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It takes two to tango

There’s a thoughtful report out from Cicero this week which dovetails as a frank bit of relationship counseling between the financial services and media communities. In an attempt to move the debate on from the mistakes of the past, Changing the conversation - How can retail banks rebuild their reputation? looks at how the vicious cycle of distrust between the two parties can be broken.

First up on the couch are execs from the financial services sector. Understandably virtually everybody thinks the banks have a negative image in the press, but nearly three quarters reckon there is a degree of hysteria in the media’s portrayal of the UK retail banking sector and over half believe that UK media coverage does not fairly portray the sector.

One senior banker puts his finger on the dilemma: “To engage effectively with the media requires trust… If you are a banker why would you put yourself at extra risk? I feel there are a lot of good bankers around that had nothing to do with any of the issues that people are really angry about, who have taken a lot of bashing these days, and therefore they are a bit reticent to put themselves out in public.” At least a small majority in the FS industry accept they can do more to improve its reputation. 55 per cent believe banks should engage more proactively with the media specifically, acknowledging the need to do more to improve their standing in the press and, by extension, to the wider public as a whole.

If it takes two to tango right now both of the dancing partners are at either ends of the bar: one mouthing off abuse, the other feeling very sorry for itself.  Self pity will do nothing to benefit the banks in the long term and, as Cicero conclude, silence is no longer an option for the UK banking sector.

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