Eight years after the financial crisis, the securities and banking industry is adapting to a new, more challenging business environment. Even as companies cut costs, managements are investing in their brands, they are engaging with a greater cross-section of stakeholders on issues of corporate, employer, and investor responsibility. As illustrated in today’s New York Times, sophisticated communications strategies and strategists are changing corporate cultures and re-writing mission statements.
But more progress may be required. Banking industry leaders seem to agree that winning back public trust is a business imperative. Clearly, popular sentiment and politics are growing more punitive in the current Presidential campaign season. No matter which party prevails in Congress or wins the White House, regulatory scrutiny, punitive capital controls, and higher taxes will likely dominate the post-election agenda.
This is a moment when business professionals from all sectors should examine the dynamics of reputation management. Can messages change public discourse or has an entire industry that built modern, efficient and relatively transparent capital markets, become more and more of an anachronism? Which business principles apply in today’s society and how will those principles change behavior, reset the industry narrative, and allow bankers to shape a more sustainable future?