Should Business Lenders Care About Reputations?

By Charles H. Green

A couple of months ago I wrote about the disparaging lack of trust that the population has for the financial services industry, particularly banks, as determined by Gallup. More recently, I attended the annual presentation of Edelman’s Trust Barometer and found the results appear to be getting worse.

Edelman is a global communications firm whose interest in ‘trust’ goes to the heart of their Edelmanbusiness. You don’t listen to people you don’t trust. This year seems to be a bad year for ‘trust’ as the global population seems to be losing it in everyone from government (↓16 percent), media (↓9 percent), business (↓ 4 percent) and even NGOs (↓9 percent).

Globally, financial services fell from last year’s 53 percent trust benchmark down to 47 percent, whereas banks fell from 50 percent to 46 percent. These results were moderately better in the U.S.

Another startling discovery in the trust barometer was that online search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) match level of trust of ‘traditional media’ (65 percent) for the first time. As other sources of information continue to decline, search is rising as the leading source of validation.

An interesting distinction was pointed out between “trust” and “reputation.”

Reputation is the presumption of trustworthiness, which reflects how others feel about you today. But trust facilitates how they will act with – and for – you in the future. Meaning, your ongoing, evolving reputation forges the degree to which you can be trusted in the years ahead.

Social media and other digital interfaces like Yelp! are opening new avenues for the public to speak to each other to voice positive and negative information. As search engines become more trusted, will the public stop listening to the paid advertising in the traditional media? What are the implications from that change in building and maintaining reputations and trust?

For starters, why not Google yourself and see what can you find about your own reputation?



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