The Trust Imperative: The Hard Costs of Low Trust

By Barbara Kimmel posted May 29,2014 14:20


While talk of the importance of trust in business seems to be gaining in popularity, what is the true economic impact of low trust?  Take this short quiz and find out. 

1) The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp., have piled up $___________ in legal costs since the financial crisis.

A) $25 billion  

B) $25 billion   

C) $100 billion   

D) $200 billion 


2) The Washington Post reported that “the federal government imposed an estimated $_________ in regulatory costs on the economy (in 2012).”

A) $50 billion     

B) $200 billion      

C) $100 billion     

D) $300 billion   


3)  The cost of the tort litigation system alone in the United States is over $________.

A) $1 billion    

B)   $100 billion   

C)   $3000 billion   

D) $250 billion   


4) According to Edelman globally, _____% of consumers trust businesses, but just ______% trust business leadership.

A)  90%, 80%

B) 70%, 60%

C) 50%, 18%

D) 15%, 5%


5) In the United States, Edelman’s statistics are similar, but the story is a bit worse for leadership. While _____% of U.S. consumers trust businesses, just ____% trust business leadership.

A)  50%, 15%  

B) 70%, 60% C) 90%, 80% D) 15%, 5%

The Towers Watson 2011-2012 “Change and Communication ROI Study Report” shows that companies that have highly effective communications practices are _________ times more likely to outperform their peers financially.

A) .75 times

B) 1.2 times 

C) 4.5 times 

D) 1.7 times



  1. C: $103 billion in legal costs since the financial crisis, more than all dividends paid to shareholders in the past five years. Bloomberg, August 2013
  2. B: $216 billion in 2012, nearly double its previous record.
  3. D: $250 billion. – or 2% of GDP, Forbes, January 2012
  4. C: 50% of consumers trust business, while 18% trust business leadership.
  5. A: 50% of consumers trust business while just 15% trust business leadership.
  6. D: 1.7 times


Most companies continue to ignore trust as a cultural imperative. Those that have built it into their DNA are faring much better than their competition.  If you are interested in reading more about this subject, please click on this recent blog post.  Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America. For more information visit