The Trusted Advisor, by David H Maister, Charles H Green and Robert M Galford, published by The Free Press (ISBN 074320963X)

The authors of this new self-help guide claim that the key to professional success is the ability to earn the trust and confidence of clients.

"The creation of trust is what earns the right to influence clients; trust is also at the root of client satisfaction and loyalty. The workings of trust are even more critical in the new economy than in the old," asserts the book's introduction, before launching into a practical guide on how to go about winning this trust.

It claims to be able to do this because its authors have broken trust down into a simple mathematical equation:

T = (C + R + I)/S

A rather surprising assertion.

However, for those of you who wish to know more:

T = trustworthiness

C = credibility

R = reliability

I = intimacy

S = self-orientation

According to the authors' theory, there are five distinct steps that need to be taken to create a trust-based relationship: engage, listen, frame, envision and commit. These are pursued in distinct chapters. Tables and calculations litter the text, and the book even explains that the trust rating a new client has for an adviser can be explained as:

(C+R+I)/S = (5+3+2)/8 = 10/8 = 1.25

The book does have value in its anecdotes. It uses supposed real people such as Ellen, "a partner in an accounting firm", as aids to illustrate skits on how to deal with certain situations. Many of them are useful, if rather basic, insights into the psychology of human interaction.

Bestseller lists, though, are unlikely to be dominated by this book. People who need to analyse feelings through equations are rare and probably too far gone for The Trusted Advisor to be of any use.

For people who rely on emotions and instincts, being interested in your client as a person and having a proven track record is probably the best way of gaining their trust.