How is the banking industry’s reputation faring?

New survey uncovers significant challenges that the industry must overcome

How is the banking industry’s reputation faring?

Banking is among the industries with the lowest reputations globally, having yet to fully shake off the ghosts of the Great Recession, according to a new survey by the RepTrak Company.

The 2021 edition of the Global RepTrak 100 poll, which the company said was “the first comprehensive post-pandemic study that evaluates the impact of unprecedented global events on company reputation and brand promises,” evaluated companies and industries based on several key drivers of reputation. These criteria included products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership, and financial performance.

“An especially interesting finding is that banks, diversified financials, and insurance; and media and entertainment are the only two industries where governance is the most important driver of corporate reputation,” RepTrak said.

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Lingering mistrust from the widely perceived mismanagement of the GFC “helps explain why governance (i.e., a company’s ethical behaviour, transparency, and fairness) is what matters most to the public when it comes to banks,” RepTrak explained.

“With citizenship as the second most important driver and product the lowest of any industry, it is evident the public still feels distrust as to whether banks can be trusted to do the right thing,” the survey added.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic impelling a significant shift from in-person interactions to online/mobile transactions, Canadian financial institutions are likely to labour under a further “erosion” of consumer trust, according to an Accenture analysis late last year.

The survey found that less than half (44%) of Canadians have “a lot” of trust in their banks – a proportion that was roughly 13% lower compared to 2018 readings.

“On one side, digital acceptance has allowed banks to meet customers’ needs in an efficient way despite the challenges of the pandemic, and it has also accelerated banks’ digital strategies,” said Robert Vokes, managing director and financial services lead at Accenture Canada. “On the other side, it has forced banks, in some cases, to launch solutions that do the trick functionally but are lacking in the human touch.”