ASIC weighs in on financial advertising best practices

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has just made available a new draft regulatory guide which sets out best practice guidance for the advertising of financial products and advice.

The guide is designed to ensure investors and consumers are left informed and confident by financial advertising, with ASIC recognising the role it plays in assisting them to make important financial decisions.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft said he hopes the guide will help promoters and publishers present advertisements that are accurate, balanced and help consumers make decisions that are appropriate for them.

“While our guidance covers issues of good practice in advertising, it may also help promoters and publishers comply with their legal obligations not to make false or misleading statements or engage in misleading or deceptive conduct. Our guidance also indicates to industry the types of advertisements we may focus on more closely.”

Amongst a range of other issues, the guide looks at the impact an increasing use of new technologies, such as the internet and social media, is having on the way financial product and advice services promoters interact with potential customers

“New media has given industry more channels through which product distributors can contact customers and these channels can raise specific issues,” it said.

For example, social media can create a ‘high trust’ environment not present in traditional media, and “this may affect a consumer’s critical engagement with advertisements and their impressions of advertisements in social media.”

“Other new media channels have content limitations, which mean there can be insufficient space to give a balanced message.”

Medcraft said the guide also contains real examples of where the regulator has raised concerns with the promoters of financial products and services, and their advertisements have been changed as a result.

Comments on the consultation paper and draft regulatory guide are due by 25 October 2011, and it can be viewed here.

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