Financial services companies play a large and varied role in consumers’ lives—from the safekeeping of their paychecks, to the growth of a nest egg, the protection of their assets or the movement and management of their money.

As such, they rank among the industries in which trust is the most important, second only to health care companies. Roughly 2 in 5 U.S. adults selected the financial service industry as a sector in which trust is most important to them.

But, financial services itself is a broad term, and not one that all consumers readily associate with all its diverse subcategories—banks, credit unions, insurance, investment and payments providers, to name a few—nor does most industry-level data provide actionable insights for leaders.

So, for the first time ever, Morning Consult asked U.S. consumers how much they trust the financial services industry overall, as well as some of the different types of companies that comprise it, why they trust them and what could potentially break that trust.

Morning Consult asked 4,400 U.S. adults about how much they trust banks and credit unions, investment and wealth management firms, insurance companies (auto, home and life) and payments providers (including credit card companies), and what is important in their decision to trust or purchase from one financial services company over another.

What we found was surprising, and important for financial services leaders to know: Although consumers generally said they trust banks and credit unions more than investments, insurance or payments providers, the same qualities are important to consumers’ trust in and purchase consideration of these different types of institutions, and largely to the same degree. Namely, the importance of protecting customers’ data stands out amongst all categories as paramount to engendering trust and making purchase decisions.

Respondents were asked how much they trust different industries compared to a year ago

Consumers’ trust in financial services has ticked down in the past year, although not as much as other industries.

The pandemic marked the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, with millions of Americans experiencing deep uncertainty in their income or disruptions to their financial health. Many looked to their financial services providers for protection and stability, and some found it: 13% of U.S. adults said their trust of financial services companies had grown in the past year. But another 17% said it had declined, creating a net drop of 4 percentage points.


When it comes to the most trusted financial services brands, payments providers dominate.

The dominance of payments providers on Morning Consult’s inaugural list of Most Trusted Financial Services brands should be a wake-up call to all financial services providers, but mostly for banks and investment or wealth management advisors who have built their brand on creating in-person relationships and strong connections with local communities. As the nature of relationships in financial services is changing, so is the nature of trust, and which companies receive it.

Payments providers such as Visa, PayPal and MasterCard have inherently more transactional relationships with customers and yet still garner high net trust, versus banks or insurance providers that emphasize the value of personal relationships. Credit Karma, one of the true FinTechs on the list, empowers consumers to make better decisions on their own, as opposed to with “trusted advisors” who are the cornerstone of traditional financial services relationships.

In fact, payments providers have long held the public’s trust, per Morning Consult Brand Intelligence: Americans’ net trust for the payments providers on the list of top 15 most trusted financial services brands was first calculated at 38 points in April 2018, and has remained in the high-30s since.

As financial services pivots to a more digital-first approach to building and maintaining relationships, brick-and-mortar institutions that traditionally built trust through in-person, face-to-face relationships may be at a disadvantage. A brand doesn’t need a personal relationship with a consumer to engender trust.

Up Next: The Current State of Consumer Trust

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