Who can you trust?

Aug 21 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

With stories of identity theft and fraud hitting the press almost daily, consumers are more sensitive than ever to any hint of dishonesty or untrustworthiness in organisations they do business with – especially if these organisations are meant to be looking after their money.

So the revelation that a quarter of all job applications received by Britain's financial services employers contain at least one major discrepancy is going to do little to boost consumer confidence.

More surprising still, it is high earners taking home in excess of £80,000 ($140,000) a year who are most likely to lie in their applications get that plum job.

This picture of rampant dishonesty emerged from research into discrepancies on application forms commissioned by London-based pre-employment screening firm Powerchex.

Over a 6 month period, 2487 job applications for the financial services industry were fact-checked for discrepancies, embellishments and false information.

Employment histories, dates, university degrees, professional qualifications and criminal records were verified and checked against what candidates submitted when applying for jobs.

The checks found that a quarter of all financial services applicants have embellished job titles, extended dates or have falsified other key facts on their application forms.

"If honesty and integrity for staff in the nation's banks, insurance companies and financial institutions are paramount, then this research highlights the need for careful checking before a candidate starts work," said Powerchex's managing director Alexandra Kelly.

"Today more than ever, our institutions need to make sure they hire honest employees".

The research found that of the applicants who submit false background information, the most common discrepancy is their job title and duties. The second biggest is employment dates; most likely to cover up gaps in employment histories.

Thankfully, however, the least common inconsistency is criminal records, probably due to a high awareness of the ease of access to the criminal records database.

The research also revealed that British males are the most likely have discrepancies on their CVs, with almost four out of 10 (38%) of applications submitted by British men had at least one major false item.

But more surprisingly, having a high income does not preclude an applicant from lying. The income group with the largest amount of discrepancies were earning £80,000 to £90,000 per year.

The notion that older staff are more likely to be honest is also debunked. Those aged between 51 and 60 were found to have the most discrepancies on their application forms, although this could equally indicate that older workers feel the need to embellish in order to compete against their younger counterparts

"This shatters most people's perceptions on who is most likely to lie on their CV" says Kelly. "All the more reason to verify the background of all incoming candidates despite their nationality and income bracket."