How to do your marketing if your business is regulated

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Date: 9 May 2022

A website privacy policy

If you're offering products or services that are regulated, there are certain guidelines that you must adhere to in order to make sure that your marketing is in line with the law.

The identity of your business

On your company website, you are required by law to disclose certain information regarding the identity of your business. This includes the company name, company registered number, place of registration, registered office address and contact information.

Additionally, if you are responsible for the sale of financial products or services, you will need to include your VAT number, details of your FCA approval, and the name of any trade bodies or professional associations that your business is part of.

Balanced statements

If you are selling a financial product or service, you need to include statements which are clearly stated and avoid information that could be misleading to clients. That means that you should avoid any unclear statements, any unsubstantiated claims, any overly optimistic projections or disclaimers that are too small to read.

This also includes making sure that all information on your website is accessible to everyone. For example, you may need to offer text alternatives for non-text content so that it can be converted to other forms such as braille, speech or symbols.

Strong privacy policy

All websites require a privacy policy. A strong privacy policy is especially important if you are dealing with financial products or services. Even where a privacy policy is not required by law, the majority of large-scale third party services, like Apple or Google, require any sites using their services to have privacy policies.

Your privacy policy is a statement which lets users know how your site will collect, handle, and process their data. The policy will need to explicitly state whether or not the data will be kept confidential or whether it will be shared with third parties. Any measures you take to protect the privacy of your client's data will be included here.

GDPR

In accordance with GDPR, there are strict conditions for how websites in the EU draw traffic and gather personal data. It is the responsibility of the site to protect data from any misuse or exploitation. In the case of a data breach, they must notify all users. If GDPR guidelines are not met, there are heavy financial penalties.

Under GDPR, sites must:

  • notify users of a data breach within 72 hours
  • give users a way to consent and withdraw consent to the collection and subsequent use of their data
  • limit the amount of data collection and processing to what is absolutely necessary for the purpose of the business
  • provide users a way to access what information is being collected, processed, and stored
  • set up a role of Data Protection Officer in order to oversee GDPR compliance (if your company is a certain size)
  • only allow employees to access the data if it is strictly necessary for the process

Explicit information

More than ever before, regulators are clamping down on financial services firms and are promoting transparency of information. This means that it is the responsibility of the financial service firms to provide customers with explicit information. They will need to have a key information document displayed on their website for any packaged retail and insurance-based invested products. These documents should be readily available for download and easy to find on your website.

With every product listed, companies need to be transparent about any fees and avoid any promises of guaranteed funds to avoid any product liability.

Warning labels

It is advised that if you are selling a financial product, especially ones that incur interest rates and additional fees, you should also provide a warning label. In the same way that you should advise nutritional information for a food product, your financial products should have a warning label of what could happen should you have to default payments. Suggested warning labels include a breakdown of transactions that could incur extra charges such as calling a live agent, making a withdrawal and monthly maintenance fees, among other things. All of this is designed to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

Transparent fees

When operating in a regulated market, you need to make the pricing of financial products and services fully transparent to avoid any mis-selling or misleading information, even in the case of free services.

A key example of this is bundling of financial products; when bundling, a seller is usually thinking about profit rather than protecting the consumer which can often result in misleading sales. If you are selling multiple products or services, you need to be fully transparent about the price breakdown and the prices of each distinct product.

Commercial partnerships

If you have any commercial relationships with any businesses listed on your website, it is your responsibility to disclose this information in a clear and visible way. This is true for any sponsored content, advertisements or sharing of data with third parties.

Copyright 2022. Article made possible by Tudor Lodge Digital.

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