LONDON — Public trust in the financial services sector has reached its highest level since 2012, according to new research from Edelman Smithfield, supplementing the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

The 2024 ‘Edelman Trust Barometer Supplemental Report: Insights for the Financial Services Sector’ shows 62% of respondents globally trust financial services companies to “do the right thing,” a four-point increase from last year and, for the first time, narrowly earning the industry a rank in the “Trusted” category (60% or more).

Globally, trust in the financial services sector now ranks at an all-time high in just over half of the countries surveyed. Edelman Smithfield CEO Lex Suvanto said: “While financial services has made great strides in trust levels over the last decade, the industry still has a long way to go to reach solid footing in trusted territory.

“To do so will require companies to execute trust building communications strategies about how they are improving financial well-being and creating stronger financial systems, and ensure that is effectively conveyed to their key stakeholders.”

The research uncovers a divide between developing and developed markets’ views on the financial services industry. Levels of trust are highest in India (83%) and Thailand (81%), and Nigeria and Colombia saw double-digit growth in levels of trust compared to last year.

However, financial services companies are still distrusted in most of the G7 countries, with scores of under 50% in Germany and Spain (both 41%), France (45%), Japan (47%), Italy (44%) and the UK (49%). Financial services is in the “neutral” trust bracket in North America, with 55% in the US and 59% in Canada.

The report also found that high-income individuals are 12 points more trusting in the financial services sector than people on lower-incomes, and while more women now trust financial services companies, with a score of 60%, four points up on last year, they are still less trusting than men, whose trust in the sector is at 63%.

In addition, younger generations have greater levels of trust in financial services than older respondents; individuals in the 18-34 age bracket are nine points more trusting than those aged 55 and over.

Now in its 24th year, the Edelman Trust Barometer polls more than 32,000 people in 28 countries. The overall 2024 report found that business remains the only trusted institution (63%), in comparison to NGOs (59%), government (51%) and media (50%).