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FSA cracks down on tweets

The FSA is taking a hard line on financial services firms advertising products on Twitter.

Money Marketing’s sister publication Mortgage Strategy reports the regulator has told a number of brokers and distributors to amend or remove tweets on the social networking website. Money Marketing understands the regulator’s concerns extend to other areas of financial services.

In a financial promotions industry update published in June 2010, the FSA said that its financial promotion rules apply to new media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in the same way as adverts made using any other medium.

It said that because Twitter limits the number of characters that can be used, posts on this site may be an insufficient means of providing balanced and sufficient information.

It is in this area that some brokers are understood to be falling foul of the regulator.

The FSA is also coming down hard on unregulated distributors, telling them they need to make it clear in all promotions, including on Twitter, that they are not authorised to give advice.

Rob Jupp, managing director at Brightstar Financial, says he has been contacted by the regulator over a tweet he posted about a mortgage product his firm is offering from Saffron Building Society.

He says: “The FSA was concerned this tweet could have been overstepping the line into offering advice, but it was clearly written in trade lingo and only aimed at brokers, not consumers.

“The FSA conceded my point and I have no criticism of its decision to contact me, but Twitter is clearly a big issue with the regulator at the moment and advisers need to be aware that they could be overstepping the mark when they discuss products on Twitter.”

A spokesman for the FSA says: “The FSA monitors advertising in all media and we contact firms if we see problems. We know that consumers use adverts to help them shop around for mortgages so we insist that any financial promotions must be clear, fair and not misleading. There are a handful of exceptions but, generally speaking, mortgage adverts need a prominent risk warning.”

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Comments

There are 21 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Tweet ‘Mortgage – YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE’

    OK what else shall I say in the 51 characters I have left!!!!

  2. A trader at UBS loses £1.2 billion.

    Never mind we will stop these buggers using twitter though!!!!

  3. Twitter is, as the name implies, chit chat. As Doug has shown at 1.15, it can give only an indication of a possible option.

    Only an imbecile would consider it to amount to a personal recommendation.

    Perhaps the FSA have concluded that the Twitterers ARE imbeciles.

    I wonder if it takes one to know one?

  4. Everyone shoud know Principle 6 is all about Tweeting Customers Fairly

  5. I didn’t realize it was the 1st April

  6. Its weird because the collective term for people who tweet is twats and the collective term for the FSA is……i’ll let you work that one out

  7. Well done FSA you have spent time and energy and stamped down on Twitter, but whilst you have been doing that you have no doubt missed a multi million pound fraud.
    I think everyone in the UK knows your home is at risk if you don’t pay the mortgage, treatly customers fairly is one think but treating them as numbskulls is offensive. ps I,m not an advisor.

  8. Maybe we could tweet the FSA the names of central bankers & ‘elite’ CEO’s that were never brought to justice for their reckless behaviour, which has caused serious damage to millions of people (not just investors). Maybe not, that would involve doing some real work & upsetting the ones that control them.

  9. You know, it always boils down to the FSA using draconian methods on IFAs, bit like lions singling out a loan animal from the heard and then savaging it to death. I don’t understand why media like Panorama or other investigative media haven’t done a programme on this and then showing the relationships between the FSA & bankers & politicians and how they are in each others pockets and immune to regulation and how the general public are being fleeced whilst IFAs (their champions & protectors) are being put out of business.

  10. I like the FSA – the stuff they do is a constant reminder to me about why i don’t work in the public sector – And they only have four objectives – one of which is this
    financial stability – contributing to the protection and enhancement of stability of the UK financial system

    So as our system goes into free fall does anyone think they are achieving this today?

  11. Only on a Friday afternoon.

    We are paying these people to trawl through twatter sites?????

    Next on the agenda – paying them to sit in pubs and listen in on peoples conversations.

  12. FSA hatches cunning plan to catch twits while the markets are in free fall and the world is on the brink of global economic meltdown
    Wow we can all rest easy tonight knowing we are in safe hands.t

  13. Just so we don’t miss the irony of this,the FSA spokesperson stated, quite correctly, “any financial promotions must be clear, fair and not misleading.” yet they support the promotion of a Money Advice Service which is specifically barred from giving advice about money.
    Is there anyone on the planet with an IQ not in single digits that doesn’t think this proves the FSA are utterly incompetent?
    Note to anyone from the FSA, “not in single digits” means above 9. Ask your mummies to explain the long words.

  14. “Woolwich Offset Mortgages” around the ground at White Hart Lane on Sky TV? Acceptable?

  15. john joe mcginley 24th September 2011 at 6:59 am

    We need some common sense here. What is Twitter? it is a social media conversation tool. Most Tweets that discuss an offer due to the limitations of 140 characters link to a web page. Using a tool such as bit.ly allows you to include a URL and still have a chat. The web page should be where the FSA concentrate their minds.

    The FSA has to ensure that they embrace the new world not strangle it in red tape.

  16. It’s curious that the FSA should be vigilant about the content of items on Twitter when it is not in the least concerned about the monumental drivel that occurs in the UK media on matters financial.
    Did anyone see the headlines on the FT Weekend Money supplement this weekend. The Money Management survey on which it is based is so sloppy that the finance industry should take if to court for slander, and the FT (who own Money Management) exacerbate the inaccurate presentation by presenting most of the fiction as fact.
    The FSA is charged to maintain market confidence. Undermining public confidence in savings products by the publication of mischievous and misleading articles should fall under this heading.
    Curious how they continue to search diligently for the speck of dust when a mountain of poo is staring them in the face.

  17. If you read these comments you will understand why I despair of our profession. This is a non story, social media has always been subject to promotional regulations and the FSA clearly has been checking up and rightly so. If nothing else this article is a reminder to those that use Twitter etc. that they need to be careful how they use it.
    However, I wish I could be so reassured that the FSA chase up of those who try to flog SIPPs and unlock their pension when I report them…..

  18. I used to wonder who was reading the torrent of rubbish on Twitter..

    I still wonder how the twitterers find the time to write it… and more to the point.. WHY

  19. To address one point, you can easily set up key word searches on Twitter, so manpower used for this initial ‘crackdown’ could be minimal.

    What would be nice is if the FSA gave examples of what is and isn’t acceptable, and clear guidance.

    However, their toe-dipping on this so far suggests they don’t really know themselves.

  20. A tweet is treated by the FSA correctly a customer communication and a promotion and is governed by COBS 4 and Principle 7 and is not a personal recommendation. The FSA has previously warned firms in a paper on this subject of the difficulties of using twitter and other instant media while complying with the requirements of “clear, fair and not misleading”.

  21. The FSA is dead next year. I am sure that the Prudential Regulation Authority (or whatever organisation will oversee this particular issue of social media) will be a little more enlightened.

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