Bankers 'don't want to learn any lessons' as world trust increases

The results are out from the latest Edelman 'Trust Barometer', showing that trust in general has risen, although the financial sector continues to suffer public opprobrium...

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
It’s been a turbulent year, what with banks fined for PPI mis-selling, the Libor scandal, the Leveson Inquiry, and a legion of MPs keen to make their name by being on some committee or other to grill company bosses. But despite all that, the latest global survey to find out just how much we all trust each other, our governments and the world’s companies has shown a positive upward trend.

In the survey, which questions 31,000 consumers in 26 countries aged 25-64, the ‘trustworthiness’ for each of government, business, NGOs and media increased in 2012. Despite the reputational damage done to the financial sector in 2012 with various scandals, trust in general business increased 5% with a total of 58% of respondents saying the trust business to do what is right.

The survey suggested that the ‘stain’ of scandal in the financial sector was ‘spreading to other business’, and pointed out that banking is the only specific industry not to have climbed the trust rankings at all since 2008. All other industries have improved their standing amongst global consumers.

Panel members at the event in Victoria, London, where the results were announced, engaged in lively debate about which types of companies and individuals were still struggling to gain public trust, even if their industry’s situation is improving.

The global head of Edelman, Richard Edelman, pointed out that the culture of banking is something that needs to change tangibly before the consumer will trust bankers more. He said: ‘Bankers are evaluated simply by metrics, and that’s not good enough anymore.’

Managing editor of FT.com, Robert Shrimsley, added: ‘It is the case with some in the financial sector that they do not want to learn any lessons from the last few years.’

Government climbed by the same percentage, from 43% to 48%, and Lord Strathclyde, formerly leader of the House of Lords, said that  ‘politicians need to sloganise less’. Sounds suspiciously like a slogan to us, Strathers.

Trust in the media climbed by 5% from 52% to 57%, suggesting that despite the Leveson Inquiry and the phone-hacking scandal, we hacks are managing to salvage a slightly better reputation than we had at the height of the scandal in 2011. As several members of the panel pointed out, it was actually journalists who broke the story of the phone-hacking scandal in the first place.

Still, whilst the increases can only be an improvement, this leaves 42% (in the business category, for example) of consumers who do not trust businesses to do the right thing. There's obviously a long way to go...


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