In Brands We Trust

Richard Nolan

Operations Director

The Financial Services Forum

Emotional engagement with financial brands means knowing that they’ll do what’s best for the customer, not the bottom line.GEORGE SHEPHERD and PHILIPPA ANDERSON explore how to
rebuild customer confidence.
Depending on how old they are, British consumers have suffered up to five downturns in the last century: two between the wars, one as a result of the 1973 oil shock, an early eighties recession when Mrs Thatcher got to grips with trade unions and finally, one in the early nineties, when the Gulf War caused another sharp rise in the price of oil.
Since then, not withstanding the dotcom ‘blip’, there has been, pretty much, a clear run of 16 years consumer boom, during which, amongst other things, we got fat while we watched grossly overpaid footballers, bought more expensive things than we could conceivably need, talked about our property portfolios ad nauseam and trashed the environment by regularly jetting off for winter sun. For all of that, there were many people and institutions that we came not to trust: footballers to stay abstemious for a start, but politicians to act with integrity, the church to behave with moral probity, the banks to act prudently with our hard-earned cash.Trust is at an all time low.
Trust me I’m a banker!
In the current economic turmoil, jauntily renamed ‘the credit crunch’, it is hardly surprising that there is an attitude of skepticism towards even the most hitherto highly regarded financial services institutions.This lack of trust will lead inevitably to long-term changes in the way that consumers engage with investments, savings, pensions and insurance. In a recent report, the FSA observes that, although the current climate has led many to review their finances, there is significant risk of long-term mistrust of financial products and the companies that sell them.
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