Regulator raps industry tweeters on product ads

The Financial Services Authority is taking a hard line on mortgage companies advertising products on Twitter.

Mortgage Strategy understands that the regulator has told a number of brokers and distributors to amend or remove tweets on the social networking site.

In June 2010 the FSA said its financial promotion rules apply to new media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and advertising must provide sufficient risk warnings in the same way as ads on other mediums.

Rob Jupp, managing director of Brightstar Financial, which is not authorised to give advice, says he has been contacted by the regulator over a tweet he posted about a mortgage his firm is offering.

He says: “The FSA was concerned that the tweet could have overstepped 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 obviously a big concern for it at the moment.”

Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco, says: “The FSA is right to crack down on firms that are using Twitter to sell their products or services, but most people in the industry use it to comment or provide information on new products. There are more important things the FSA could be focussing on.”

An FSA spokesman says: “The FSA monitors advertising in all media and contacts firms if it sees problems. We know consumers use adverts to shop around for mortgages so we insist that 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.”