its aftereffects. According to the survey, conducted online for Makovsky by Echo Research in February and March of this year, negative public perception sits atop the list of challenges financial services firms must overcome.

This acceptance of responsibility for their tarnished reputations has been translated into action: 73% of the communications and marketing executives said their departments grew in importance over the past year.

The power of the messaging behind the Occupy Wall Street movement was also given its due. Just over half of the executives surveyed said that the Occupy movement had a real impact on their businesses; 71% expect the movement to continue after the November presidential election; and 38% said they were surprised by the rise of the movement.

Wells Fargo has the best corporate reputation in the financial services industry, according to the study.

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