Though the Occupy protesters have taken their tents out of Zuccotti Park, they’re still making their mark.
The majority of marketing and communications executives at financial services firms said that Occupy Wall Street has impacted their business, according to a study conducted by Echo Research and Makovsky — a research company and an integrated communications firm specializing in financial services, respectively. The number one challenge for firms this year is dealing with a negative public perception, according to Scott Tangney, an executive at Makovsky. In recent years past, recovering from the financial crisis superseded that concern.
New Focus on the Street
“Banks and financial services firms have now shifted their focus from liquidity and financial performance to customer satisfaction and their own employees,” Tangney said. “The Occupy Wall Street Movement has indicated to firms where they need to be focusing.”
The study’s findings come a little more than one week after Occupy Wall Street protesters were met with arrests celebrating the movement’s six month anniversary.
Yet despite all the ruckus caused by protestors, more than 95 percent of marketing executives are blaming their firms’ bad reputations on the companies themselves, not the movement, according to the study.
That’s in line with sentiments expressed by Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit in October, when he said the protesters’ sentiments are “completely understandable.”
Sector Has Lots of Other Problems
Since the Occupy Movement began, the financial sector has faced a slew of other PR debacles. Last year, Bank of America dealt with heavy customer backlash after attempting to impose a debit card fee. Earlier this month, negative public perception became a heightened problem for Goldman Sachs when a former employee wrote a scathing op-ed about the company’s culture in The New York Times.
Still, even with all of these public disasters, the financial services industry may be inching its way back into the good graces of the American public. This year, 46 percent of Americans said they trust the financial services industry, up from only 25 percent that said the same thing last year, according to an Edelman report from earlier this month. Φ
Khadeeja Safdar blogs at the Huffington Post.