Market research firm Harris Poll just published its list of the most loved companies in the U.S. Or, if you’re a pessimist and start at the bottom and then read up, it’s a list of the most hated companies in America. Using that methodology, Goldman Sachs holds the top spot.
The 16th annual poll asked 27,278 respondents to assess the reputation of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. based on six factors: social responsibility, emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, financial performance, and workplace environment. Goldman finished dead last, five spots worse than it did last year when Harris only considered 60 companies.
The poll clearly shows the vitriol that’s still aimed at Goldman following the crisis, but the timing appears a bit odd. Unlike other competitors, including several that finished at the tail end of the list, Goldman didn’t spend the last year wrapped in scandal, with the possible exception of the Carmen Segarra incident. J.P. Morgan and Bank of America found themselves making negative headlines much more often this year.
Moreover, Goldman isn’t a retail bank. It doesn’t foreclose on people or make them wait 30 minutes on hold to talk about a checking account issue. Bank of America finished last in 2014 but moved up 10 spots this year.
So what made the difference? Possibly it was the methodology. Unlike in years past, when Harris only used Joe Public, this time around they included “opinion elites” – people who are more knowledgeable of the companies and are deemed more engaged and influential. So maybe it was industry-types that took Goldman down?
There is some good news though. On the whole, banks improved their reputation among the public over the last two years, although they still only trump the government and companies whose products give you cancer.
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