The Financial Times last week reported that some of the world’s largest consumer products groups are delaying payments to advertising agencies and commodity producers for up to six months, squeezing cash flows and causing alarm at critical points in their supply chains.
Here in the UK some lucky advertising agencies have been paid a combined fee of over £1m to rebrand the FSA to the FCA as unveiled on April Fool’s day earlier this year.
A freedom of information request submitted by Panacea Adviser owner Derek Bradley shows the FCA spent £723,526 on its new website, £40,347.68 on stationery, £48,000 on its “brand identity”, £91,000 developing its “brand guidelines” and £57,000 on registering the new logo and on legal fees to resolve registration issues.
The FCA also spent £101,000 on the design, legal fees and development of the FCA handbook on the new site.
What I don’t understand is that this is a rebrand, not a launch. The brand name changes an S to a C and the content for the website and stationary already existed and was coded. The new FCA website functionality looks and feels very similar to the FSA website.
The FCA says: “Several agencies submitted quotes for the work on both the brand identity and website design and in both instances we chose the agency that offered the best value for money.”
How on earth would you spend £723,526 on a rebrand of an existing website?
The FCA defends the spending by saying its staff, firms, markets and consumers need to understand its new objectives.
I just searched through Google for the FCA objectives. Listed sixth in the listing was the FCA (very expensive) website saying the objectives are the same as most regulators. Why is the search engine optimisation for the FCA so poor in this instance with law firms listing higher than the FCA?
I have worked with dozens of financial services advertising agencies and currently control and update the content of three websites. SEO listing is one of the most important things about any website. Users will click through the first few listings on a Google search page then move on.
On the Money Marketing website there are over a dozen comments on this expenditure making it one of the most commented news stories last week. Comments include “the only things that have changed are the chief executive and the logo”. As Harry Katz says: “The one thing these guys don’t know about financial advice is how to spend less”.
Regulatory fees increase for members whilse many financial services companies are still cutting staff and reducing expenditure due to the economic back ground and the onerous implications of the RDR.
The FCA is bound by The Regulators’ Compliance Code which is a statutory code of practice intended to encourage regulators to achieve their objectives in a way that minimises the burdens on business.
The purpose of the code is to embed a risk-based, proportionate, targeted and flexible approach to regulatory inspection and enforcement among the regulators to which it applies. This approach will ensure that regulators are efficient and effective in their work, without imposing unnecessary burdens on those they regulate.
I remind myself that the FCA money spent with marketing agencies is not the FCA’s own money, it’s ours, the businesses of the industry.
Kim North (email@example.com) is director of guidetoadvice.co.uk