FCA sets out proposals to strengthen its financial promotion rules for high-risk investments

On 29 April 2021, following feedback to its Call for Input (CFI) on Consumer Investments, the FCA has published proposals to strengthen its financial promotion rules for high-risk investments to help retail investors make more effective decisions.

The discussion paper focuses on 3 main areas where the FCA intends to strengthen its financial promotion rules to help investors make more effective decisions that meet their savings and investment needs:

  • The classification of high-risk investments: The FCA’s classification of investments determines the level of marketing restrictions that applies to that investment. The FCA is seeking views on whether more types of investments should be subject to marketing restrictions and what marketing restrictions should apply, for example for equity shares and Peer-to-Peer agreements.
  • Further segmenting the high-risk investments market: The FCA is concerned that despite its existing marketing restrictions, too many consumers are still investing in inappropriate high-risk investments which do not meet their needs. Therefore, the FCA plans to strengthen its rules to further segment high-risk investments from other investments and is seeking views on how best to achieve this. The FCA is considering what improvements could be made to risk warnings, which are often perceived as white noise to many investors and often do not convey the genuine possibility of an investment loss. Other suggestions in the paper include requiring consumers to watch educational videos or to pass an online test to demonstrate sufficient knowledge about financial products. This could help prevent consumers from simply clicking through and accessing high-risk investments that they do not understand.
  • The approval of financial promotions: Firms which approve financial promotions for unauthorised persons play a key role in ensuring those promotions meet the standards we expect. The FCA is seeking views on whether there should be more requirements for these firms to monitor a financial promotion on an ongoing basis, after approval, to ensure it remains clear, fair and not misleading.

The FCA is inviting feedback on its discussion paper by 1 July 2021.