Reputational Risk

Reputational Risk

Reputational Risk Jonathan Poland

Reputational risk refers to the potential for damage to an organization’s reputation as a result of its actions or inactions. Reputation is an important asset for businesses, as it can affect customer trust and loyalty, employee morale, and overall financial performance.

There are many factors that can contribute to reputational risk, including negative media coverage, customer complaints, poor quality products or services, ethical breaches, and regulatory violations. These risks can have significant consequences for an organization, as they can damage the organization’s reputation and lead to financial losses.

To effectively manage reputational risk, it is important for organizations to have strong risk management processes in place to identify and assess potential risks to their reputation. This may involve implementing strategies to address customer complaints or negative media coverage, as well as establishing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with regulations and ethical standards.

In conclusion, reputational risk is a critical consideration for businesses, as it can have significant impacts on their reputation and financial performance. By effectively managing reputational risk, organizations can protect their reputation and maintain the trust and loyalty of their customers and employees. The following are a few examples of reputational risks.


A company finds an error in its accounting and need to restate its results for the past 2 years. The stock price crashes and the company loses all credibility with investors. They have difficulty raising capital and their cost of capital rises dramatically. The accounting scandal generates waves of negative publicity that result in a decline in sales.

Information Technology

A retailer experiences a security incident in which an attacker publishes their customer’s private information such as name, address and credit card details. They face lawsuits, regulatory inquiries and a severe drop in sales as customers close their accounts or avoid their website.


An electronics company releases a phone that gains a reputation for being easy to break. Sales and the value of the brand decline. The quality of the next model of phone improves but sales falter because the brand is widely viewed as cheap and unreliable.


An IT company wins a major contract to implement a new pension administration system for a government. The project comes in dramatically late and over budget. As a result, the company is effectively banned from further business with the government as news of the failed project is much talked about amongst the government’s senior administrators and leaders. The government also refuses to make final payment for the project resulting in years of legal wrangling and bad publicity.

Customer Service

A customer’s wheelchair is damaged in luggage handling by an airline. The airline has an inappropriate response that is recorded by the customer. The customer manages to get the public interested in the story and the airline suffers a loss of reputation. Sales on some of its most competitive routes decline and the airline is forced to further discount its prices.

Executive Management

An executive of a fashion company says something insulting about overweight customers while giving a television interview resulting in a customer backlash and declining sales.


A bank’s systems go down during a stock market crash and its customers can’t trade their stocks for several critical hours. The crash gains much publicity and regulators investigate the bank. The outage becomes a key selling point for competitors who claim to have more stable systems. Customers close their accounts and regulators impose fines.

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