Non-compliant ads still blight industry

It was soon clear that many of the advertisements placed after M-Day were non-compliant. What is shocking is that many are still non- compliant 12 months on.

Over the past year many surveys have been carried out into this issue. I’m not sure why this still goes on as the financial promotions rules are pretty clear and prescriptive. And there was a grace period provided to allow copy to be adjusted. The FSA gave firms until the end of this January to make the necessary adjustments. This was then extended until the end of October for annually adjusted items such as listings in directories.

But there still seems to be a problem. Open any consumer magazine or newspaper and you will find advertisements that are either totally or partially non-compliant.

Estimates as to the extent of the problem differ but the consensus is that up to one-third of all adverts fail the compliance test.

As always, there have been differing approaches to the adoption of the rules. Some have clearly ignored the financial promotions guidance and have no intention of following it until compelled. Others are simply not applying the rules correctly.

There’s no doubt the situation has improved since last year but not as fast as it should have done.

And the finger can’t be pointed in just one direction. Lenders, intermediaries, directly authorised firms and appointed representatives have all advertised non-compliantly.

Be sure the FSA monitors advertisements and, following the extended period of grace, its activity will increase. It has been clear that it will assess the breach and decide what the damage to the customer could be.

As a guiding principle, that all advertising should be clear, fair and not misleading is a good starting point. The FSA has powers to deal with non-compliant advertising that range from a request not to run the advert again to a referral to the enforcement team.

There are many ways adverts can be reported to the FSA, whistle blowing being just one.

The FSA offers help to advertisers on the phone and online. Guidance is just a phone call away. This makes the level of non-compliant advertising even more of a concern.

The issue must be given much more publicity. Non- compliant advertising must disappear – and quick. simon biddle is head of marketing and communications at Infinity Mortgages