Is your website following financial promotion rules?

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Financial promotions encompass a variety of things. Although many companies may think that they do not do any financial promotions, they are often mistaken. A financial promotion can include a variety of different things, such as a company website, suitability reports, social media posts, correspondence with clients and many more things. The official definition of financial promotion, according to The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is any type of promotional communication which tries to invite or convince a client to make a financial purchase of any good or service.

There are two separate categories for financial promotions: real time and non-real time.

Real time promotions are interactive and in the moment promotions which are conveyed in a personal visit, phone call or some other kind of dialogue. There is a slight difference in the regulation of real time promotions compared to any other financial promotions given the difficulty of finding a simple compliance solution for communications of this type.

Because of this, real time financial promotions are not able to be pre-approved, therefore they should make sure that they are fair, easy to understand and not misleading.

A non-real time promotion is one which does not feature any interactive communication. This can include many common marketing strategies, from emails, texts and letters to adverts, websites and other forms of digital media.

Given the compliance requirement for ‘clear’ information, websites are often one of the main problem areas when it comes to financial promotion. Often, websites will be full of difficult to read and densely packed information that is full of technical jargon and unnecessary information.

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Keep all of the information on your website understandable, easy to find and relevant. Don’t keep information on your website that is old or out of date, regularly revise information that is changeable and proofread any information-heavy sections to ensure they are clear enough.

Consider how everything on your website is worded. Make sure not to word valuable information such as case studies in a way that may encourage clients to take any action without taking the time to get proper investment advice. It is recommended that any case studies or information like this that features on your website will come with a disclaimer stating that any provided information is not an offer and is not recommended to be relied upon. Remind readers that qualified advisers should always be conferred with to serve as proper guidance when making any financial decisions.

Keep a keen eye on any links on your website, particularly those used for search engine optimisation, to make sure they are still relevant and functional. Make sure every link comes with a warning that it will be directing people to an external site so that they can make a decision themselves on whether they click or not.

It is worth noting that all websites should ask for clear consent from users to collect cookies data. Make sure that anyone visiting your website understands what information will be collected and what it is you intend to do with that data.

In terms of social media practices, it can be an extremely complicated field to navigate. Although the immediacy that comes with social media can be essential when creating a successful promotion strategy, it can make navigating compliance terms hard work. Make sure that any posts that go through your company are in compliance with financial promotion rules, and construct a clear and in-depth social media plan to ensure that everyone involved in these campaigns knows exactly what is expected and understands guidelines. This is also the case when sharing other people’s posts – so tread carefully.

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