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Credit Suisse and Yorkshire BS fined for ‘misleading’ marketing

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16/06/2014
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Credit Suisse International (CSI) £2.4m and Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) more than £1.4m for failings related to the promotion of investment products.

Both companies failed to ensure their promotions for CSI’s Cliquet Product, which attracted almost £800m worth of investment, were clear, fair and not misleading.

The product was criticised for promoting its potential maximum return even though the chances of achieving it were “close to 0%”.

The Cliquet Product was designed by CSI to provide capital protection and a guaranteed minimum return with the apparent potential for significantly more if the FTSE 100 performed consistently well.

The probability of achieving the minimum return was 40-50% and the probability of achieving the maximum return was close to 0%. Despite this, CSI’s and YBS’s financial promotions marketed the potential maximum return on the product as a key promotional feature, the FCA determined.

The target market for the Cliquet Product was described by CSI as “stepping stone customers” who were conservative and risk averse.

Tracey McDermott, FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime said:

“It is crucial that firms consider the needs of their customers from the time that products are being designed through to their marketing and sale. The information provided to customers forms an important part of this. Financial promotions are often the primary source of information for consumers and in this case CSI and YBS let their customers down badly. These promotions were a serious breach of the requirement to be clear, fair and not misleading.

“CSI and YBS knew that the chances of receiving the maximum return were close to zero but they nevertheless highlighted this as a key promotional feature of the product. This was unacceptable.”

 

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