Apparently, Even Wall Street Thinks Little Of Wall Street

Goldman Sachs is getting most of the negative headlines. But Wall Street firms across the board say their industry invites scorn. Can they ever change?

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It’s not just Goldman Sachs. Wall Street firms across the board deserve barbs from the public, according to a poll of financial industry marketing executives.

A stunning 96%—virtually every last Wall Street pro in the poll—said people in their industry invite negative public perception by their actions or inactions, according to the 2012 Makovsky Wall Street Reputation Study. In an epic round of self-flagellation, these executives said:

  • Increased regulation of financial services will help restore trust (74%). This is a group that never asks for more rules.
  • The Occupy Wall Street movement had a real impact on business and it will continue to hurt past the election (71%). What? Those jobless idealists? Sniff.
  • Wall Street pay will continue to batter the industry’s reputation (81%). Bankers simply must be paid millions, no matter what.
  • The industry’s collective PR effort was either average or failing (57%). Or hopeless.
  • Firms seen as having the best reputation include Bank of America (35%). And this bank is in just about everyone’s doghouse—from long suffering stockholders to troubled mortgage holders to regulators who won’t okay a dividend hike.

Goldman Sachs, of course, maintains a huge lead in the my-name-is-dirt sweepstakes. The now famous departure of derivatives executive Greg Smith who blasted the firm’s culture of greed in an op-ed is just the start. Smith is reportedly close to signing a book deal that should help keep Goldman in a negative PR spin for many months, if not years. The firm has had a rash of regulatory run-ins, and The New York Times just unearthed more evidence that the firm is willing to bankrupt clients in pursuit of its own profits.

(MORE: A Step Backward in Spreading Financial Literacy)

It’s been a rough ride for Goldman. But everyone in the industry is feeling blue.