Wall Street’s Image Problem

According to primary voting exit polls in New York, 63% of Democrats and 49% of Republican voters agreed that Wall Street is hurting the economy more than it’s helping.

The results are surprising, given its location as the nation’s financial center, and the fact that New York’s economy has relied on Wall Street’s success for so long. Meanwhile, amid increased regulation and sinking profits, many banks are cutting back. Goldman Sachs announced this week that it’s cut pay 40% year over year, reducing compensation by $1.8 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase made similar announcements this earnings season.

So does Wall Street need an image rebranding?

Bob Dilenschneider, Founder of Dilenschneider Group, thinks Wall Street needs a united front with new leadership that explains what it brings to the economy, which he says is jobs, new businesses, and new products.

Profits down

Phil Ashley | Getty Images

And, “Wall Streeters – many of the top philanthropists in the world – need to tell their story of ‘giving back,’ ” he told CNBC.

“A bridge needs to be built to the ‘99%’ to let them know that their life is going to be better in the generation ahead thanks to Wall Street actions now,” he added.

Eric Dezenhall, Crisis Management Expert and “Glass Jaw” Author, is more skeptical. “Wall Street’s goal is not to be well loved, it’s to be attacked less,” he told CNBC.

“There’s a reason Wall Street has often tried to keep a low profile: they’re making billions of dollars in ways nobody understands and it goes against every basic tenet of human nature that you can get people to feel good about an elite making a fortune,” Dezenhall told CNBC.

“A very clever ad agency could pitch Wall Street on a reputational campaign that would make executives themselves feel good about their industry, but it would convince no one else of anything,” he added.

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