Thought Leadership

Reputation in Financial Services: Problem Solved?

Mike Robb

We are delighted to launch MHP’s inaugural Financial Services Reputation Index with a packed audience hearing from a range of experts and influencers about where they thought the industry was, and what the future might look like.

For more information or to discuss the data behind the report, please contact

Where does the reputation of the financial services industry sit today?

The financial crisis of 2008 was a watershed moment for the financial services industry and the way it is perceived by the wider world. The global recession that ensued is still being felt today and, in reputational terms, the industry hit rock bottom.

But one thing is certain: there was undeniable acceptance in the years after the crisis as the industry sat up and took notice of the public and political outcry. Reputation was catapulted to the top of the CEO agenda.

Now a decade on, this is an opportune moment to step back and ask this simple question: how does the British public view financial services today?

The findings outlined in this report paint a mixed picture. The majority of people are positive about the industry as a whole and this demonstrates incredible progress, not only from the financial crisis but through damaging post-crisis events including LIBOR and PPI, which arguably had as damaging an impact as the financial crisis itself.

The net positivity towards banking is a welcome surprise in particular, and demonstrates significant positive progress by the sector seen as the root cause of the wider financial industry’s reputational decline. But the fact that two in five are still negative towards banking reminds us that there is still significant work to be done.

Looking at other sectors the picture becomes less positive, but a clear and consistent trend that might explain this is a lack of understanding caused, in part, by inherently opaque practices. This misunderstanding is particularly acute in asset management, pensions, private equity and, perhaps most surprisingly, fintech. There are real implications of this deep misunderstanding and the industry is selling itself short if it does not seek to improve it.

The findings also highlight the impact of the echo chamber in which we operate, particularly regarding fintech. With 87 per cent saying they did not have a view on the reputation of fintech, and yet with so many people within the industry itself talking about it as some kind of panacea, there is a real danger we all start to make incorrect assumptions. While these findings will certainly come as a shock to fintech evangelists, they reiterate the fact that consumers simply want financial services to make their lives easier, provide better customer service, increase transparency and deliver the accessibility customers want.

Ultimately, the underlying products and services provided by the industry are positive enablers of the things everyday people want to do in life. Mortgages let us buy something most people would never be able to afford; retirement savings ensure we can provide for our later years; and insurers protect us against unexpected and life-changing events. At MHP we work with businesses across the industry and it is vital that we never forget the crucial impact of what these firms do for ordinary people across the country.

I hope the findings we present today provide a positive moment in which to reflect on how far the industry has come in the last 10 years. But more so, I hope they highlight where greater focus is required and what the industry needs to do in the next decade to cement its reputation.

FSRI: Reputation in Financial Services: Problem Solved?