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New campaign pushes code of conduct for financial services
Shane Mullins is hoping that his Question of Trust campaign can build confidence in the wake of decades of scandals.
by Michelle McGagh on Jul 10, 2012 at 15:01
Getting consumers to trust financial services is an uphill struggle following decades of mis-selling scandals, not to mention Barclays' fixing of inter-bank lending rates.
But one group of financial services companies is hoping to do just that with a new campaign: Question of Trust.
The initiative was started by Shane Mullins, managing director of independent financial advice firm Fiscal Engineers, and it aims to get large financial institutions to commit to developing and operating with a culture that promotes consumer trust.
A question of trust
The Question of Trust campaign intends to unify financial services companies, from small broker firms to life and insurance giants, and sign up to a code or level of standards which puts the consumer at the heart of what they do.
This includes the development of a baseline measure of trust, called the Money Trust Index, which was developed by the Financial Services Research Forum at the University of Nottingham.
The campaign will then make ongoing recommendations on how trust can be improved across the industry.
Mullins said: 'If we are to change we need to build a culture of doing the right thing within the industry.'
A call for change
Mullins added that financial services companies have been driven by profit targets, shareholder demands and bonuses rather than the best outcome for consumers.
'For far too long the industry has held a mask up to itself instead of a mirror. Certain executives have been accused of managing their share options rather than their businesses, and some political leaders of managing their reputations rather than the real interests of the country,' he said.
'We need root-cause action right across the industry, coupled with strength of leadership and a commitment to take the long view to change things for the better.'
The campaign is hoping to tackle the vulnerability consumers feel when purchasing financial products, which are often difficult to understand. The complex nature of financial products breeds the need for more trust, and without trust consumers will be unwilling to engage with their finances.
Consequently if consumers do not trust and engage with their finances they will be unprepared for financial shocks they may experience, such as illness or redundancy. It could also mean they are unprepared for retirement.
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