Editor's comment: The feeling's mutual

According to the latest instalment of McCann Erickson's Moodier Britain survey, 50% of people have little trust in banks. A quarter don't trust them at all.

Well, no one in financial services is under any illusions about popularity; if anything, they are likely to think the reality is worse than this research suggests. Last week's Marketing Financial Forum in Chepstow provided a great chance to hear some opinions about how financial brands can communicate during a recession. There was a unanimous view that the high-profile collapse of banks and well-documented bail-outs have meant that trust has gone from the sector, and is very unlikely to return for a while.

Some of the delegates pointed out that, while headlines may talk about trust in banking being eroded, this is nothing new. Consumers, they say, have never trusted banks - rather, they have long tended to view them as a necessary evil.

That aside, financial-services brands have to maintain marketing, whatever the climate. The best the traditional big banks - which have had their corporate reputations hauled across the coals - can hope to do is regain some respect. However, recession does present opportunity for one area of the industry: the mutuals.

According to Moodier Britain, consumers are gravitating toward brands that think small. They feel reassured by companies whose values and attitudes are local, personal, authentic and accessible. Often overlooked, mutuals, which have not had the benefit of big campaigns, pretty much tick all those boxes. If some could agree to come together for a joint marketing campaign to push the 'mutual message', it would be a real success. Consumers need to be reminded of their services, and being able to sell reliability and trust could cut through the banking disaster headlines.

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