ABA Banking Journal - April 2011 - (Page 38)
feature story | banks’ image
“main street, we have
issue—the sharp decline in how the public regards banking. This decline was clearly made worse by the financial crisis that the vast majority of traditional banks had no part in causing. During the crisis, “banking” was redefined by the media and policymakers to include mortgage brokers, Wall Street investment banks, and even AIG. Combine this with the TARP “bailout”—which was anything but—and there has been blood in the water for banks ever since. The overreaching DoddFrank Act is the most glaring example of how misinformation can drive bad public policy.
Three years of bank-bashing have left traditional banks frustrated at their sagging image. Something needs to be By Bill Streeter, editor-in-chief done…and it is
As he took office last October, ABA Chairman Steve Wilson, CEO of LCNB National Bank, Lebanon, Ohio, was deeply disturbed by this trend. He was frustrated that people generally aren’t aware of, or don’t understand, what traditional banks do to help people and support their communities. He made it a primary goal of his term to repair banking’s damaged reputation and to help restore the industry to the position of honor it once held. As he said, “We stand a far better chance of winning in the political arena when we are also winning in the arena of public opinion.”
awyer jokes used to have a lock on the market. Not anymore. Type “banker jokes” on Google and you’ll find plenty to choose from, including this one: Q. What’s the problem with banker jokes? A. Bankers don’t think they’re funny; nor mal people don’t think they’re jokes. Ouch! Lawyers might tell bankers to just get over it. Easy for them to say. Congress is run by lawyers. If it was just about jokes, bankers would get over it. But the jokes are a symptom of a much more serious
They said that?
Takeaways from ABA consumer focus groups the community and economic development, but know little about the extent to which it’s currently done. Regs not being enforced Most do not understand how, and the extent to which, banks are regulated, although they believe that existing regulation isn’t being enforced, as shown by the recent financial crisis. make a profit, but not too much Banking is a commodity to most people. They want it to work and, while they believe that banks are entitled to make a profit, they don’t want the fees to be unreasonable. Don’t whine People generally do not want to hear banks complain about regulation. It sounds self-serving and whiny.
Focus groups are always enlightening and frequently jarring. ABA conducted four of them earlier this year to explore consumer perceptions about banks. Below are some typical observations. Whose fault? When asked who was responsible for the
financial crisis, the answer was “everyone.” Banks, the government, predatory lenders, ratings agencies, consumers who made poor choices.
big vs. small Consumers drew a distinction between big banks and community banks—although they weren’t sure how many community banks still exist—and between banking and Wall Street, although the line was blurry. not sure what you do They favor banks’ involvement in
38 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | april 2011
If you would like to try to load the digital publication without using Flash Player detection, please click here.