Regulation  

How to avoid the rogue lead generators

When the consumer details have been sent from the lead generation company, Contact State will provide ‘data receipts’ to the insurer or intermediary that prove conclusively how a consumer was advertised to and if they gave their consent to be contacted.

Mr Desmier says this forces the lead generation company to act more responsibly because its actions are being logged.

“One of the problems is that if you are a consumer right now looking for health insurance or life insurance, there are a lot of different adverts that are displayed and you have no real way of knowing if they are legitimate or not. 

“The Financial Conduct Authority has lost control of financial promotions because the speed at which digital media has moved means it does not know who is advertising what/who is giving out what adverts.

“If a website and firm are using our technology, they will know whether the advert the consumer has seen is legitimate or not.”

When Mr Desmier set up E-Finity Leads he made a full application to be directly authorised by the FCA, something he says many of the leading lead generation companies take upon themselves to do to add differentiation. 

As well as regulatory scrutiny, it meant that all the adverts he ran and landline pages needed to be approved through a process internally.

When he sold E-Finity after getting a good offer, he decided that with all the knowledge he had built he would set up Contact State, described as an advertising intelligence platform.

Mr Desmier says businesses that generate leads without the level of scrutiny brought by being directly authorised are largely anonymous and hard to trace – often offshore.

“There should be far more checks and balances to ensure consumers are protected.”

Mr Desmier does, however, note that there are “lots of excellent” compliant lead generation companies in the UK.

Regulation

But who is keeping a close enough eye on the bad ones?

A consultation period has just closed on HM Treasury’s consultation on a regulatory framework for approval of financial promotions.

As reported by FTAdviser, the Treasury warned the “variety and vast quantity” of products being offered on the market meant the requirement for lead generation companies to secure approval from an authorised business “no longer provided a strong enough safeguard”. 

So additional safeguards are needed to ensure consumers are protected from deficient or potentially harmful financial promotions. 

The government is proposing that authorised companies obtain specific FCA consent before approving the financial promotions of unauthorised companies. 

To offer further protection to customers, Mr Desmier says Contact State is planning to build a consumer-facing tool so that when the customer clicks on a website they can clearly see on the site that it has received a stamp of approval-type notification from Contact State.