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Uh-Oh! Trust in Financial Providers Has Declined
Since 1994, MacroMonitor has asked about households' trust in financial institutions and intermediaries. To ensure that this measurement is easy for respondents to answer and comparable year to year, we ask about each type of institution and intermediary using a three-point response scale: "Do you trust [insert institution or intermediary type] a great deal, some, or hardly any?" The figure below shows the result when we combine any mention of "trust a great deal" for any type of institution or financial professional.
Not surprisingly, the overall level of trust in both financial institutions and intermediaries declined from the mid-1990s to the post-dot-com bust. Trust in institutions remained relatively the same during the "Uh-ohs" (2000–09) but slowly declined for financial professionals. However, in the first postrecession measurement, the proportion of households that trust any financial institution or intermediary "a great deal" has dropped significantly from 2008.
To understand the implications of the change in trust fully, we must look at the trends in the individual types of institutions and intermediaries. Further, we should explore trust trends by demographic groups, life-stage cohorts, and goals and needs, filtered by ranges of investable assets or debt. For example, for households with $250,000 to $1.9 million in financial assets, trust in accountants, CPAs, financial planners, bankers and credit-union officers, insurance agents, full-service and discount stockbrokers, mutual fund representatives, and lawyers has declined between 2008 and 2010. Trust in financial planners shows the smallest decline. However, for households with financial assets of $2 million or more, the proportion that trust financial planners remains the same in 2010 as it did in 2008. Trust in full-service stockbrokers is also statistically the same.
Trust trends demonstrate that all financial providers face a stiff headwind when offering their services.
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