Financial Service advertising regulation is detailed and proscriptive. Much comes in the form of implementing EU Directives. The result is not always helpful to consumers or business.
As responsible advertisers ISBA members seek to provide clear and accurate information to consumers. The CAP and BCAP codes apply to financial service advertising, however the details of product specific rules are provided by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and implemented separately by them.
There are advantages and disadvantages to the government administering the detailed rules that come from Brussels. However on balance ISBA believes that all the advertising regulation would be more effective if they lived at the self-regulatory system at ASA/CAP, with experienced staff able to provide consistent advice and adjudications.
The first aim of advertising regulation must be to protect consumers. There is a tendency for legislators to believe that consumer protection is achieved by compulsory ‘small print’ in ads. ISBA recognises that there is an important role for laying down essential information. However we also know that small print, disclaimers and legalese is mistrusted by the very consumers it seeks to protect. Sometimes the disclaimers are also the subject to public ridicule. Financial service advertising is particularly surrounded by the need to add qualifying statements; we believe the nature of the warnings, the inflexibility of the word requirements, and sometimes the need for them should be comprehensively reviewed.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates financial services, taking over from the Financial Standard Authority (FSA). Companies who offering credit cards, hire purchase, debt management, payday loans or advice are registered with the FCA. The FCA has brought out guidelines for all businesses to follow which can be found here.
This also impacts on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in how it deals complaints and credit ads, making sure the content is socially responsible. Given the volume of complaints submitted to the ASA over the year, CAP have published an AdviceOnline entry to make sure marketers can adhere to rules. Click here to view them.
ISBA is supporting the Radio industry in arguing for greater simplicity in warning notices in radio ads. Consumer warning should be short, memorable and varied.