Wall Street's Image Problem

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on September 21, 2011

There’s a new survey out that doesn’t bode well for MBAs, at least the large number of them who end up on Wall Street. The nationwide survey of 526 people was conducted via email by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania and measured the level of professionalism in 22 occupations. Wall Street executives were deemed some of the least professional people around. The only group that fared worse was Congress, which came in dead last.

The survey included Democrats (34.2 percent), Republicans (25.7 percent), Independents (23.7 percent), as well as those with no party affiliation (12.9 percent) even a few who identified themselves as being members of the Tea Party (3.3 percent). It asked respondents to assign a letter grade to each occupation, then a GPA was calculated for each. You can see the GPAs for all the professions here: professions.pdf.

At the top of the list: military, nurses, and physicians. In their written comments, respondents who awarded these occupations A’s said they did so because they were ethical, committed, compassionate, knowledgeable, and respectful.

But the professions that received a preponderance of D’s and F’s—including bankers (GPA: 2.18), corporate executives (1.97), Wall Street executives (1.57), and members of Congress (1.52)—got dinged because of unethical behavior, greed/selfishness, lack of commitment, being disrespectful, and arrogance.

The survey results put Wall Street executives on par with car salesmen and make the news media--no stranger to the bottom of similar lists in the past--look positively saintly. It's worth noting that the data were collected before the crisis over the debt ceiling, an event that probably further eroded the last remnants of respect that remain for both Congress and Wall Street.

One reason why bankers, executives, and Wall Street types are viewed with such disdain is no doubt economic pain--many view Wall Street as the proximate cause of a financial crisis that plunged the nation into a recession that left millions unemployed. It didn't help that the whole sorry episode ended with Wall Street getting a bail out.

Do you think executives in general, and financial executives in particular, should be concerned about their image problem, and if so, is there anything they can do about it?


Reader Comments

Gabrielle

September 21, 2011 5:32 PM

Members of Congress, Wall Street executives, Car salespeople, Unemployed, Newspaper news media/Television news media, Employees under 35, Corporate executives, and Presidential candidates would not be able to earn a degree from the college that did this survey with that kind of GPA!

Harlan Light

September 21, 2011 8:10 PM


Image problem?!!!!!! The problem is obviously the disparity of haves and have nots of which few executives are hardly aware and fewer could give a damn. Chaos born out of greed, corruption, general ethics, and myopic social vision will continue to increase as the fiat capitalists have no sense of real capital ( air, water and biosphere)

Geoffrey Henny

September 21, 2011 10:02 PM

No. I think they should just have their assets stripped and go to jail. After serving some real hard time they should come out and work at a real job in the fields or in a factory. As the Chinese recognize, when you rob the public of trillions of dollars you are committing murder because people die when they cannot care for themselves or their families because of someone else's theft. The Chinese know how to deal with major thieves. While I am not an advocate of capital punishment, we have a very large white collar criminal class in this country and indeed everywhere. They swamps the number of street thugs and petty criminals out there we put in jail everyday. These white collar thieves need to pay or our entire criminal justice systems becomes a joke.

J Wagner

September 23, 2011 10:46 AM

As long as the White Collar Criminals can get away with destroying the world for their own greed, they will. Eventually, we will see desperate vigilante groups hang them from trees in Central Park and the Cherry trees in DC.Ironically these groups will be lead by former Tea Party patriot foot soldiers that have realized they've been played like a violin. At least the rope manufacturers will have to hire people. Government/Business better correct the problem or "the people" will.
Historically the tipping point for revolution/war is around 35% unemployment. The American people are too spoiled to let it get anywhere near that number before whole segments of this society will charge the barricades.
"How's that stalemate in Congress working for ya?" If your thinking "It's taking the heat off me " you will be one of those at the wrong end of the rope. The ineviatable demise of Wall Streeters,lobbyist,and gov't-on-the-take will redefine the meaning of - tree huggers.

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