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Trust: A Modern Greek Tragedy

May 16, 2012

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In any business, you’re only as good as your word and the actions that back them.

Yesterday, in a scene straight out of the Depression, Greeks withdrew €700 million (nearly $900 million) from the country’s banks as the nascent government quickly crumbled amid continued political infighting. If we’ve learned anything from the financial crisis over the past five years, it’s that trust is the foundation that keeps financial institutions afloat. Like Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns and others quickly learned, hundreds of years of history can be wiped out in days once that trust evaporates.

In Greece, it’s easy to feel like the die has already been cast. The population in that country is fed up with European austerity plans and in no mood for more compromises. The trust is gone. Once that’s disappears, your deposit slips feel like so many pieces of worthless paper mocking you for the faith you once put in the institutions that printed them.

A bank promises to hold your money and have it available when you need it. An insurance company promises to make good on claims when you need help getting back on your feet. At Hiscox, our motto is, “As good as our word”. This was brought to life beautifully in a new UK ad campaign that launched last week. Our customers put their trust in us, and in turn we trust them and do everything we can to support their small businesses. In any business, you’re only as good as your word and the actions that back them. The Greeks lining up at ATMs across the country this week are a vivid reminder of what happens when trust is lost.