The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has set aside £3.6m for consumer awareness projects ahead of plans which could see the organisation focus on investment products for the first time and launch an ‘FSCS protected’ badge.
Options as part of its consumer awareness work include TV programme sponsorship and radio advertising, potentially with the use of celebrities, and a new ‘FSCS protected’ badge on firms’ marketing materials. Programme sponsorship, which is not expected to be in place until next year, will be subject to board approval.
The total FSCS budget for consumer awareness for 2014/15 is £3.6m. The FSCS set aside £3m for consumer awareness for 2013/14, as part of an overall £3.6m budget spread over 15 months.
The FSCS’ Icons of Protection’ campaign, which has been running since August, features the BBC’s Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Campaigns are paid for by the relevant industry sector as part of the FSCS management expenses levy.
In the past advisers have criticised the FSCS for its spend on marketing. The FSCS scrapped a £4m advertising campaign in September 2011 after admitting it did not have the desired impact on consumer awareness.
In what will be its first departure from deposit protection campaigns, the FSCS is looking at ideas for how to promote FSCS protection on insurance, and later investment products.
The FSCS is in discussions with industry bodies including Apfa over the best approach to take on investments.
The FSCS is set to launch the “FSCS-protected” badge – which will differ from its logo and aims to give consumers confidence in the same way the ATOL logo does for holidays – later this year on deposit takers’ promotional materials. It may later extend it to investment firms.
FSCS chief executive Mark Neale says: “We need to move on from raising awareness of deposit protection.
“But the messages on investments are much more complicated – it is not as straightforward as saying your deposit is protected up to £85,000. That is why we want to engage with the industry.”
The £3.6m total budget for consumer awareness includes £3.1m for advertising, as well as £320,000 on industry stakeholder work – which includes developing the badge – and £180,000 on PR.
Apfa director general Chris Hannant says: “Big expensive advertising campaigns are not appropriate for the FSCS.
“The best approach is to develop materials that advisers can incorporate easily into their communications with clients.
“Care needs to be taken with the badge to ensure clients do not think investments are risk-free.”