FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bankers are struggling to regain the trust of consumers around the world after the worst financial crisis in generations rocked the global economy, a survey showed on Friday.
Dubbed "fat-cat bankers" by U.S. President Barack Obama, their reputation took a hit when complex investments and risky trading practices caused the 2008 credit crunch that sparked turmoil on international financial markets and global recession.
Only 43 percent of respondents to a survey published by Germany's GfK research institute said they trusted bankers, up slightly from 42 percent in 2010 but still well below the 51 percent recorded before the crisis in 2007.
Trust in bankers hit a low of 37 percent in 2009, when the global economy shrank and banks and other companies sought government bailouts.
GfK compiles an annual "Trust Index," in which it asks citizens of various countries how much they trust various professional groups, such as doctors, lawyers or postal workers.
For the 2011 Index, which was topped by fire fighters, doctors and teachers, it surveyed 19,261 respondents in 19 countries, including 15 in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Columbia and India.
GfK said one reason the assessment of bankers has improved slightly over the past year could be that the financial crisis has spilled over into a European debt crisis and policymakers and politicians have replaced bankers at the core of the debate.
Still, only 27 percent of respondents from Britain said they trusted bankers, according to GfK. In Italy, that figure was even lower, at only 22 percent, while the highest level of trust in bankers was recorded in India, at 80 percent.
The 2007 "Trust Index" did not include responses from Brazil, Columbia and India.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Erica Billingham)