Who Can You Trust?

The world is undergoing a crisis in trust. It’s become common parlance that “trust in experts” has been emphatically withdrawn by the public.

It’s happened to politicians, the media, NGOs, and following the financial crash and exposés on tax avoidance, it’s happened to those of us in business and the professions too.

When people are unsure of who to turn to, they turn inward, seeking only to further reaffirm what they already believe to be correct, exacerbating the problem further.

The Return of Experts

Things, however, may be starting to change.

During my recent trip to the World Economic Forum, I attended an event by the communications firm, Edelman, for the official launch of their annual Trust Barometer.

Among its many findings, the Barometer reports that “voices of authority” – or experts – are beginning to regain credibility. Of relevance to the accountancy profession, “technical experts” is now the single most credible category and enjoyed a modest rise from last year. CEOs and directors also recorded significant gains, albeit from lower bases. Overall, there was a marked increase in the credibility attributed to figures from across business.

There is also note of the increasing expectations for businesses, specifically CEOs, to lead change rather than waiting for government to impose it. Add to that, the finding that business analysis of social issues is now trusted almost as much as journalistic analysis, and it becomes clear that our profession and others have both an opportunity and a responsibility to engage and to lead.

ICAEW’s Trust Mandate

We have long been clear that ICAEW’s role is to work in the public interest. We ensure that members are able to carry out their work efficiently and with due diligence and integrity. We also offer insight and advice, engaging with governments, businesses and other regulators to work towards our vision for a World of Strong Economies.

Our success depends upon the trust we earn through our work, and which is at the crux of everything we do. This trust is placed in us by our members, partners and the wider public, then reinvested by us into further work. It’s a system that has worked well for nearly 140 years.

The world needs experts, because we need expertise. The sharing and deepening of knowledge and ideas depend on it, and a willingness to trust those who possess it. As experts in finance and business, we should promote our profession for the contributions it makes and the trust leadership it can provide in such difficult times.