Financial Services Industry’s Reputation Slowly Improves; More Than One-Third Of Americans Say The Industry Has A Good Reputation

NEW YORK – The Harris Poll® 2016 Reputation Quotient® (RQ®) Summary Report shows that 37 percent of Americans believe the financial services industry has a good reputation, marking a slow but steady improvement since the industry low of 2009 (11%). The 17th annual study, released today, reveals corporate reputation ratings for the 100 most visible companies in the U.S., as perceived by the general public.

“The financial services industry continues a slow but steady slog up the reputation hill,” said Wendy Salomon, vice president, Reputation Management at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. “While many Americans continue to vilify the financial services sector, the positive uptick could result in increased recognition of the good the industry does – such as enabling innovation, and helping people realize their dreams. However, opposing narratives continue to exist for very real reasons, and the industry will continue to be a hot topic of discussion, especially in an election year. For companies working to manage their reputation day in and day out, the backdrop of an increasingly positive industry reputation is welcomed.”

Eleven financial services companies appear on Harris Poll’s list of corporate reputation ratings with RQ scores ranging from “poor” to “excellent.” Berkshire Hathaway is the highest rated financial services company by corporate reputation, ranked eighth among companies across industries, while Goldman Sachs ranked last among financial services companies and #95 overall. The full rankings for all 100 companies can be found in The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient Summary Report at

The RQ, an important baseline for managing reputation and identifying new market risks and opportunities, measures companies’ reputation strength based on the perceptions of more than 23,000 Americans across 20 attributes classified into six corporate reputation dimensions: Social Responsibility, Emotional Appeal, Products and Services, Vision and Leadership, Financial Performance, and Workplace Environment. The reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. range from excellent (scores of 80+) to very poor (scores of 50 to 54).


The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient

Financial Services Companies Ranked Among the Top 100 Visible Companies in the U.S.

by Corporate Reputation Strength


Financial Services Companies

RQ Rank

RQ Score

Berkshire Hathaway


80.37, Excellent

The Vanguard Group


79.76, Very Good

Fidelity Investments


76.26, Very Good

American Express


75.53, Very Good

Discover Financial Services


71.67, Good

Wells Fargo & Company


69.73, Fair

JPMorgan Chase & Co.


67.93, Fair

Capital One Financial Corporation


67.47, Fair



64.80, Poor

Bank of America


64.26, Poor

Goldman Sachs


60.44, Poor


Reputational Drivers

According to the RQ study, trust and other Emotional Appeal factors, such as admiration and respect, largely drive reputation in the financial services industry, as does operating with high ethical standards. Berkshire Hathaway shows strong equity across several reputational drivers, but is most differentiated from other financial services companies on Vision and Leadership, and Financial Performance, placing in the top five for these dimensions among the 100 most visible companies.

“Truthfulness in marketing practices is important when it comes to whether or not a financial services company is trusted, more important than it is for companies in other sectors,” said Salomon. “Financial services companies are often given credit for product quality or having a vision for the future, but the same is not true in areas such as ethical behavior or trust. Simply put, financial services companies are often seen as falling short in the areas that most influence corporate reputation and that could result in a more positive business environment.”

Industry Comparisons

Only the pharmaceutical (33%) and tobacco (16%) industries, along with government (18%), fall below the financial services industry, while the insurance sector matches it with 37 percent of Americans saying it has a good reputation. The RQ study shows that a marginally larger percentage (38%) of Americans think the airline industry has a good reputation.


The 2016 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Report was conducted online in English, among more than 23,000 U.S. respondents from November 13 – December 24, 2015, with preliminary nominating waves of research conducted among 4,078 respondents from September 8 -10 and October 6 – 8, 2015. The Annual RQ study begins with a Nomination Phase, which is used to identify the companies with the most “visible” reputations. All respondents are asked, unaided, to name companies that stand out as having the best and worst reputations. Online nominations are summed to create a total number of nominations for each company. The final list of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. is measured in the RQ Ratings Phase. In the ratings phase, respondents are randomly assigned to rate two of the companies with which they are “very” or “somewhat” familiar.  After the first company rating is completed, the respondent is given the option to rate the second company. Companies are rated on their reputation on 20 different attributes that comprise the Reputation Quotient instrument. The attributes are grouped into six different reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal, Financial Performance, Products and Services, Social Responsibility, Vision and Leadership, and Workplace Environment.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll and sample partner surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in an online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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About The Harris Poll

Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Nielsen acquired The Harris Poll in 2014. Contact us for more information.

Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study results disclosed in this press release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.

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