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FSA cracks down on tweets

The Financial Services Authority is believed to be taking a hard line on mortgage firms 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 website.

In a financial promotions industry update published in June 2010, the FSA said that its financial promotion rules apply to new media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in the same way as adverts made using any other medium.

It said that because Twitter limits the number of characters that can be used, posts on this site may be an insufficient means of providing balanced and sufficient information.

It is in this area that some brokers are understood to be falling foul of the regulator.

The FSA is also coming down hard on unregulated distributors, telling them they need to make it clear in all promotions, including on Twitter, that they are not authorised to give advice.

Rob Jupp, managing director at Brightstar Financial, says he has been contacted by the regulator over a tweet he posted about a mortgage product his firm is offering from Saffron Building Society.

He says: “The FSA was concerned this tweet could have been overstepping 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 clearly a big issue with the regulator at the moment and advisers need to be aware that they could be overstepping the mark when they discuss products on Twitter.”

A spokesman for the FSA, says: “The FSA monitors advertising in all media and we contact firms if we see problems. We know that consumers use adverts to help them shop around for mortgages so we insist that any 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.”

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  • Nigel Wain 22nd November 2011 at 11:36 am

    I understand the need to have disclaimers etc but its getting to the point where 50% of an advert can be taken up with these. Are we now saying that out of 160 characters on twitter 159 of them need to be disclaimers. Plus its a tough market and brokers need a cost effective way of getting their name out there. Lets have some common sense please FSA

  • BC 26th September 2011 at 8:58 am

    Of course everyone should have the reams of regulatory info that accompanies such things as an OMO – everyone reads it all and then never sticks with the poor deal their pension provider offers, oh hang on…..

  • Alex Lambden 23rd September 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I work for a network and from a compliance point of view tweets are very difficult to regulate. Every adviser would have to submit their tweet to us first for approval – which as you can imagine would create a huge ammount of extra work. It’s a shame really because twitter is a brilliant way to communicate.

  • Norman Stanley Fletcher 23rd September 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Shouldn’t this headline read ‘FSA staff member finds good excuse to spend all day dossing about on Twitter?’

  • Toddy 23rd September 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I think anybody writing about regulated financial products at all should have statutory warnings at the bottom of it. Therefore, this would include any journalist writing or tweeting should have a statement saying that they are not regulated by the FSA and are not authorised to give advise.

  • Harry Palmer 23rd September 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Hope this isn’t used by all those who harp on about how essential it is to get full advice! Anyone using Twitter to try and provide ‘help’ is walking blindly through a regulatory minefield. How can you possibly make all the appropriate caveats in 160 characters?

  • KOP 23rd September 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Oh for Gods sake FSA get yuor noses into something more sinsiter like Banks paying fat cats and still letting traders earn £ms and pay less tax than the cleaners of the offices they trade from- Oh and yes get off your smartphones you Twitters!
    Walk on!

  • Stuart Gregory 23rd September 2011 at 12:18 pm

    So…

    Martin Lewis (from Money Saving Expert) and Paul Lewis (from R4 Moneybox) can tweet openly about financial matters – even though they are not regulated to discuss financial matters by the FSA…but we’re not?

    Paul Lewis was openly advising readers of tweets to purchase NS&I bonds a few weeks ago.

    Sledgehammer and nut springs to mind.

    No mortgage adviser I know is stupid enough to advise on deals via Twitter.

    Credit us with some intelligence FSA.

    What the FSA is saying is promote in traditional methods only – spending thousands that you can’t afford in the current market.

    Another knife in the back of mortgage brokers.

    Don’t get me started on overzealous Compliance Departments as well…who wouldn’t know Twitter if it pecked them on the nose.

    Just call me Victor Meldrew. I’m off to work for Tesco.

  • martin wilson 23rd September 2011 at 12:14 pm

    what a bunch of tweets