FSA raps financial services adsCity watchdog finds many online 'could mislead'

29 November 2007

One in four adverts on the websites of financial services firms could potentially mislead consumers, the City watchdog has warned.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said a review of promotions on regulated firms' websites had found that a quarter of financial adverts were failing to present information in a fair, clear and not misleading way.

It said problems included adverts that failed to signpost key information for consumers, as well as ones that were difficult for people to navigate their way around.

Finance online

But overall the review, which looked at 77 company websites, found three quarters of adverts were complying with its standards.

It added that the situation had also improved since it stepped up its supervision of internet-based promotions following reviews in 2005 and 2006 which identified widespread failings.

Dan Waters, director of retail policy and themes at the FSA, said: 'For many people the internet is the channel of choice for shopping around for financial products.

'However, it can expose consumers to high risk as they are able to make instant purchases without advice. This is why it is so important that firms' websites are fair, clear and not misleading.'

Fair treatment

Mr Waters added: 'Although many firms' website-based promotions are meeting our requirements, we expect the senior management of all regulated firms to ensure their customers are treated fairly - and we will be looking at promotional websites again early next year to make sure that firms have taken our findings on board and are taking website design seriously.'

The regulator added that it was publishing examples of good and bad promotions to help firms address their failings in website advertising.

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