Retail banks the worst hit by Obama’s plans

Stephan Shakespeare
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YOUGOV’S BrandIndex operates in the United States, as well as the UK and continental Europe. We have looked at the impact that President Obama’s announcement on 21 January may have had on the American public’s perception of US consumer and investment banking brands.

Obama’s proposals include strict regulations on consumer banks, restricting their ability to trade within investment operations, and especially halt the flow of propriety trading.

How have these proposals affected US public perceptions of banking brands?

To discover this, we combined the BrandIndex “impression” scores for three of the major US investment banks (Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley), and compared them to the combined “impression” scores of three major US consumer banks (Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo) from 1 December 2009 until 25 January 2010.

Retail banks’ brands have been hit hard, declining from a recent peak in mid-December 2009 of -8 to a trough of -25 in the days immediately following Obama’s announcement.

Investment banks’ brand impressions grew stronger over this period: climbing from -21 to -9. Perhaps people were reminded about the risky speculation that their (formerly) trusted consumer banks had engaged in. This change in public impression started to occur even before Obama made his announcement, as speculation about its content appeared in the media.

In the battle of the investment banks, it is perhaps unsurprising that Goldman Sachs has scored consistently lower than J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley over the past year. Public dissatisfaction at what appeared to be the bank’s arrogant and unapologetic attitude (Goldman chief executive officer Lloyd Blankfein described their activities as “God’s work”), has ensured that Goldman’s average BrandIndex score over the past twelve months was a poor -17, with J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley recording more modest dissatisfaction at -5 and -9 respectively.

Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.