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?