Most Brits trust banks but don’t think they work in customers’ interests

Jake PalenicekHead of Custom Research, UK
May 19, 2017, 2:17 PM GMT+0

Although Britons have higher levels of trust in banks than many other Europeans, there is still widespread concern that they don’t work in consumers’ interest

It is almost ten years since the global financial crisis and it is safe to say that the intervening decade has been a bumpy one for many banks throughout the world. Our new International Omnibus study finds that that 55% of British people trust banks, which is a higher level than in any of the other European countries we surveyed. The data shows that 43% of people in Germany trust banks, 39% in France and just 37% in Italy.

But the data shows that Europeans are notably less positive in their views than many other countries around the world. In the United States and Australia, more than six in ten consumers trust banks (64% and 60% respectively). While in East Asian markets, levels of trust rise even further - 71% in Japan, 75% in Hong Kong and fully 89% in Thailand.

Below the surface, though, our research paints a more nuanced picture of British consumers’ feelings towards banks. In good news for financial institutions, we find that two thirds (67%) have confidence that banks they use are competent and know what they are doing. This is similar to both Germany (66%) and Italy (65%) and well ahead of France (57%), but it is below the levels found in the US (74%) and Australia (71%).

However, a decade on from the crash many consumers are still highly sceptical towards banks’ motives. Just 36% of British consumers trust banks to work in their customers' best interests, while more than half (55%) don’t. This is around the same proportions as in Germany (35% versus 57%). Yet in Italy (30%/64%), France (29%/62%) and Japan (27%/65%), the scepticism is higher still.

While Britons are better disposed towards financial institutions than many other European consumers, the levels of mistrust in this country are still high in comparison to much of the rest of the world. And although most people believe banks are competent and know what they are doing, large swathes of the public – especially in European nations – are still cynical about their motives.

Find out more about YouGov's International Omnibus research

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