Brick by Brick

Few folks would deny that the financial services industry needs a reputational reset. But what exactly do financial firms need to do to in that regard? It turns out there is a lot they can do — or should have done —  to rebuild trust among consumers, regulators, policymakers and the global investment community.

Take the recent billion dollar trading loss fiasco at J.P. Morgan Chase. “He could have given up the chairman’s responsibilities and it would have taken 50 percent of the noise out of the issue,” said Michael Campbell, president and CEO of Dominick & Dominick, an investment services firm. Campbell was among five panelists moderated by Diane Brady, senior editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, at the BlissPR Financial Services Symposium held at the Princeton Club of New York on May 21, 2012.

Other panelists were: Stormy Byorum, executive vice president of Stephens, Inc, Mary Joan Hoene, counsel at Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP and former SEC regulator, David Reavis, senior vice president and external communications director at KeyCorp and Teresa Ressel, former CFO and assistant secretary for management at the U.S. Treasury.

Panelists delved into what banks need to do reinvent relationships with customers, the current state of regulation, and how best to handle the media (to follow the conversation, guests live Tweeted the event at #blissFS).

Some key takeaways that gave actionable intelligence on restoring reputation included:

  • Provide one percent cash back on all money funds
  • Acknowledge and own potential problems—before they erupt
  • Examine policies to ensure there is a “customer first” motto
  • Promote transparency and communication at all times
  • Provide financial literacy to consumers
  • Ensure that the center of compliance remains in the business unit, not the compliance department

Perhaps most important is that trust will take years to rebuild. “My philosophy is that you build a wall brick by brick—anything that is worth building takes a long time. Credibility doesn’t come back to the industry overnight,” said Campbell.


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: Toddi Gutner