The latest nationwide research has indicated Australians continued to perceive accountants as the most ethical and trusted financial-related practitioners throughout the past 12 months characterised by the effects of COVID-19.
The “Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2021” showed 38 per cent of Australians gave accountants either a very high or high rating with regard to behaving in an honest and ethical manner. This result means accountants have been seen as the preferred financial-related professionals since 1991.
But while accountants achieved the highest rating for practitioners operating in the financial sector, their overall standing has fallen since 2017 when 50 per cent of Australians gave them the highest ethical and honesty ratings.
Public opinion toward financial advisers was less flattering, with 17 per cent of respondents believing their honest and ethical behaviour was very high or high. This represented an 8 per cent decrease from the number of Australians who held this opinion in 2017.
According to Roy Morgan, the perception of financial planners among the greater population had, until 2020, remained fairly constant since they were first included in the study in 2010. In that inaugural year, 25 per cent of respondents thought their ethics and honesty were at least high.
Bank managers fared better on the criteria of ethics and honesty, with 20 per cent of those surveyed awarding them a very high or high rating. However, they too suffered from the general trend of diminishing trust in finance professionals as they had previously been given this noteworthy assessment by 33 per cent of those surveyed.
The analysis showed stockbrokers and insurance brokers both achieved record lows, with the proportion of people who thought they had high ethical and honesty standards or better being recorded at 9 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. This represented a drop of 2 per cent for stockbrokers and 3 per cent for insurance brokers from four years prior.
The Roy Morgan data comes after research released a few weeks ago indicated the uptake of financial advice among high net worth individuals remains low.