Life insurers share the same level of consumer trust as credit card companies and a lower level than banks and building societies, a university study suggests.
According to the Financial Services Research Forum's 2009 Trust Index, produced by Nottingham University Business School, life insurance firms score 72.69, only marginally above credit card companies' 71.55.
Brokers/advisers (81.67) receive the highest ratings on trust and trustworthiness, followed by investment companies (76.24), general insurers (75.98) building societies (75.22) and banks (73.96).
However, the survey suggests consumer trust in the financial services industry remains remarkably robust despite the banking crisis and global recession.
With an average trust rating of 75.02, financial services institutions (FSIs) beat the likes of the NHS and the BBC.
"It may be an inconvenient truth, but the reality is trust in the financial services industry is not at rock bottom," Professor Nigel Waite, director of the Financial Services Research Forum, says.
"However, evidence showing that current conditions have not provoked a 'crisis of trust' is not grounds for complacency."
Waite says the results of the 2009 Trust Index, which is based on 1,400 consumer interviews, should suggest to the authorities excessive regulation may not be necessary.
"Enduring relationships must be founded on high levels of trust," he says. "Significant levels of consumer trust do exist, which should serve as a foundation on which to alleviate the current economic crisis."
An ambitious objective
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'Illusion of control'
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Total investment reaches £9m