Building and maintaining trust in a polarized environment

April 2023

In March 2023, board members and senior executives from leading financial institutions were joined by Lex Suvanto, CEO, and Andrew Wilde, Global Chair of Financial Services, at Edelman Smithfield for a series of dinner discussions exploring findings from the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 32,000 individuals across 28 countries to assess consumer sentiment. In these discussions, participants examined how financial institutions can build and maintain employee and customer loyalty in the context of deep ideological divisions and erosion in trust in media and government. They also explored the pressure that leaders of large banks and insurers face to address contentious social issues and the risk of alienating large portions of their customer and employee bases in doing so.

This document synthesizes insights from those conversations, focusing on the following themes:

  • The current environment of mistrust, polarization, and economic anxiety
  • How to respond to heightened expectations