Financial Execs: We Don't Believe You

Last Updated May 18, 2010 2:20 PM EDT

Considering the rampant fraud that triggered the financial crisis -- not to mention a steady stream of new revelations about sneaky deals on Wall Street -- it's probably not a surprise that Americans have little trust in financial services concerns, no matter whether they're banks, credit card companies or investment firms.

Harris Interactive surveyed some 2,755 individuals asking them how much they believed the statements coming out of banks, mortgage companies, credit card companies, investment firms, accounting firms health insurance companies and the government agencies that regulate financial institutions. Only 2% to 5% said they found statements made by any of these groups to be "completely believable."

The least believable of the lot were credit card companies, which were scored "not at all believable" by 64% of those surveyed. Next worst? The government agencies that regulate financial services concerns. Some 53% of those surveyed said they were not at all believable.

Accounting firms fared the best with 62% of those surveyed saying that they found them at least "somewhat" believable.

Other noteworthy findings?

Baby boomers are far more cynical than their kids. Echo Boomers (ages 18-33) found credit card companies "not believable" 56% of the time, while 69% of Baby Boomers (ages 46-64) said you couldn't trust what credit card companies said.

Likewise only 35% of Echo Boomers distrusted government agencies regulating financial services companies, while 59% of Baby Boomers said they couldn't be trusted. To add to that disturbing trendline, 64% of "Matures" (those age 65 and over) didn't believe the regulators.

Mortgage companies? Echo Boomers distrusted them 39% of the time, while their parents distrusted them 57% of the time and their grandparents distrusted them 58% of the time.

The pattern here: The more experience you have with these companies, the less you trust them.

When it comes to banks, health insurance companies and investment firms, Baby Boomers are the most cynical, but their parents aren't far behind. The most trusting are the Echo Boomers. Roughly 74% of Echo Boomers find accountants at least "somewhat" believable and 72% said they could somewhat trust banks. Investment banks? Just 64% ranked them even somewhat believable. And even among this group of young believers, credit card companies couldn't scare up much respect. Just 44% of Echo Boomers ranked them even somewhat believable.

Do you believe these companies? If not, why not?

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