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Only government and tobacco worse in reputation than financial services

Staff writer ▼ | April 20, 2015
The financial services industry's reputation has recovered considerably from its recent low point in 2009, but it still falls far below other industries many people love to hate, including energy and telecommunications.
Reputation   Citigroup and BofA the best among banks
However, some financial firms escape the downbeat industry assessment, with the reputations of two companies reaching the "very good" range, according to the 16th annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study.

According to the study, 35% of the general public say the financial services industry in general has a positive reputation, up from 11% six years ago. But only the government and tobacco sectors place lower in the survey, with just 15% of the general public saying each has a positive reputation.

In comparison, a greater percentage of the general public give positive reputation ratings to other industries, including:

45% for energy
46% for automotive
53% for telecom
54% for manufacturing
60% for consumer products
77% for technology

"For an industry that people interact with daily on some of the most important matters in their lives, from arranging mortgages to saving for retirement and college, financial services still lack positive connotations for most of the customers it serves," says Wendy Salomon, vice president of reputation management & public affairs for Harris Poll.

For the RQ study, Harris Poll annually surveys the general public to establish the most visible companies and then ranks them according to their corporate reputations from excellent to very poor, with none falling into the very poor range based on this year's results. Harris Poll expanded the list this year from 60 to 100 companies. In addition to the more detailed company rankings, Harris Poll also asks whether specific industries have a positive or negative reputation.

Compared to the financial services industry overall, the reputations of the individual financial companies among the 100 most visible companies range widely from very good (scores of 75 to 79) to poor (scores of 50 to 64).

Twelve financial firms make this year's list of the 100 most visible companies, with USAA topping the group with a very good reputation rating of 78.22 and ranking 22 out of the 100 most visible companies overall.

Citigroup and Bank of America have shown the greatest reputation improvement among financial companies in recent years, although both still fall into the poor reputation range in this year's study. Citigroup's 2015 score has increased almost 12 points from 2010 while Bank of America's reputation has risen nearly 11 points since 2012.