Wall Street’s Reputation

February 21, 2009

Wall Street’s Reputation

Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

All the King’s Horses

And all the King’s Men

Couldn’t Put Humpty Together Again


Seems that some company reputations are irreparable.  Nell Minow is editor of the Corporate Library and a well-known guru of corporate governance. She recently wrote an article for CNN.com about Wall Street getting what it deserved. What struck me was her keen observation (no surprise) that not only has Wall Street lost billions in people’s wealth but they have dashed all equity they had in Wall Street’s reputation as a trustworthy source of financial information and reliance. My sense is that Wall Street’s reputation will take many years to recover and regain trust. Every time I think the industry is at ground zero, I hear new bad news such as the Stanford Group. After Enron, I was fairly sure that companies would right the course and focus on values and culture. No more cowboy-anything-goes type of culture. Nell is right in saying that it sure would have helped if Wall Street  firms had taken the first steps towards placing curbs on compensation, bonuses and perks. The collateral damage on Wall Street is severe and despite the bad behavior of some, firms will rise up again. However, it would be nice to hear more about how Wall Street firms are working together to improve their industry reputation and remedy their practices so that it never happens again. Being an optimist, the cracks will mend and Humpty Dumpty will get back on his feet.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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