Bankers and bloggers: Whom do we trust?

Summary: How can David Cameron trust ex-HSBC boss Stephen Green enough to appoint him trade minister?
Why should I trust your recommendation and read this book?

The above are all situations in which we as consumers, co-workers, citizens or purchasing officers have to decide, can I trust this information?
Discover four tips right here, plus see our handy checklist – with slides!
How do you do it? Leave a comment, I am curious to know.

Can I trust you?

Every day we tweet and share information, but how much can we trust these things?

Can you trust Dominique Strauss-Kahn? The French former politician and International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief recently gave evidence at his trial on pimping charges, which threatens to expose his double life. Stating that he rarely attended sex parties because he was “saving the world” and had “other things to do”, he probably knows what it means to lose one’s reputation and wife’s trust and respect.

Dominique-Strauss-Kahn-faces-pimping-charges-in-Lille-court

Once tipped to be the next president of France, Strauss-Kahn does not deny having had group sex. But he refutes the charges of “aggravated pimping”, described as aiding and abetting prostitution. He denies knowing that women at the orgies were prostitutes, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Similarly, the UK government was in possession of detailed evidence about wrongdoing at HSBC’s Swiss bank. That did not stop David Cameron from appointing former HSBC boss Lord Green as trade minister. But Swissleaks and other HSBC leaks haunt the ordained Church of England minister. The alleged money laundering activities happened during his watch (see below).

You are what you tweet

Remember last time you saw a tweet or got a newsletter in your inbox? You shared it on Twitter and Facebook, but did you first ask yourself, “Can I trust the information that I just passed on?” Was the study well done or based on a convenience sample (i.e. we asked our friends and know what people want based on that)?

Remember the last time you saw a blog entry like this:

Top 10 social media agencies in the world

So, the world consists only of the UK and US? I don’t think so!

11 power tips to increase your Facebook engagement

More like power trips, not tips!

These things are often based on people’s personal experience and opinions, but people still eat this stuff up and share it like candy.

Just reflect a moment, would you trust your banker to invest your pension savings based on personal beliefs? I prefer facts. I surely hope that our pension’s fund managers analyze data more carefully than just following such blog entries’ advice.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How to check trust levels for a blogger => DrKPI Trust Index

Garbage in, garbage out? Nope!

Corporate blogs are often simply about the product. In other words, they all just push products, some openly, and others in more subtle ways. The SAS blogs do better than most, that is for sure. For instance, whenever possible the authors refer to other material that is beyond reproach.

Erwan Granger blogged about cloud computing (see below). Smartly, he refers to the definitions of cloud computing as put forward by NIST (Peter Mell and Timothy Grance), a well-respected agency.

SAS-writes-about-cloud-computing-uses-NIST-definition

While the above blog entry tries to push product, it still provides content that is valuable, helping the reader better understand what cloud computing is. By linking to other material it provides me with useful links where I can learn more, thus saving me time. Well done! If you have to push product, this is a good way of doing it (please note, we do not do business with SAS, directly or indirectly).

PS. How independent these SAS users are we do not know. But some do a very nice job blogging !

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Bottom line

There are four things to abide by before you trust your banker, corporate blogger, client or dentist:

1. Take five minutes to check the facts. Before you believe your banker or a tweet you saw, do a check. Is the eMarketer study or Jeff Bullas’ tip based on sound facts and research, or just the author’s gut feelings?

Is the research or opinion good enough to bet your money on? Probably not, unless it is personal investment advice from the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffet, or maybe well-done survey research from PEW.

eMarketer-cites-study-with-invalid-data-trust-lost-in-their-material

2. How did you come to trust this person? Think about your family physician: they are a non-nonsense person you trust based on their experience. They check a few things to avoid making a hasty, and possibly wrong, diagnosis.

Online content from a corporate blogger is similar. Have you followed them and read their material for some time; is their material trustworthy? Just like building trust, writing great blog content is time consuming and requires more than writing what you believe – show me the numbers.

3. Will your behaviour decrease the other person’s trust in you? Last week you agreed to have dinner with a business partner this Tuesday. Now you have to cancel.

It goes without saying that appointments should be kept whenever possible, but if you must cancel, do it personally and start with an apology. Make sure the other person does not feel offended or let down. Finally, agree on another time and place right then.

Stephen-Green-ex-HSBC-Boss-do-not-preach-just-live-ethically

4. Lead by example and don’t preach, just do it right. Lord Green, the ex-HSBC boss published a book in 2009 (see above image) that preached at leaders to not only behave legally but ethically, going beyond “what you can get away with”.

In 2005, Green became chair of the supervisory company of HSBC’s Geneva unit, HSBC Private Banking Holdings (Suisse) SA. In this capacity, he was responsible for compliance and oversight when the alleged money laundering activity took place at HSBC’s Geneva branch.

The trust people put in you, the reputation you had and how good you made people feel is what you will be remembered by.

Looking at the above suggestions, before you re-tweet something next time, check it first. For instance, can you trust the study’s data? Otherwise follow Harper Lee’s 2007 advice, “Well, it’s better to be silent than to be a fool.

Sounds like a good motto for corporate bloggers: Check and re-check the facts, otherwise do not publish. Especially if somebody wants to quote you, make sure you read the book first before making a fool of yourself.

More Information
Download PDF file with additional graphics and 20 slides (317 kb) – Can I trust my banker, blogger and this book review?

Check out the SLIDES here, they’re definitely worth your time!


Benchmark and test your blog – for free – right now

You can view more presentation slides from DrKPI here.

What is your opinion?

Urs E. Gattiker

Professor Urs E. Gattiker - DrKPI is corporate Europe's leading social media metrics expert (see his books). He continues to work with start-ups. Urs is CEO of CyTRAP Labs GmbH and President of the Marketing Club Lago, a member of the German Marketing Association (DMV).

4 thoughts on “Bankers and bloggers: Whom do we trust?

  • 22. February 2015 at 14:31
    Permalink

    Dear Urs
    Came across an interesting article: “Why HSBC’s shame will hold back the march of purpose” by Andrew Hill, FT Business Life, p. 10.

    In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, Lord Green spearheaded a movement to restore values and morality to the financial sector and to business in general. The former executive, also an ordained priest, now stands accused of hypocrisy — and hypocrites are, oddly, often harder to forgive than villains.”

    Lord Green and HSBC

    But he talks about purpose in leadership and companies…. but after that it gets a bit fluffy. Nevertheless, it also raises the issue of morality and ethics.
    Thanks
    Peter

    Reply
    • 22. February 2015 at 14:46
      Permalink

      Dear Peter

      Thanks so much for your link to this interesting article. Yes, the banking giant HSBC sheltered murky cash linked to tax fraud and money laundering. Worst is that it happened on Lord Green’s watch.

      I just wonder how much oversight happened here. In other words, why did compliance mechanisms fail?

      See also: Hiding Sir’s Black Cash

      HSBC is already under investigated in several countries for past sins, including facilitating sanctions evasion and the laundering of drug money. For instance, while it paid $1.9bn to the US government for past sins, the latter is considering revoking the associated deferred-prosecution deal.

      No, Lord Green and his peers need to clean up their acts. Thanks for sharing Peter.

      Reply
  • 22. February 2015 at 16:52
    Permalink

    Thanks Urs

    Incidentally “price-match guarantee” is another thing about trust.
    When companies such as Tesco, Media-Markt and others offer such a guarantee, it reduces the risk for increased competition between stores.

    For instance, Free exchange / Guaranteed profits. Price-match guarantees prevent rather than provoke price wars. The Economist, February 14, 2015 p. 60 with plenty of links to research about this.See here: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21643239-price-match-guarantees-prevent-rather-provoke-price-wars-guaranteed-profits

    The result is that price sensitive customers trust their favorite store to offer a great price. Unfortunately, this is not the case…. Price-match guarantees reduce competition between retailers, resulting in higher prices for consumers.

    Reply

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