Americans are slowly improving their perception of the reputation-battered financial services industry, according to the Harris Interactive 2010 EquiTrend study.
The data in the financial services category shows evidence of recovery in terms of consumer perceptions, according to Harris analysis. The average brand equity scores across all financial services brands are on their way back to 2008 levels, a result of increases in both quality and purchase consideration perceptions.
Even AIG, whose reputation took a large hit during the financial crisis, experienced a significant increase in equity over the past year. The one brand whose equity score decreased in this year’s results was Bank of America,al though Merrill Lynch – a brand that Bank of America acquired in 2009 – had a significant increase in brand equity.
Trust Recovers More Slowly
EquiTrend results indicate that trust in the financial industry as a whole is also on its way up, though it has not yet achieved 2008 or even 2007 levels. AIG again showed improvement. However, there were decreases in this measure for Aflac, MasterCard, and Bank of America, although Merrill Lynch again experienced an increase while its parent brand is falling.
Despite this recovery there are still some brands that are struggling, particularly when it comes to the percentage of people who would be saboteurs of brands. In the financial services category, brands with the highest percentage of saboteurs include Freddie Mac, AIG, Countrywide, and Bank of America.
“While the industry is enjoying some reprieve from the onslaught of bad news that so damaged brand equity in this sector, consumer trust continues to lag and is taking longer to rebuild,” said Howard Lax, SVP, financial services research, Harris Interactive.
Finance Seen as Too Powerful
A sizable majority of Americans think banks and financial institutions have too much power in Washington, DC, according to the results of another recent poll from Harris Interactive. Eighty-three percent of Americans said banks and financial institutions are too influential on the federal government.
Although Republicans have an image of supporting finance, Republicans and Democrats agreed that banks and financial institutions wield too much political power. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans and 83% of Democrats said that banks and financial institutions have too much power.
About the Data: This year’s EquiTrend study was conducted online among 19,708 US consumers ages 15 and older between January 12 and 21, 2010. The total number of brands rated was 1,151. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire US population of consumers ages 15 and over on the basis of age sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, and income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online.