On 14 February 2024, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a press release outlining its progress in stopping misleading advertisements and promotions. The press release was published in conjunction with its financial promotions quarterly data for Q4 2023 and its financial promotions data for all of 2023.

The data reveals that during 2023, over 10,000 financial advertisements and other promotions were withdrawn or altered over the course of 2023, following intervention from the FCA. This was an increase of 17%, year on year. Furthermore in 2023, the FCA identified unauthorised activity relating to debt solutions, engaged with 43 unauthorised firms and issued 30 alerts, including requesting website and/or social media account suspension where appropriate. The FCA also notes that, after being given new powers by the Government, it has focused on illegal cryptoasset promotions to UK consumers and issued 450 alerts between 8 October 2023 and 31 December 2023.

The press release highlights the FCA’s concern at the rise of influencers promoting financial products (known as ‘Finfluencers’), including credit and investments, on social media which often targets younger age groups. As of 7 February 2024, authorised firms need permission from the FCA if they want to approve promotions for unregulated persons, to ensure firms approving financial promotions have the required competence and expertise for the promotions being offered.

The FCA notes that this is underpinned by the Consumer Duty, which entered into force in July 2023 and requires firms to demonstrate that consumers are receiving information that helps them make effective and informed decisions about financial products and services.

Lucy Castledine, Director of Consumer Investments at the FCA, confirmed that the regulatorwill continue to intervene and take action when we identify firms not meeting our minimum standards”.