Time for more trust


Image courtesy of Terry Johnston

It’s been a rocky few years for financial services.

From the sub-prime mortgage scandal and ensuing credit crunch, the revelations about PPI mis-selling and dirty deals at the top of some of our most respected financial institutions, to the recent admission that many fund management companies were effectively over-charging their clients; it’s hardly surprising that public faith in financial companies appears to be an all-time low.

A recent report from PwC, How Financial Services lost its mojo, outlines the extent to which public dissatisfaction with the money men and women has become a defining characteristic of the age.

According to the report, which surveyed over 2000 adults in the UK, less than a third of people trust their bank, and only 15% trust investment banks. In fact, more than half of those surveyed said that their choice of bank was influenced by whether it operated in wholesale markets as well as the retail sector.

‘A plague on all your houses’ is the prevailing theme, with financial advisers and insurance providers being trusted by less than a third of consumers, You could almost begin to feel sorry for the poor fund managers who scrape a mere 12% in the trust stakes, if they hadn’t brought most of their problems on themselves.

So what can the industry do to repair its reputation? ‘Greater transparency on products and services’ is the biggest single factor, according to the PwC survey.  Or, to put it another way, just tell the truth.

With campaigning organisations for investors like the True and Fair campaign and sensibleinvesting.tv (funded by this firm) alongside consumer champions like moneysavingexpert.com, financial services customers are gradually seeing the scales fall from their eyes.

And with the recent addition of financial education to the school curriculum, maybe the next generation of investors and consumers won’t be such an easy target for the Wolves of Wall Street and the Square Mile.