Increasing trust in financial services

Over the last five years, trust in financial services has increased steadily. But in 2018, as the annual Edelman Trust Barometer shows, that rise stalled. In some markets, there’s even a decline.

Web | 2 minutes read | Orlaith Wood

Increasing trust in financial services
Increasing trust in financial services

Trust runs far deeper than outward perceptions – and determines our actions. This year’s survey shows that of consumers who trust a financial services company, nearly half (41%) use its products and services, and a third (31%) would recommend it to others. Trust can make or break a firm.

Financial services firms invest heavily in externals such as office space and high–end business cards. But their websites are often less appealing. When potential clients land on your homepage, you have approximately ten seconds to make them want to know more, before they turn away.

To build trust, it’s important to deliver a satisfying digital experience.

So, how exactly do you do that? 

Take an outsider view

You know your business well, but most people visiting your website will know little about what you do.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone encountering your company for the first time. Do you use language that communicates what you’re all about? Can a potential customer see important information, or is it buried in jargon

Your aim is to help people understand, quickly and easily, what you do and what you offer. This might mean changing complex subject matter into a simpler message. Work out what technical terms you need to keep – and if your phrasing and words aren’t easy to understand, rewrite.

Be clear

When you’re a customer, you need to understand what you’re buying. In that situation, your trust will grow if there’s a set of easy–to–understand terms and conditions. You also need to understand the product or service you’re buying.

As a financial services firm, try to use language that’s active and punchy. For example, “We monitor investments” – not “investments are monitored”. (In case it’s not clear, the second example is stuffy, slow, and distancing.) Active language shows you take an active role in the services you provide.

Another trick is to keep sentences short, and strip out long or complex words. Make things easy to read. Simple can be elegant. So work at being simple.


Keep complexity in check

We’ve come to expect complexity on financial websites. Yet those who land on your homepage shouldn’t have to wade through a wall of text or navigate complicated menus to find out what they need to know.

Good visual hierarchy helps keep complexity in check. A well–designed website enables the digestion of information in an order that makes sense. Emphasise your main offer, then introduce additional information in a way that doesn’t weaken or distract. This might sound obvious, but it can be tricky to get right.

An example of good visual hierarchy is the AA website. While it offers customers the chance to buy different products, from insurance to driving lessons, the big yellow button on its homepage makes the main offer (breakdown cover) very obvious.


AA website



The AA website is like a shop filled with great products. In the shop window is its biggest seller – but it’s also inviting customers inside to explore everything else for themselves. 

Be distinctive

Many financial websites are awash with design clichés, such as dark blue colour palettes, traditional cursive typography, and stock photography.


Blue website blurs


A staged photo of a handshake won’t persuade anyone to trust your firm. In a sea of similar looking websites, you have a real opportunity to use distinctive design to stand out. An unexpected colour palette and interesting graphics will set you apart from competitors. You can be memorable, in a good way.

Using creative design to show personality needn’t be scary. Ruffer LLP, a serious financial institution, proves this. Its playful illustrations are in line with its company values; original, quirky, and old–fashioned.


Bowing man illustration gif

Opportunity knocks

Your website reflects your business. If it’s cold, confusing or overly complex, this might lead people to conclude your firm is like that, too. Begin with an outsider perspective. Be clear. Don’t let complexity deaden your site. And don’t be afraid to be distinctive.

Customers want to trust you with their assets. By using simplicity to strengthen your communications, you can make it easy. 


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