Financial promotions in social media - new FCA guidance revealed

17/03/2015

Following consultation in late 2014, the FCA’s final supervisory approach to financial promotions in social media has now been released.

The aim of the guidance is “to ensure that consumers are presented with certain minimum information, in a fair and balanced way, at the outset of firms’ interaction with them”. The full document can be found on the FCA's website.

We wrote about the FCA’s initial proposals during the consultation and the following changes have made their way into the final guidance document. We will cover the guidance in more detail in the coming days but in the meantime, below is a summary of the notable changes from the initial consultation document:

Re-tweets, forwarding and sharing 

  • Each post, whether written by the company or sharing another user’s post, has to be compliant on its own regardless of the context of the post

Inserting images in social media promotions

  • The post text and image must be both independently compliant, on the basis that not all users will necessarily be able to see both in context together (for example twitter images can be minimised/ switched off)
  • It would be reasonable to include both a disclaimer and promotion in the image, and a signpost within the post’s text instructing readers to read the image for the full ‘story’.

‘Click-through’ approach 

    • As per UK and European Directives, each separate aspect of a promotion must be compliant if it falls within the ‘promotional’ umbrella. For example tweeting a link to a website is fine provided the tweet is either non-promotional, or promotional and with a disclaimer. Likewise the webpage must be compliant on a standalone basis.

Dynamic functionality 

    • Advertising on social media sites is no different to any other website. If the promotion loads and the full scope of the promotion can be seen by the user without any interaction required (i.e. they do not need to click ‘play’), then the compliance notice must be seen within at least one frame or aspect of the promotion.

‘In the course of business’

    • An individual tweeting what would be deemed promotional on behalf of a firm can fall within the regulated remit, so firms should provide guidance to employees that if they do wish to tweet on the firm’s behalf, what disclaimers they need to include to make the posts compliant.
    • These cases would be considered on an individual basis, as per the usual ‘in the course of business’ rules

#Ad 

    • Using a single hashtag as a disclaimer was considered inappropriate and inadequate 

Approval and record-keeping

    • Social media is treated no differently from the current standards required for any other financial promotion.  It should be treated in line with existing policies
    • We (Redleaf) will write about this in more detail as it can present certain new challenges to firms.

Kind regards,

Charlie Ansdell,

Head of Professional & Financial Services

Karl Wiseman

Digital Strategist

ca@redleafpr.com

0207 382 4762

kw@redleafpr.com

0207 382 4753