Very Few Americans Find Statements by Financial Institutions Completely Believable

New York, N.Y. – May 18, 2010 – Through the recent financial crisis, the various institutions that make up the financial world have all been hit in one way or another for not being there for their customers. It’s no surprise then that very few Americans (between 2% and 5%) say they find statements completely believable if made by a spokesperson for one of these types of companies.

Majorities of Americans find statements by spokespersons from accounting firms (62%), banks (57%), and investment firms (52%) somewhat believable.

These are some of the findings of a new Harris Poll® survey of 2,755 U.S. adults, surveyed online between April 12 and 19, 2010.

On the other hand, almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they find statements made by a spokesperson from a credit card company not at all believable. Majorities say the same about statements made by spokespersons for both government agencies that regulate financial institutions (53%) and mortgage companies (51%). Health insurance companies divide people, as just under half (49%) say they would find a statement by one of their spokespeople somewhat believable and 49% would find it not at all believable.

Generational Differences

Echo Boomers, those aged 18-33, are across the board more likely to find statements made by these companies more believable than older generations. Three-quarters of Echo Boomers (74%) find statements made by accounting firms to be believable (completely or somewhat) compared to 63% of Gen Xers (those aged 34-45). Almost two-thirds of the youngest generation (65%) says they find statements by the government agencies that regulate financial institutions to be believable. Compare this with 43% of Gen Xers, 41% of Baby Boomers (those aged 46-64) and 36% of Matures (those aged 65 and older) who say the same.

Partisan Differences

Republicans and Democrats have some differences over how believable they find statements by those in the financial world. Seven in ten Democrats (70%) and two-thirds of Independents (66%) say they do not find any statement by credit card companies to be believable compared to 56% of Republicans who say the same. Two-thirds of Republicans (65%) say they do not find statements made by government agencies that regulate financial institutions to be believable compared to 40% of Democrats who say this.

So What?

The issue here is one of trust. It takes a long time for any industry to build up the levels of trust that help them weather crises when they occur. And since this crisis is one that negatively impacts people’s wallets, trust will erode even more quickly and take much longer to rebuild. That is what these financial companies have to undertake right now.

 

TABLE 1

STATEMENTS MADE BY FINANCIAL COMPANIES

Generally speaking, how believable do you normally find statements made by someone who works for one of these companies?

Base: All adults

Believable (NET)

Completely Believable

Somewhat Believable

Not at all Believable

%

%

%

%

Accounting firms

67

5

62

33

Banks

62

4

57

38

Investment firms

55

2

52

45

Health insurance companies

51

2

49

49

Mortgage companies

49

2

47

51

Government agencies that regulate financial institutions

47

4

43

53

Credit card companies

36

2

34

64

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

STATEMENTS MADE BY FINANCIAL COMPANIES – NOT BELIEVABLE

Generally speaking, how believable do you normally find statements made by someone who works for one of these companies?

Summary of those who say Not at all believable

Base: All adults

Total

Generation

Party ID

Echo Boomers (18-33)

Gen. X (34-45)

Baby Boomers (46-64)

Matures (65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Credit card companies

64

56

68

69

64

56

70

66

Government agencies that regulate financial institutions

53

35

57

59

64

65

40

58

Mortgage companies

51

39

53

57

58

42

57

52

Health insurance companies

49

41

52

54

48

36

56

53

Investment firms

45

36

49

50

48

38

50

45

Banks

38

28

40

45

40

30

44

39

Accounting firms

33

26

37

36

33

26

38

31

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

STATEMENTS MADE BY FINANCIAL COMPANIES – BELIEVABLE

Generally speaking, how believable do you normally find statements made by someone who works for one of these companies?

Summary of those who say Completely believable or Somewhat believable

Base: All adults

Total

Generation

Party ID

Echo Boomers (18-33)

Gen. X (34-45)

Baby Boomers (46-64)

Matures (65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Accounting firms

67

74

63

64

67

74

62

69

Banks

62

72

60

55

60

70

56

61

Investment firms

55

64

51

50

52

62

50

55

Health insurance companies

51

59

48

46

52

64

44

47

Mortgage companies

49

61

47

43

42

58

43

48

Government agencies that regulate financial institutions

47

65

43

41

36

35

60

42

Credit card companies

36

44

32

31

36

44

30

34

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 12 and 19, 2010 among 2,755 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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The Harris Poll® #66, May 18, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, Director The Harris Poll