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Building trust through ethical culture - A guide for SME firms [updated]


Publication date:

06 April 2021

Last updated:

14 April 2021


Duncan Minty

How to understand and influence ethical culture in small firms in order to improve public trust.

Insurance is all about trust. And that trust is something the public relies upon, because most people find insurance to be a difficult product to understand. As a result, this means that the people and the firms that the public puts their trust in will, in the long term, prosper and thrive.

Yet for insurance professionals, trust is not something you take down off a shelf, or open up from a folder on your computer. Building trust, and sustaining trust, involves effort and character. And the reason why you want to be trusted matters too. The public is able to distinguish between the person who wants to be trusted
because it’s a good way of winning business, and the person who wants to be trusted because it is ‘the right thing to do’. The motivation for being trusted matters.

Insurance executives are recognising the links between trust and success. A survey in 2017 by the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 28% of insurance CEOs were ‘extremely concerned’ that trust would affect their firm’s growth.

Trust is something that insurance people and insurance firms have to keep working at. So what can insurance firms do to build and sustain the public’s trust? Clearly, it is important that they take steps to manage the behaviours, beliefs and habits of the people working for them. Those are what the public experiences when in contact with the insurance sector.

But how does an insurance firm go about addressing the behaviours, beliefs and habits of the people working for it? This needs to be done on several levels, such as how the firm is led and how its people are rewarded, to name but two.

When you add all those behaviours, beliefs and habits together, you get something that is often referred to as the culture of the firm. This type of culture has been summed up as ‘the way things get done round here’. And it can have a huge influence on how people work, often without them realising it.

This interactive guide sets out the steps that small to medium firms can take to understand and influence the culture at their firms, so that as a result, trust in their firm is more certain, more sustained. 


You can read the guide in full HERE.


Accompanying this guide are six supporting documents that explore the different ways to create and support an ethical working environment:

This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), Society of Underwriting Professionals or Chartered Insurance Institute, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the Society or Chartered Insurance Institute.