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FSA warns on “significant minority” of website promotions

The FSA has warned that a quarter of financial firm’s websites are failing to present information to the consumer in a fair, clear and not misleading way.

The review involved 130 visits to 77 firms’ websites and concluded that although the majority of firms met FSA financial promotions requirements, 25 per cent failed to do so.

The FSA says a “significant minority” of firms websites did not show accurate information. Failings included information that was not in accordance with current market conditions, headline claims that were not substantiated or substantiation not placed close to the claim itself.

The FSA found it difficult to find key information for certain firms as fees and exclusions were hidden within the website or placed in a separate section such as FAQs.

Other failings included risk warnings not clearly presented, poor use of font or colour, firms not taking into account the different sized browsers of consumers when positioning information and risk information not being relevant to the particular product.

The FSA has contacted individual firms that had concerning results and they have been asked to make changes to their websites.

FSA director of retail policy and themes Dan Waters says: “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.

“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.”

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