‘total lack of trust’

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There was an interesting interview on BBCnews this morning in which Peter Bolton King, Global Residential Director at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), revealed the findings of their survey that Estate Agents are not trusted to provide relevant information to property buyers.

This concurs with a recent survey by Which? who asked consumers the extent that they trusted various professions to ‘act in their best interest’. Estate Agents and Bankers scored 11% after Politicians and Journalists with 7%. Doctors and Nurses were up at 80%+

A key point he made was that there is no compulsion for Estate Agents to belong to a professional or trade body. It occurred to me that these professional and trade institutions, such as RICS, could do much to enhance the ‘trustworthiness’ of their members, and therefore the profession or trade they represent, by participating in the governments’ ID Assurance initiative to ensure that their members and their qualifications are verified and, under CPD, maintained. This would provide consumers with confidence and weed out the minority ‘cowboys’ who give numerous professions a bad name – often undeserved.

Relationships, of any kind, depend upon Trust and Trust is something that is earned and maintained. In business ‘More Trust = More Money’.

To be trusted is a valuable and powerful asset for individuals, businesses and government and trust is under severe pressure at the moment with front page revelations undermining the trust of politicians, military, police, lawyers, bankers, doctors, teachers, media and celebrities. In business the cavalier attitude to the protection and maintenance of personal information or worse, the unauthorised sharing or sale of personal information (online and offline), has shaken the confidence of individuals in their multiple roles as citizens, customers, patients, employees etc.

The digital world is still very young but, as Tim Berners-Lee has said, the internet is being used for communications and transactions undreamt of when he developed it. Who would have thought that your personal information (not just identity but bank details, academic qualifications, medical information etc.) is, on average, stored in 1,000 data silos around the world? Who would have thought that not only are all your emails scanned but also attachments in the name of anti-terrorism?

We all enjoy the convenience of online but ask someone about ‘convenience’ who has had their identity compromised or found that their creditworthiness has been trashed due to data errors when they have taken 2 years to re-establish their credibility.

We are only just learning that Social Networking needs to be used appropriately. You should treat it like a party of friends and strangers and only reveal ‘stuff’ that you would say in such circumstances. For those other occasions when you want some personal privacy or business confidentiality we need Anti-Social Networking. We need to have the online tools and services to know for certain; who we are communicating with, that we have shared something important with them, that they received it and that it is private and confidential.

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