The Client-centred Blog

Why regulation will never improve the public’s trust in Financial Services (and what can)

Most people I come across in Financial Services are caring, dedicated and highly professional people who do great work for their clients.

On top of this a great many of those, like you, continually strive to improve and I have huge respect for this because it takes time, effort and is arduous as well as rewarding.

But there is also another side to Financial Services.

According to the highly respected Edelman Trust Barometer, Financial Services continues to be the lowest trusted business sector, both globally and in the UK.

This has consistently been the case for an awfully long time.

We could spend a lot of time debating why trust is so low, but far more important is that it changes, right?

So, here is a question:

What would it take for Financial Services to become the most trusted business sector in the eyes of the public rather than the least?

The sector is very heavily regulated and yet, as the statistics seem to demonstrate, trust has not risen in light of this.


Some time ago I watched a short clip of the actor Denzel Washington answering a journalist on the question of race relations. You can watch the clip here (1m12s).

For me, he absolutely nails it when he says:

“You can’t legislate love.”

As I have written about several times before, there are only two basic human emotions.

Love or Fear.

One thing is that is true is that when we live from a place of love, we do not intentionally harm other people. When we feel secure within ourselves, we would not even think of lining own pocket at the expense of others.

People (and therefore organisations) who harm other people are doing so from feelings of fear. This is not to make it acceptable in any way; it is a statement of fact.

Being bright and clever does not make you secure. If we cast our minds back to the financial crisis of 2007/8 there were many people in senior positions in global organisations, who were very clever, and who also showed no regard for the welfare of their clients, their profession and the wider system.

The feeling that was behind this behaviour was fear (greed is a form of fear).

In the years since I do not believe this has changed much, if at all.

Regulation, despite good intentions and seemingly necessary, is not designed to, nor is capable of changing people’s internal state from fear to love.

I remember Richard Bandler (true genius and co-creator of neuro-linguistic programming) being asked how we can change the world, so it works for everyone and not just some people.

Typical of Richard his answer was one of absolute clarity when he replied:
“One person at a time.”

To me, one person at a time means I start with me.

How am I showing up today?

Am I showing up from a place of love or fear?

When we see what we think is wrong with things and feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, guilty, or discouraged this does not help.

Just as you cannot fight fire with fire, you cannot transcend fear through fear.

You can also never under-estimate the transformational power of the inside-out understanding.

I read a book called ‘Modello’ by Jack Pransky. In 2001 it won the Martin Luther King Storytellers Award for the book best exemplifying Dr. King’s vision of “the beloved community.”

Modello was a housing project in Florida beset with severe individual and social problems. Murder, drugs, gangs, fighting in the street, truancy, shootings, teenage pregnancy, robbery and more occurred daily.

Long story short, Dr. Roger Mills, even though he was initially regarded with suspicion and not wanted in the project by many people saw hope. He knew that deep inside people were psychologically healthy, resilient and could solve their own problems.

Through his vision, clarity of mind and resilience he slowly began to get the attention of a small number of influential residents and it all began from there.

In a three-year period, the turnaround was beyond what anyone (other than Dr. Mills) could have ever imagined. The murder rate went to zero. The drug dealers were run out by the residents. There were significant reductions in all the other problem areas.

What would it take for Financial Services to become the most trusted business sector in the eyes of the public rather than the least?

As Denzel Washington says in the video clip:
“It’s up to us.”

Things change when enough people want them to change. They change when the collective consciousness rises. How does this happen?

One person at a time. Look within.

P.S. If you want to see what one person can do then a brilliant example is Andy Agathangelou. He founded ‘The Transparency Task Force, which is gathering increasing momentum as a force for good in Financial Services. Click here.

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.