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By Melanie Tringham | Published Jan 26, 2012

Firing Line: Shane Mullins

Consumers may feel they have been badly let down by the banks, but the lack of trust everywhere is endemic, according to Shane Mullins.

The founder and managing director of Nottingham-based Fiscal Engineers is so disheartened by the lack of trust and principle in financial services, that he is planning to do something about it.

He is launching a campaign with the Institute of Financial Planning and Financial Adviser to devise some standards for financial services firms to adhere to, in a bid to bring back some common decency into the industry.

He said: “Trust is an asset that people will pay a price for. The essence of the business is founded on the strength of its promise.

One of the biggest problems is that the industry is very “left-brain” focused. He said: “We have some people who are very technical and good at financial planning, but they have low levels of emotional intelligence.”

Mr Mullins wants to work with the IFP to devise a series of metrics to help advisers and financial services firms in general improve their relationships with their clients.

He said: “It is a combination of technical competence and bedside manner in how you build trust, but it has to be understood and it can be measured. You can do it in standard interviews with third parties. We will be commissioning research into what creates trust that will shape the models that the IFP can deliver into its accredited firms.” There will be built a body of knowledge-based on what advisers’ peers say about them and what their clients say about them.

But where does this preoccupation with trust come from? Mr Mullins said: “I was writing an article recently, and I was stunned. I have been advising people for nearly half my life and the first lesson I ever learned was the premium of good faith. The market is a place where people should be able to do business with other people they can trust. Nobody trusts anybody any more. Banks do not trust anybody any more; we are in a trust deficit.

“You cannot change the past but you can begin to shape the future. We are at a crisis point and we need to change.”

Mr Mullins is planning to write to chief executives of financial services companies, and explain the issues, suggest a better future, to show firms some of the things they need to think about. “We have to align our behaviours with a statement of intent, we have got to have appropriate reward structures, we have to have a better operating mode.”

Backing his plans for change is a study of research he has conducted into the issue of trust in financial advice. Research, according to Mr Mullins, suggests that four out of five investors are looking to switch advisers, and other studies suggest that the issue with trust has changed.

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