Banks showing improvement, despite slow consumer sentiment

The U.S. financial services and banking industries have taken quite a PR blow in recent years, as the global economic recession was caused in large part by a collapse of the financial system.

The U.S. financial services and banking industries have taken quite a PR blow in recent years, as the global economic recession was caused in large part by a collapse of the financial system.

However, the sector was also one of the quickest to recover from the downturn, and although challenges have persisted in recent months, new research suggests banks are emerging from the recession's grasp.

According to a survey released this week by accounting and consulting firm Crowe Horwath, banking salaries expanded by an average 2.4 percent this year over last. The study also found signs of improving turnover rates - which indicate greater job diversity and opportunities - and investment sales.

"Investment sales bonuses are based on activity in the stock market and that can come from buying or selling," said Timothy Reimink, a senior consultant in Crowe's Performance group. "In 2010, there was a rebound in stock activity and investment sales benefited from that."

Still, consumer sentiment remains a challenge. This week, a Bankrate study found 40 percent of American consumers have cut back on spending within the past 60 days due to dismal economic news and widespread uncertainty.