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Financial Planning > Trusts and Estates > Trust Planning

Honesty and trustworthiness

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I’m not much good at large appliance repair.

While usually not a big deal in my everyday life, this makes me feel particularly vulnerable when my refrigerator or oven breaks down and we need to call in a repairman. And as you might have anticipated, I have had to deal with both situations within the past six months.

Sad fact is, my wife and I — and most consumers — are pretty much at the mercy of whatever a repair person tells us is wrong. What makes it very frustrating is that you have little recourse to verify their diagnosis of the problem — and the cost to fix it — without bringing a separate repair person into the picture at additional time and expense.

Much like many people distrust auto mechanics, it’s hard to 100% trust that the repair person is being completely honest with you about the problem or the most economical way to fix it. You can be suspicious, but unless you really know the inner workings of these things, all that does is leave you with an uneasy feeling.

The primary “fix” for both my refrigerator and oven turned out to be very similar — they both needed new master control boards. Seemed very coincidental and maybe an over-the-top fix. Do appliance repair people tend to go for the easy solution that is perhaps more than needed and requires the most expensive part?

It made me think a bit about the honesty and trustworthiness factor of people responsible for servicing your needs — be it appliance repair, car maintenance or financial and insurance planning. A new MDRT survey reveals that consumers view those two traits as the most important for advisors, trumping “delivers results” by a practically 2-to-1 margin.

The MDRT Financial Harmony Study, released July 14, asked U.S. consumers to rate their financial advisor/professional in terms of honesty, trustworthiness, knowledge and delivers results. Financial advisors were asked to rate themselves across the same attributes. Results highlighted a significant gap between how advisors rate themselves and how clients rate their advisors. Consumers ranked honesty (39%) and trustworthiness (29%) as more important than delivers results (19%) and knowledge (13%).

Advisors, on the other hand, went with trustworthiness as the top attribute, at 41%, and honesty second at 29%.

“While honesty and trust are similar, they are not really the same,” says Matt Thornhill, founder and president of the Boomer Project, which conducted the research. “Advisors need to realize they need to create opportunities to earn trust. Trustworthiness is an outcome of a solid advisor/client relationship, good communication, ethical behavior and, ultimately, honesty demonstrated over the long term.”

I know I tend to keep going back to the auto mechanic that I believe has my best interests in mind and isn’t just trying to drain my wallet as he drains my oil pan. And if I ever find an appliance repairman I feel isn’t just trying to milk out the highest repair bill possible, I would keep calling him in the future.

Certainly I want honesty and trustworthiness out of my financial advisor, and that trust built over time will keep me loyal. But he better deliver results, as well…

For more on building trust, see:

Selling to Women: Ditch the Pitch

Six Steps to Building Trust on Your Website

7 Ways to Warm Up a Cold Prospect

To read more from Brian Anderson, click here.


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