Reputation Bracketology: Bank of America vs. GM

By | March 31, 2014

Bank of America – Thomas Jefferson had a bank account at Bank of America. They are, after all, Bank of America.  Just a few short years ago Bank of America was touting its “higher standards,” was growing rapidly and seemed certain of an entrenched position among America’s leading companies.  Until the company wasn’t.

Today, it seems the company has a lot of work to do if it wants to be seen as more than just a profit monger.  Clearly, tone deaf is a trait that is pervasive in financials services, as evidenced by Bank of America’s decision to increase ATM fees in the midst of a reputational firestorm.  This is one case where use of the CEO seems ill-advised, as he seems to make things worse, not better. Bank of America has the lowest customer satisfaction of its peers, and although profitable, its financial performance is showing signs of vulnerability and volatility.

GM – A few months ago, GM seemed to be leading the charmed life.  The “new GM” had put the bailout behind the company, and exuberance for its new CEO Mary Barra abounded.  And then came the recall.  Some experts say that Toyota’s settlement is a precursor for what may come for GM, which could change its game. But for right now, GM gets high marks for an effective, transparent response.  Prior to the recall, Barra highlighted reducing bureaucracy as one of her priorities, and a culture of accountability will serve the company well during times of trouble.  As a new CEO, she has the ability to be the person who solved the problem, without necessarily carrying the baggage of creating the problem.

Winner: GM, because it is rising to the occasion far better than Bank of America.  Of course, should the investigation reveal that corporate bureaucracy or greed caused a “hush up” – the outcome may be very different in future rounds.

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