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Herman Brodie

Founding Director, Prospecta Limited, Lecturer, Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University

Is Active Trust-Building Ethical?

Trust is a combination of two judgments clients make about a financial services provider: the provider’s ability to make good things happen and the provider’s motivation to make them happen for the client. Although the former is task-specific, objective and largely conscious, the latter might be wholly unrelated to the task, subjective and non-conscious. The latter also explains the bulk of clients’ overall impression, so for service providers, targeting it is an unavoidable part of establishing trust. But when does active trust-building become manipulation? What are the ethical limits to trying to win trust?


Herman Brodie is the founding director of Prospecta Limited. He is a specialist in behavioral economics, an accomplished speaker and a trainer of decision-makers. Brodie is the author of The Trust Mandate: The behavioural science behind how asset managers REALLY win and keep clients (2018, Harriman House). He also co-wrote and teaches the professional investment course, A Practical History of Financial Markets.