BEIJING — The majority of Chinese consumers – 83% – have a positive perception of the financial services industry — but it’s the institutions that they trust, not the people who work in the business, a new study has found.

According to North Head's report into the reputation of the finance business in China, consumers do not think highly of bankers, and their reputation ranks lower than police, lawyers, journalists and government officials.

This was mirrored by respondents' views of particular segments of the financial industry, as the businesses that rely heavily on individuals, such as accountants, insurers and asset managers, are viewed less favorably than those that don’t.

Nearly all – 96% – of consumers, for instance, said they view payment systems favorably, while 87% give high marks to banking and 83% to credit cards. Venture capital, however, has the trust of just 60% of consumers, and just 52% believe in private equity, the study found.

Fintech, however, earned high marks from Chinese consumers, 90% of whom believe digital financial services are as trustworthy as traditional ones, if not more: 83% of respondents think that fintech companies are reputable, versus 70% of consumers in Singapore or Hong Kong.

The research also found that Chinese consumers under 35 have more positive views about financial services than their peers elsewhere, while the opposite is true for those aged 40 and over; data security is their top financial services-related concern; and transparency and customer service are the biggest drivers of companies’ reputations.

North Head recommended companies take action to dispel distrust among consumers — or put themselves, and their industries, at risk for disruption. For financial services, that includes providing assurances of data security, transparency in communications and messaging tailored for different segments of the population.