According to PwC's Strategy& and CityUK’s A vision for a transformed world-leading industry 2017, public trust in the UK financial services industry is low and compares poorly with other international competitors and industries.
Our research has revealed similar issues – people don’t trust the financial services industry, they’re cynical, they don’t value or appreciate its economic contributions and they’re apathetic when it comes to choosing a provider. But the debate seldom moves on to how to address these issues.
“The citizens clearly told us that they wanted a conversation with a human face about complex products. The reason it’s interesting is because I see companies going in the opposite direction using technology and ways of working that are removing the need for a human interface.”
To understand and bring this to life for our clients, we worked with Britain Thinks to gather together a cross-section of 21 citizens from across the UK - broadly representative of the population as a whole - to take part in a ‘Citizens’ Jury’.
Over two days we asked them to discuss their views of the industry and its impact both on their own lives and on the UK as a whole. The participants were provided with time to absorb information, work with experts and discuss ideas and viewpoints among themselves. Through this process, they developed and refined a set of six informed recommendations for how the industry can rebuild trust and confidence among the general public. They then presented these to a panel of industry practitioners.
This forum provided an important opportunity for PwC’s teams to listen to and understand what the UK public really wants from the financial services sector. And we could then play those findings back to our clients, our people, the market, the government and regulators.
“For me, one of the most interesting points raised by the Jury was the idea of having a group of customers advise a company’s board. Retailers have had to be so close to their customers to understand their behaviours and banks have not got to that point yet. This highlights to me how you have to have a voice at the table with your customers.”
The debate and recommendations from our Citizens’ Jury demonstrate two things most clearly. First, the public continue to appreciate the contribution and long term value of the sector both to the UK economy and also to their own daily lives. Second, they are eager to engage with the industry to help improve that contribution still further.
Together, these two themes point to a need for an informed and open debate between all interested parties – customers, companies, regulators, industry bodies, policy makers – on the next steps needed to enhance the industry’s role and contribution to the UK from an economic and social perspective.
This debate needs to look at what these next steps forward will be and how they can best be brought about – and it should be supported by new conversations and research, together with close engagement between the industry and public.
Put simply, it’s time to talk – and then for the industry to act on the basis of what it hears. This is a debate that PwC is already helping to facilitate and helps us to bring alive our purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems.