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Beware of ‘fin-fluencers’ as financial watchdog sees surge in misleading ads

Written by: Shekina Tuahene
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has named ‘fin-fluencers’ (social media-based financial 'influencers') as a growing concern, after it blocked thousands of misleading adverts last year.

In 2022, the regulator asked firms to amend or remove 8,582 promotions, 14 times more than in 2021. More than 1,800 alerts warning consumers of financial scams were also published. 

The regulator said social media was a “major focus” in tackling misleading adverts and promotions. The FCA has worked with some tech companies to change their advertising policies so only financial promotions which are approved by authorised firms are allowed. 

It said these changes allowed the regulator to work through a greater number of cases in 2022. 

Beware of influencers

The regulator said unauthorised people should not advise on the benefits of certain investments as this could lead to action being taken against them. The FCA noted that it had already acted against several social media influencers in the last year. 

One case included the director of a regulated firm using their own profile to promote the advice of unauthorised traders and other financial products. The person was blocked from using their personal social media to promote financial services and their firm was made to suspend any financial promotions. 

FCA finding misleading ads quicker

The regulator is currently consulting on bringing in tougher checks for firms that want to approve financial promotions to make sure any harmful ads are blocked sooner. 

Sarah Pritchard, executive director, markets at the FCA, said: “Our expectations remain the same. Financial promotions must be fair, clear and not misleading. What has changed is the FCA’s approach. By drawing on better technology, we’re finding poor quality or misleading ads quicker. And where we find them, we’re stepping in to make firms improve them or remove them entirely.  

“This year, we will continue to put the pressure on people using social media to illegally promote investments, which put people’s hard-earned money at risk.” 

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