Financial services and banks were the least-trusted industries for the third year, with half of people surveyed saying they could be trusted to do what's right, according to an annual poll by public relations firm Edelman.
The numbers improved from 45 percent who trusted financial companies in the survey released last year and 47 percent who trusted banks. Technology companies topped the ranking again with 77 percent, down two percentage points from a year earlier, according to the poll of the so-called informed public ages 25 to 64 in 20 countries.
Institutions were more trusted overall this year and the reputation of business continued to surpass government. The portion of the informed public who said they trust business climbed to 58 percent from 53 percent a year ago, while trust in government rose to 48 percent from 43 percent, the survey found. The share who said they trusted business "a great deal" was 17 percent, the same as for government, according to the online poll, which surveyed 4,600 people in October and November.
The countries with the highest proportion of people who said they trusted business were Mexico, at 82 percent, and India, at 81 percent. Those with the lowest trust were South Korea, at 31 percent, and Russia, at 40 percent, the survey found.
In the U.S., 62 percent said they trusted business to do the right thing, compared with 53 percent who said they felt the same about government. In the U.K., business garnered 56 percent and government got 47 percent, according to the survey.
Trust in banks was below 50 percent in two-thirds of the markets surveyed. In the U.S., the percentage of the informed public who said they trust banks has risen to 49 percent from 25 percent two years ago, although it's still below the 69 percent who said they trusted banks in 2008. The lowest percentages expressing trust in banks were 11 percent in Ireland, 19 percent in Spain and 22 percent in the U.K., the survey found.
Edelman defines the "informed public" as college-educated people in the top 25 percent of household income for their age group in their country who report having significant engagement in business news and public policy. That group is a good indication of where "informed opinion" is heading, according to Edelman.
Banks and financial service companies were also the least trusted among the broader general public surveyed by Edelman, the poll found.
The Financial Times reported the survey's results earlier on its website. Edelman releases the Trust Barometer survey results annually at the start of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
--Editors: Steven Crabill, Dan Kraut
To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harper in New York at charperbloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheerbloomberg.net