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FCA urges online platforms to step up check on financial ads

They should cross reference data with international regulators, watchdog CEO says


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is urging online search engines like Google to improve their controls on paid-for promotions of financial products.

FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi said such companies should voluntarily take immediate action on the matter.

The call comes shortly after a report on the watchdogs handling of the London Capital & Finance (LCF) mini-bond scandal revealed several regulatory “mistakes”.

“We believe some considerable effort could be put in to deal with how these are screened before they are allowed to advertise, with cross referencing with data bases that we run and international regulators run as well,” Rathi said.

He added that these measures “can be taken now”.

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International Adviser reported last year that the FCA was working with Google to develop technology that will see the online giant check whether a firm advertising on its platform is regulated and authorised by the FCA.

Since taking the top job in October 2020, Rathi has met with the US tech giant twice. “There is a constructive discussion going on. I think what’s important is action in this online space as well,” he said.

According to newswire Reuters, Google has recently updated its policies to restrict the rates of return a firm can advertise and ban terms that allude to unrealistic claims.

Meanwhile, the FCA has been forced to pay for its own advertisement on the online platform to counteract fraudulent promotions, which cost the regulator £90,000 ($121,000, €100,000) between January and March 2020 alone.

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