Banks still have work to be to build their reputations

Only 44% of consumers look on the banking industry favourably, but 79% are satisfied with their own bank

The banking industry still suffers from reputational damage as a legacy of past (and some on-going) scandals. Consumers generally have less positive view of the industry than they have of individual bank brands and the individual banks they use. In the banking industry, the whole (the industry’s reputation) is worth less than the sum of its parts (the reputation of individual bank brands). In terms of their view of the banking industry, consumers split into three group

• Promoters: they have a positive attitude towards banks. They trust them, have a favourable view of them and think they act in their customer’s and society’s best interests.

• Detractors: they are the exact opposite of the Promoters. They have a negative attitude towards the banking industry (although around one-third trust the banks they personally use). They do not trust the banking industry, have a negative view of the industry and think the industry does not act in their customer’s nor society’s best interests.

• Ambivalent: They hold mixed views towards the banking industry. They respect banks, more than they like them or see them as working in their own or society’s best interests.

Similarly, in terms of their attitudes to the banks they use, consumers can be divided into three camps:

• Strongly Pro-Brand – consumers who associate positive words and phrases with their main bank and who would strongly recommend their bank to friends and relatives.

• Pro-Brand – like the above but less positive towards the brands they use but still overall having good feelings towards their main bank.

• Anti-Brand – consumers who associate more negative words and phrases with their main bank and who would not make a recommendation to friends and family.

Most consumer are Ambivalent about the Industry and Pro-Brand in attitude.

Consumer positive views of either the industry or individual banks are based on an unemotional assessment of the banking services provided, principally an assessment of the current account and/or online banking system. Consumers do not have warm and cosy feeling towards individual banks or the industry, they remain somewhat detached from both, even those consumers who tend to look favourably on the industry or individual bank. Consumers respect banks and industry more than they like either.

Examples of other key findings to come from this research, based on interviews with 1031 nationally representative consumers are:
•  77% of consumers think banks are economically essential and 55% think the industry offers high quality products and services.
•  Only 28% of consumers think the industry has high ethical standards and only 35% think it cares what people like them think of it.
•  46% of consumers feel that high pay and bonuses to bank staff have worsened their view of the banking industry
•  46% of consumers feel mis-selling of financial products has worsened their view of the banking industry
•  70% of consumers trust staff working in bank branches, while only 31% trust senior management and 19% investment bankers
•  56% of consumers feel that senior management should face criminal charges in serious wrong doing cases and 52% feel they should lose their jobs/positions without financial compensation.

This report provides key reputational and trust metrics regarding the banking industry and the banks used by individuals. This report enables providers to gauge the success of their own and others’ engagement strategies, and the extent to which brands have been successful or otherwise in dealing with and recovering from high-profile banking crises which have impacted on the industry and specific brands.

This report (68pp) and the detailed dataset of all survey results with a demographic analysis is available directly from IRN Research, priced at £2,500 (£3,000 including VAT) each. Discounts for multiple report purchases, report only, dataset only, or purchases of extracts.

Through the year, other Consumer Research reports on financial service topics will be published, including first-time buyer mortgages, mortgage customer journey, pensions, and banking. The discounted annual subscription to all reports is £16,250 plus VAT, plus there are discounts for purchasing only selected groups of titles.

See below for the Table of Contents and list of Figures

IRN Research

Established in 1991, IRN Research is a market research consultancy with a focus on the financial services market. We offer a range of bespoke research services, on an ad-hoc and continuous basis, to finance firms and suppliers to the sector. These services include client satisfaction surveys, market studies and competitor intelligence, client industry reports, and strategic studies.

For further information on the report or our research services contact Gary Giddings on +44(0)7970829751 or URL:



The whole is worth less than the sum of its parts… 5
Three views of the banking industry… 5
And three attitudes of the banks used… 6
Banks must work harder appealing to older, less affluent consumers, especially men… 6
Individual banks and the industry are respected more than they are liked… 7
Damaging society results in the biggest reputational hit to the industry… 8
So, taking actions and measure to prevent social damage will improve the industry’s reputation …9
As will improving customer service and accessibility …9
As will stopping closures of bank branches, which reduces consumer trust …10
Act now or face the consequences …10
The core brands from the big four banks need the most work… 11
Introduction …12
Report coverage… 12

Key findings… 13
Introduction… 13
Banks still have a reputational problem… 13
You can respect a bank without liking it… 15
Three types of consumer… 17
Even Detractors value the economic role of banks and even Promoters think banks pay excessive bonuses …18
Detractors more likely to be mature males… 19

Key findings… 22
Bonuses and product mis-selling the key negatives for consumers…22
Consumers show varying sensitivity to banking problems… 25
Public information vs Personal Information… 26
News over the past year has entrenched positions further… 28
Perceptions are driven from the top… 29

Key findings… 32
Fear the Group attribution error, or why all banks are in this together… 32
Banks need to take the appropriate actions to keep their customers close and assured …35
Preventive actions will change perceptions… 38
Further work to be done… 39
More regulation: do-it-yourself and forced-to-do-it… 42
Are fines the answer? …43
Controlling senior management… 44

Key findings… 46
The industry suffers from negative Gestalt… 46
Detractors dislike the label “bank”… 48

Key findings… 50
Introduction… 50
Good news for banks – your customers give you high ratings… 51
Three Types of Consumer… 51
What customers really value is a well-functioning online/current account service… 53
Brand associations and industry associations are not necessarily the same… 55
Banks must work harder appealing to older, less affluent consumers, especially men… 57

Key findings… 59
Acceptability, Competence and Products… 59
Lack of emotional connection… 61
Behaviour, service and ease of access the keys to positive feelings… 62

Key findings… 65
The core brands of the Big Four Banks are not looked on as favourably as smaller brands… 65
Anti-establishment brands attract those disaffected by the industry… 66









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