Neil Chapman on trust and the financial crisis

October 13, 2008

I’m very pleased to present a guest comment by a good friend, crisisblogger reader/commenter and a true crisis communication expert. Neil Chapman lives in London and is a top level communication manager for a global company. He sees the loss of trust in our major institutions as a major threat to communicators and CEOs concerned about building and maintaining trust for their organizations in these unsettling times:

Americans are angry at Wall Street over the financial crisis. Here’s a reaction from  the other side of the world – individuals who feel duped by banks in Singapore that sold them financial structured products they believed to be protected deposits. The story is told by The Online Citizen – a community of Singaporeans ( It brings the crisis down to the level of ordinary people.

If truth is the first victim of war  then trust must be one of the early victims of the current financial crisis. Trust in banks, trust in politicians  and, I would argue, trust in companies and the economic system in general. When people’s cynicism meters are in the red zone, it spills over into other areas. If that is happening then it is a long-term issue crisis communicators will have to deal with. The next time a corporate crisis impacts people because of someone’s greed or incompetence, I suspect you will see an even greater level of distrust and anger directed at  the managers who ‘were asleep at the wheel’, the regulators ‘who should have seen it coming’ and the politicians ‘ who once again failed to protect the ordinary citizen.’

I would argue that trust-building just got harder for all of us.



One Response to “Neil Chapman on trust and the financial crisis”

  1. Jacquie Says:

    Yes, trust just became a lot more difficult — especially for those of us who work in financial services. Now what do we do with that knowledge? I have the fortunate situation of working as a PR person for a company that doesn’t require any “spin” — we have a clean track record. How do we work on restoring trust???

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