Show Us The Money

Why don’t people trust bankers?

Source: Gallup

In a survey of how people rate the honesty of folks in different lines of work, medical professionals came out on top; members of Congress and car dealers were on the bottom. Bankers, lawyers, and journalists were pretty much in the middle. Confidence in financial professionals took a big hit after the latest financial crisis and Madoff scandal, as it did after the S&L crisis of the early ‘90s.

Few people have experienced real losses when it comes to banking—as opposed to investing in the stock market. (Stockbrokers—as opposed to bankers—have a very low approval rating.) So their low opinion of bankers isn’t based on experience. Rather, it’s a matter of their public profile. But the professions that are rated highest—doctors, teachers, clergy—are ones where we remember a positive experience. Conversely, the lowest-rated jobs are ones where people have been personally swindled. Maybe we were laid off by an incoming business executive who then collected a fat bonus. Or that fancy car I just bought turned out to be a lemon.

Bob Hope once quipped that a bank is a place that will lend you money–if you can prove you don’t need it. Money may be a necessary evil, but we need to trust those who keep our cash. For people to trust a profession, they have to benefit personally. For bankers and finance professionals to improve their public image, it has to be more about the client, and less about the money.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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