In the beginning of 2009, many predicted a watershed year for the banking industry. Home foreclosures and the debt rate soared; the implementation of TARP was underway; and consumer confidence in the banking industry was at an all-time low.
Yet, in the second half of the year, attitudes toward banks seemed to lighten up. A rebound in the stock market made up for much of the year’s early losses; at least ten banks repaid their assistance money; and belief in the free market began to emerge once again.
Looking back upon that tumultuous year, one could casually assess that the banking industry can weather any storm. Others will focus on lessons learned, retooling their strategies in a climate where the government and consumers are more involved in the private sector than ever before.
What actions are you taking in 2010 to address these unpredictable times?
EARN YOUR CUSTOMERS’ TRUST THROUGH TRANSPARENCYTransparency should not just be a legal requirement, but a fundamental principle that guides your business. The Edelman Trust Barometer, a 2009 global opinion leaders study, shows that trust plays a bigger role in product choice than just one year ago. And, many consumers now expect banks to partner with the government and society to solve financial problems. This is a huge attitudinal shift, so perhaps you should reconsider your communications strategies. Be forthright about any TARP money you’ve used, be sure to promote anything you’re doing to help the community, and even consider disclosing executive compensation.
THE REAL-WORLD BENEFIT OF BLOGSBlogging is an ideal way to promote transparency. Blog writing can help soothe the nerves of investors, achieve visibility for your firm, and address specific product trends. Not only can you continue to build a relationship with clients when they’re not in your office, you can use your blog to build a reputation with the media as well. By consistently putting yourself out there with authority, you can become the go-to person for reporters looking for experts.
Since we’re so intertwined with the government these days, remember that policymakers are sourcing the blogosphere as well. A November 2009 study from Edelman champions blogs as important resources for researching and shaping policy, citing nearly 40 percent of staffers who use blogs to monitor constituent opinions.
Shouldn’t you be listening and participating as well?