A Trust Study commissioned by Yorkshire Building Society has revealed that the financial climate appears to be making the UK a less trustful place to live – with half of people not willing to trust their own partner or spouse with their money.
The major, independent research exercise examines how people’s attitudes and ability to trust are being affected by financial uncertainty. It shows that 34 per cent of people now feel the UK is a less trustful place than it was a year ago.
More than half of those questioned on behalf of the UK’s second-largest building society blamed the economic crisis for the decline, with 59 per cent saying money worries and financial security had had an impact while 56 per cent also pointed to high unemployment.
Public transgressions by people in positions of trust were cited by 54 per cent of those polled as one of the major reasons for declining trust within society.
Even on a more personal level we’re growing more cautious with the average person saying they have just six people in their lives they would trust. Furthermore, 70 per cent of us would not even trust our best friend with our secrets and one in eight (12 per cent) would not reveal all to anyone.
However, we do try hard to be good friends – with nine out of ten saying it was important to them to feel trusted and 92 per cent claiming to be trustworthy.
But despite our good intentions, more than a third (40 per cent) admit to breaking someone’s trust in the past year and one in five (20 per cent) in the past month.
Reassuringly, the majority of us (59 per cent) felt guilty as a result, but another 14 per cent ‘could not care less’ and claimed to feel indifferent.
Almost eight out of ten (77 per cent) admitted they could not forgive a friend who failed to repay a loan – only slightly less than the number who said they could not forgive someone who has had an affair (86 per cent). Five per cent of us would not trust anyone at all with our money.
For those still willing to trust others with money, the average amount they would lend a friend in financial need is £5,400. And while women are the fairer sex, it is men who are the most generous: men would be happy to lend twice as much as women – an average of £7,799.30 compared to £3,687.10.
It is clear the public feel trust is being eroded for a variety of reasons, one of which is the failings of the very people we look to in order to guide us through challenging times. Sadly, that includes the banking sector which has so often let people down.
As a mutual, things are different at the Yorkshire and we understand the importance of trust. We are owned by our members, our customers, and everything we do is aimed at building on the trust they place in us to act in their long-term interests.
At a time when trust is diminishing generally, we have retained the confidence of our members – our customer satisfaction rates are very strong, record numbers of savings accounts have been opened and we were recently selected by consumers as the most trusted savings provider in the UK.
Trust is a precious commodity – it takes a lot of time to build it and little time to lose it – and, as our survey shows, it takes a lot for people to forgive those who break their trust. We hope this research will help people to realise how trust has been undermined in the UK and take action to protect it.