On 7 March 2024, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a statement regarding changes to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005 (FPO).

The statement highlights that the FCA and industry implemented the changes to the high net worth exemption by 31 January 2024, as required under the law. The changes were taken forward after detailed consultation and recommendations made by the Treasury Select Committee in 2021 that the Government should re-evaluate the appropriateness of the FPO exemptions. The FCA confirms that it will continue to work with the Government on how the financial promotions regime can be strengthened to avoid consumer harm, while ensuring access to sustainable sources of investment for growing businesses.  

The FCA also notes that it would be happy to provide support as part of a detailed examination of the potential impact of any reversal. It references a previous FCA letter, where it set out that the UK’s definition of a high net worth investor is an international outlier, with a far lower threshold than comparable jurisdictions.

In the FCA’s last perimeter report, it suggested the criteria for investors to be classified as ‘sophisticated’ should be tightened to avoid the risk, which has occurred in many situations of investment fraud or misconduct, of ordinary investors self-classifying. It warns that this often happens under pressure or through coaching, and buying risky investments that do not match their appetite or capacity for loss.