Calls for greater regulation on TikTok mortgage advice

Calls for greater regulation on TikTok mortgage advice
  Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

TikTok’s mortgage stars are calling for stricter rules on the social media platform to stop scammers spreading misinformation and to preserve industry standards.

Qualified mortgage brokers, who have thousands of followers on the video sharing app, are demanding rigorous checks on influencers who post videos that contain mortgage advice to ensure viewers get authentic information from professional brokers rather than scammers or those with no qualifications.

The problem with non-qualified brokers making TikTok videos that are not compliant with rules on the promotion of financial products is that they often circulate misinformation.

Sadly, this can mean viewers fall prey to scams. The data by Online Mortgage Advisor found that 99 per cent of the videos it analysed did not contain a disclaimer that would typically advise a viewer to do their own research, seek out professional advice or clarify that the content itself is not professional advice. 

Ewa Brzeska, who has 91,000 followers on her TikTok account ThatMortgageQueen, suggested that TikTok can help viewers differentiate real brokers from fake ones by checking their qualifications against the Financial Conduct Authority’s register. 

Brzeska, who is a mortgage and protection adviser at Carlisle-based Truly Independent, said: “More should be done in distinguishing who is certified in the mortgage field and who isn’t, so that people know they are receiving information from actual mortgage professionals.

 “I think the easiest way would be for TikTok to verify certified mortgage advisers through checking their credentials against the FCA register. Any account that’s not verified should then have a disclaimer to tell the viewer that the person isn’t certified and therefore the information may be tenuous at best.”

Screening process

This was echoed by Kylie-Ann Gatecliffe, who has 18,000 followers on her TikTok account Kag Financial. She agreed that there should be a screening process for accounts that claim to be advisers. 

Gatecliffe, who is a director at Selby-based Kag Financial, said: “TikTok should have a screening process for accounts set up claiming to be advisers. Firms should have to provide FCA registration, or copies of qualification certificates. We have about 300 enquires a month that come to us through TikTok, and we encourage them to look at us on the register, and view our website – so that they are fully comfortable with working with us.

 “I do think it should be a requirement that the firm’s FCA number is listed on their TikTok page, so clients can see they are dealing with reputable firms.

“A disclaimer would also be a great idea as a reminder for clients to do their own due diligence when choosing to work with a firm they have found on TikTok, or any social media platform.”

These calls follow worrying new research that found one in four property influencers on TikTok feature misleading content about purchasing real estate.

The study, by Online Mortgage Advisor, which was published in May, also found that more than 1 in 20 of these videos featured an influencer boasting about how much money they had made through property purchases, and suggested to their viewers that they would be guaranteed profitable returns by following the influencers' methods. Only 4 out of 10 of the influencers analysed were transparent about their qualifications in relation to real estate investment in their bios or videos.