Investments and lending still account for most FCA action on promotions

Investments and lending still account for most FCA action on promotions

Some 83 per cent of interventions on promotions by the Financial Conduct Authority related to retail investments and lending.

In its financial promotions data for the second quarter of the year ending June 30, the FCA said it reviewed 451 promotions.

Of these, 374 were amended or withdrawn following the FCA’s intervention with 24 authorised firms.

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Retail lending amounted to 59 per cent of interventions while retail investments was 25 per cent. This was followed by retail banking and general insurance and protection which were 8 per cent each.

Some of the most common breaches involved credit brokers, mortgage intermediaries and investment platforms.

The FCA said 58 per cent of the reviewed promotions involved website or social media promotions and 28,000 lenders and brokers were issued with a Dear CEO letter to stop using misleading terms in their advertising. 

It said: “We have been undertaking proactive monitoring, which will continue into 2022 Q3 and if firms fail to comply, we will take action which could include banning adverts or requiring firms to change, amend or withdraw them.”

In Q2 2022, the FCA received 6,010 reports about potential unauthorised business, down from 7,234 in Q1. 

From these, it issued 286 alerts about unauthorised firms and individuals, with 22 per cent of these related to clone scams.

This is down from Q1 where there were 762, with more than 11 per cent of these related to clone scams.

“Over the last quarter, we continue to see a considerable number of cases involving unauthorised firms and individuals who are offering claims management services, often requiring a substantial upfront fee, or regular administration payments for the promise of recovering funds on behalf of consumers,” the FCA said. 

“Other ongoing trends include increased use of bloggers and influencers on social media, such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, to target younger age groups. The aim is to persuade them to invest in products with promises of high or guaranteed returns but which offer no protection if things should go wrong.”  

The City watchdog said it continued to see an ongoing trend in the number of bloggers promoting credit on behalf of unauthorised third parties, with a particular growth in financial promotions targeting students. 

“Where we identify illegal content, we will issue an alert where appropriate and request for the content to be removed,” it said. 

“In the most serious cases where there is evidence of consumer harm, this may result in parties engaged in this activity being required to pay restitution or face criminal sanctions.”

In November, Google offered the FCA $3mn (£2.19mn) worth of ad credits to help fight online scams and pledged a further $2mn (£1.46mn) in credits to support industry scam awareness campaigns.

The following month, social media giants Twitter, Meta (previously Facebook), and Microsoft, all committed to introducing a revised advertising onboarding process, which would require UK regulated financial services advertisers to be authorised by the FCA.