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Focus on FSA rules is risk for ad campaigns

Commercial law firm Beachcroft says a focus by compliance officers on approving financial advertising campaigns by reference only to the FSA handbook means “devastating risks” are being overlooked.

The law firm says that other controls designed to protect the consumer set by bodies such as the ASA may be being missed.

The Advertising Standards Authority got 320 complaints about 220 financial promotions in 2008, according to figures obtained by Beachcroft.

Partner Robin Fry says: “Consumers are extremely ready to complain but it is clear that, for many, their first port of call is now to the ASA rather than the FSA.

“In considering whether an advertisement or promotion is in fact fully cleared, compliance needs to accommodate over 20 sets of laws ranging from the FSA’s principles to copyright to the use of pictures of bank notes.

“The list is getting longer each year and, with the business always pushing for more imaginative advertising, a traditional approval that a promotion is simply ‘fair, clear and not misleading’ may not be enough. Focus on the FSA rules alone will miss other restrictions, with the devastating risk that carefully developed TV and press advertising has to be withdrawn mid-campaign.”

Bill Warren Compliance managing director Bill Warren says: “Regulated firms have been hammered away at by the FSA and so are hyper-conscious of enforcement. As a result, I think they focus on FSA requirements above everything else when they should really be looking wider as well.”

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