The Bible has always taken a dim view of moneylenders and those who attempt to deceive the righteous. In his proverbs, King Solomon warns, “the mouth of the wicked utterth perverse things.” (Proverbs 10:32) For many in today’s financial world, moneylenders and the wicked are represented by the nation’s major banks, whose history of fraudulent practices and illegal behavior has triggered a string of lawsuits and federal regulation. Now, though, Bank of America, one of the most visible culprits in a number of lawsuits, is rolling out a new, user friendly image aimed at rebuilding consumer confidence – and paving the way for other big banks to follow suit.
A recent post to The Motley Fool reports that in a number of consumer polls, Bank of America comes in near the top of the list of the most hated companies in the US. A major player in the subprime mortgage frenzy that contributed to the housing crash of 2008, BofA was also heavily involved in the “robosigning” scandal afterwards that saw millions of foreclosure cases shoved through the system with no oversight and fraudulent bank official signatures.
One lawsuit and a hefty settlement later, the bank was among 16 large institutions facing another round of suits relating to reporting fraudulent numbers in order to manipulate LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) ratings, a standard for setting interest rates on short term loans around the world. While those cases, filed separately by various watchdog entities, are still working their way through the courts, Bank of America and its fellow defendants have won a few victories along the way, most notably with a motion to quash charges of violating antitrust laws.
In previous years, those legal troubles might not have reached the public. But in today’s information–rich society, where memories of the housing collapse remain painfully fresh, the financial troubles of the nations large money lenders are fairly well known even outside the financial news. And while Americans are notoriously willing to forgive and offer a second chance, investors and borrowers remain wary of doing business with these tarnished giants.
That means less revenue for the company. So to win back consumer trust, the bank is launching a new ad campaign that includes a new spokesperson, actor Will Arnett, and a slogan that reads, “Life’s better when we’re connected,” BofA aims to lure back disenchanted customers and woo new ones to open accounts and borrow money.
It remains to be seen whether Bank of America’s efforts are more than superficial. As the mortgage industry as a whole struggles to rebuild its image, consumers remain wary. For investors following Jason Hartman’s guidelines for building wealth through income property, the bank’s actions will speak louder than its words. (Top image: Flickr/modery)
The Solomon Success Team