Financial Promotions FAQs - Financial Conduct Authority

Financial Promotions FAQs

Published: 30/09/2014
This section contains information on issues that affect most financial promotions across a number of product types. You can find detailed information about the rules that apply to savings and investment products (COBS), mortgages (MCOB) and insurance (ICOBS) on the relevant sections of this site.

 

Answer:

No. A firm's senior management must make sure they have the systems and controls to ensure their promotions are compliant. However, we are happy to explain to firms the meaning or policy intention of the rules where this is unclear, or give individual guidance. See SUP 9 in the FSA Handbook.

Content of financial promotions

Answer:

Firms should ensure that financial promotions do not disguise, obscure or diminish the significance of any important statement or warning. If a financial promotion displays information on the relevant risks of a product, it must do so fairly and prominently.

Answer:

A firm is not generally required to state in its financial promotions that it is regulated by us. However, if it names us as its regulator and refers to matters we do not regulate it should be clear that we do not regulate those matters.

Answer:

The financial promotion rules apply to advertising on the internet as they do to all other media. Firms will have to think carefully about how to apply the rules to websites, emails, pop-up ads, sponsored links and other forms of internet based advertising.

Answer:

Warnings should be right for the product, the medium, the audience and the content of the promotion. Irrelevant or inappropriate warnings may only discourage or confuse consumers for no useful reason and will result in the advert being unclear.

Compliance

Answer:

There is no harm in a firm using a checklist to ensure it has produced a compliant advert and followed its own systems. Problems may arise where checklists are used in isolation i.e. when all the boxes may have been ticked but no-one at the firm has stood back and determined whether the material actually meets the high-level rules. So, using a checklist alone will not necessarily guarantee compliant promotions; nor will it necessarily be proof of adequate systems and controls.

FCA processes

Answer:

We monitor television advertising using a media and advertising intelligence service. The financial promotion rules apply to television advertising as they do to all other media.

Answer:

The internet is becoming an increasingly attractive medium for advertisers. We reviewed internet advertising in November 2007 and found that 75% of the sample met our financial promotions requirements, but the remaining quarter were difficult for consumers to navigate and failed to signpost key information. We will conduct another review in 2008 to check progress. We also automatically check a firm's website if we have concerns about its promotions.

Answer:

Letters sent by our financial promotions team to firms outline our preliminary views on the material we have seen. We welcome firms' counter-arguments and any evidence from the firm showing why it considers an advert to be fair, clear and not misleading.

Answer:

We outline the criteria for taking such action in the enforcement section of our Handbook (see Chapter 2 of our Enforcement Guide (EG)).

Hotline

We set up the Hotline because we want firms and consumers to report any promotions to us they think are unfair, unclear or misleading. You can call it on 0800 111 6768.

When promotions are reported we look into them to decide whether any action is needed. If we agree a promotion requires further action, we contact the firm, explaining our concerns with the material and ask them to comment/defend their position. We may:

  • ask the firm to withdraw the advert;
  • suggest the firm write to customers who bought the product making the risks clearer and offering redress; or
  • refer the case to our enforcement division for consideration of disciplinary action.

If the promotion does not fall within our remit (for example, it relates to a credit card) we will forward it on to the appropriate regulator.

Calls to the Hotline can be anonymous. We do ask for a contact name and number in case we have any questions about the reported promotion, but the caller does not have to give this information.

Finding FSA documents

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You will find some FSA branded documents on the FCA site.

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