Consumer trust in finance increases slightly: Edelman

NEW YORK: More consumers say they trust financial services institutions this year than was the case in 2011. However, the slight percentage increase still shows a high level of doubt about the industry, according to just-released findings from the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer.

NEW YORK: More consumers say they trust financial services institutions this year than was the case in 2011. However, the slight percentage increase still shows a high level of doubt about the industry, according to just-released findings from the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Last year, only 25% of respondents indicated that they trust financial services companies, compared with 46% in the 2012 data.

“I don't think financial services should take away a sense of victory in moving from 25% to 46% in terms of trust,” said Matt Harrington, US CEO at Edelman.

Harrington added that financial services institutions need to take action to improve their standing among consumers, such as simplifying their statements and corporate information, listening to consumers, providing feedback, and leveraging employees as credible brand spokespeople.

The survey revealed that only 31% of respondents who distrust financial services and banks are likely to believe information from a corporate source, but more than two-thirds of distrusting consumers believe information from traditional media and 64% trust company information on websites. Harrington explained that financial services companies provide information in complicated and highly structured context, making it difficult for consumers to understand their statements.

A previously released section of the study showed that trust in media rose 4% to 52% among informed consumers in 2012.

Harrington explained that social media platforms can benefit financial institutions because they allow companies to interact directly with consumers and answer their questions. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of survey participants said listening to customer needs and feedback is important when it comes to building greater trust for the future.

Consumer trust in regular employees as the most credible type of company spokesperson has risen significantly since last year, going from 23% in 2011 to 62% in 2012. Harrington said employees are resources that financial services companies should leverage, especially at retail operations, because they directly engage with customers.

Participants who say they don't trust financial services institutions ranked “a person like yourself” as the most credible company spokesperson at 68%, while respondents who trust the industry find technical experts to be the most credible at 80%.

The 12th annual Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed about 30,000 respondents online in two age groups, 25 to 34 and 35 to 64, in 25 countries from October 10 to November 30, 2011. Previous Trust Barometer data was released prior to the beginning of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

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