Finance profession has lost public trust

2006

Pension firms and investment managers have overtaken estate agents, politicians and even traffic wardens to earn the ignominious accolade as the least trusted profession in Britain.

Asked by consumer analysts Mintel which groups out of 20 types of professionals would treat them fairly, British consumers gave finance professionals a resounding thumbs-down.

Pension companies were seen as behaving fairly by only seven per cent of those questioned, with investment managers languishing at the very bottom of the pile at four per cent along with traffic wardens (seven per cent), estate agents (five per cent) and politicians (four per cent).

Financial advisers were rated as trustworthy by only 12 per cent and insurance companies by 10 per cent, with accountants and lawyers seen as similarly low down the fairness league table.

Doctors emerged from the report, "Treating Customers Fairly: What is fair in the consumer's eye?", in the most positive light - indeed they were the only profession viewed as "fair" by more than half of those questioned.

Nevertheless, even the medical profession only received the thumbs-up from two-thirds of consumers.

But this was still a far higher figure than that for teachers (42 per cent), the police (36 per cent), charities (35 per cent) and supermarkets (30 per cent).

Banks received a 29 per cent fairness rating and building societies a 24 per cent score.

Paul Davies, Mintel's senior finance analyst, said: "When it comes to financial professions consumer perceptions regarding the fairness of pension companies and investment managers are exceptionally poor.

"And while banks and building societies seem to have a much fairer reputation the research would appear to be disappointing for the building society sector.

"Worryingly, only 21 per cent of consumers agree with the statement that 'financial companies are fair all of the time'," he added.

"While these findings do not prove that financial companies are treating their customers unfairly, they do highlight the fact that many consumers believe this to be the case."