Views on improving the integrity of global capital markets
28 February 2017

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Shows Overall Decline, But Financial Services Improves

The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, released in January 2017, reported broad decline in trust by the general public across the four institutions it looks at: government, business, media, and non-government organizations (NGOs). Trust in media fell to an all-time low in 17 countries and trust in government dropped to 41% from 42%. Today, government is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries surveyed.

Although trust was down in the four broad institutions, the ranking by the general public actually increased in individual business industries, as shown in the following charts. Survey respondents are asked to indicate how much they trust businesses in the listed industries to do what is right. Technology remains the most trusted industry, with 75% of respondents indicating they do trust the industry. And although Financial Services remains at the bottom of the trust ranking, the trend over the past six years is positive. Financial Services has increased its trust score by 11 pps (percentage points) since 2012. This increase is double the rate of increase for the other industries except for Energy, which increased by nine percentage points in the same time frame.

Note: The trust level breakouts by industry were not included in the initial report, but upon request, Edelman provided CFA Institute with the applicable data collected in their survey.
Note: The trust level breakouts by industry were not included in the initial report, but upon request, Edelman provided CFA Institute with the applicable data collected in their survey.

It’s the Economy, Or Is It?

The positive results of many market indices may be bolstering the trust values. According to CNN Money, the best stock market performance for 2016 came from markets in regions around the world.

2016 Percentage Gains
RTS Index (Russia)


Merval Index (Argentina)


Bovespa Index (Brazil)


All-Share Index (Norway)


TSX Composite Index (Canada)


Stock Market Index (Indonesia)


FTSE 100 Index (United Kingdom)


Dow Jones Industrial Average (United States)


Source: Based on data from Alanna Petroff, “The Best (and Worst) Stock Markets of 2016,” CNNMoney (30 December 2016):

But according to the Edelman results, there are still clear gaps when looking at trust building attributes ranked by survey respondents. In the following chart, the blue bars indicate the level of importance respondents placed on the individual attributes. The green bars show how frequently those attributes are being observed in practice.

Just as improvements were observed in the trust of individual industries, the gaps between what is important and performance narrowed in the 2017 results, as shown in the following chart. The narrowing was created through improved observed performance and not a decrease in importance. So it appears that firms are hearing the message that how they conduct their business is important to clients.

Trust-Building Attributes

To Increase Trust, Demonstrate a Commitment to Ethics and Integrity

The report outlines a new operating model for these institutions. Those in authority can no longer make decisions “for the people.” Today, the report calls for authority to work “with the people” by considering all stakeholders in the decision-making process.

At CFA Institute, we are seeing firms demonstrate a commitment to holding the interests of clients as paramount through steady submissions of claims of compliance with the CFA Institute Asset Manager Code and the Global Investment Performance Standards. The numbers continue to grow of globally recognized firms and individually owned and operated advisory businesses committing to these standards that promote transparency and ethical practices. And each year, compliant firm’s review elements of their compliance policies and procedures to be sure they remain in compliant. The process also requires employees to engage in some form of code of conduct review or training.

Consider becoming the next firm to align its procedures with these globally recognized standards. That commitment may well provide the guidance needed for an employee that faces an unanticipated ethical dilemma.

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Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/trekandshoot

About the Author(s)
Glenn Doggett, CFA

Glenn Doggett, CFA, was a director of professional standards for CFA Institute. His responsibilities included providing member guidance in applying the ethics and standards of practice policies, supporting related educational and public awareness activities, and working with the Standards of Practice Council of CFA Institute on its initiatives. He was a co-host of the free, live, interactive webinars used by CFA Institute to promote ethical decision making and global best practices. Previously, Mr. Doggett, as a member of the CFA Institute Financial Reporting Policy Group, represented membership interests regarding reporting and disclosures initiatives, including XBRL. Prior to joining CFA Institute, he worked in the financial information sector with SNL Financial, where he focused on the real estate and energy industries, directing the development and maintenance of a financial data storage system. Mr. Doggett holds a BA in economics from the University of Virginia. He was awarded the CFA charter in 2006 and is a member of CFA Society Virginia.

4 thoughts on “2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Shows Overall Decline, But Financial Services Improves”

  1. Chase says:

    Would you mind sharing where you located the 2017 results by sector? Couldn’t locate on the Edelman site.

    1. Glenn Doggett says:

      Thank you for the question.

      After the initial report was released, I contacted Edelman through its website requesting the information. The table displays the current year data for the following in their survey.
      (Source: 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Q45-429. Please indicate how much you trust businesses in each of the following industries to do what is right. Again, please use the same nine-point scale where one means that you “do not trust them at all” and nine means that you “trust them a great deal”. (Top 4 Box, Trust) General Population, 25-country global total.)

      You can submit a question to Edelman from this webpage:

      Glenn Doggett

      1. david richmond says:

        Hey are the stats Edelman gave you global or US specific?

  2. Glenn Doggett says:

    Thank you for the question.

    The Edelman data represents the General Population results from 25 different countries surveyed. More information is available on the Edelman website:

    Glenn Doggett

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