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EDITIONS
Monday, 25 November, 2002, 07:36 GMT
Bosses 'cannot be trusted'
A bag of money
Executive pay is back on the agenda
Most British people believe that the bosses of large companies cannot be trusted to tell the truth, a BBC survey has suggested.

Survey results
Can directors be trusted to tell the truth?
Agree: 17%
Disagree: 65%

Are directors paid too much?
Agree: 75%
Disagree: 11%

Can firms' pension promises be trusted?
Agree: 34%
Disagree: 43%

Can accountants be trusted to check results?
Agree: 37%
Disagree: 39%

source: BBC Business Today / Mori

Two in three of those taking part in the poll, conducted by Mori for the BBC's Business Today programme, said they could not trust what business leaders said, a figure that was consistent across almost all ages, social groupings and geographical locations.

In a resurgence of the "fat cat Britain" feelings prevalent in the early 1990s, even more - almost four people in five - said directors of large companies are paid too much for the job they do.

And a large minority also feared that companies could not be trusted to honour their pension commitments, more than believed that they could.

Hitting home

The survey was conducted between 31 October and 4 November, with more than 2,000 people interviewed face to face in their homes.

The findings indicate that the corporate scandals rocking the US - Enron, WorldCom and Tyco, to name just three - have had a significant impact on British people's trust in UK plc.

It also suggests that homegrown fiascos like the pensions mis-selling crisis, the near-collapse of Equitable Life and the implosion of Marconi from a multi-billion pound company to being worth just 60m have had an effect.

But whereas accountancy firms in the US have been attacked repeatedly for their part in the scandals, their UK counterparts appear still - barely - to have escaped the worst of the disdain.

When asked whether accountants could be relied upon to make sure company figures were accurate, the survey's subjects were split right down the middle.

Contrasts

The survey also suggested significant differences about the faith the British place in directors of large companies.

Share-owners were much more likely to say they mistrusted pension promises than non-share owners.

The well-off, earning more than 30,000 a year, were - unsurprisingly - much less concerned with executive pay than their less well-paid compatriots.

And perhaps because of a lack of interest, or experience, in business matters, people under the age of 25 proved much more trusting of company directors than everyone else.


Politics of regulation

Worldcom goes bust

Enron fall-out

Andersen laid low

FORUM
See also:

21 Nov 02 | Business
15 Nov 02 | Business
21 Oct 02 | Business
18 Sep 02 | Business
14 Aug 02 | Business
24 Jul 02 | Business
23 Jul 02 | Business
Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


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