The UK Financial Conduct Authority has been called upon to reassess its approach to regulating online investment tools, following the release of research highlighting disclosure concerns.
Research conducted by British financial information provider Boring Money on behalf of the Financial Services Consumer Panel – a statutory body that advises the FCA – has found that “many online investment firms” are falling short on a number of key consumer protection metrics.
The study found that robo-advice providers failed to clearly communicate whether the advice provided was regulated or not, to disclose relevant costs and charges and to use language that consumers might reasonably understand.
In addition, the panel called on the FCA to enforce existing regulations governing online investment tools, as well as to develop a framework for product providers to adopt language that is less reliant on complex industry jargon.
“More and more people with relatively small amounts of money to invest are turning to online investment services, many of them with cash they have released under pensions freedoms,” said the consumer panel chair Sue Lewis.
“They need to know exactly what they are buying, what it costs, and what happens if something goes wrong. Most online firms are not giving them this information clearly, most of the time. It is obvious these firms do not have a clue how to communicate in a way their customers understand. The FCA should enforce its rules in this area vigorously, whether firms are giving regulated advice or not, before more people who can ill afford it lose out.”
The report comes as ASIC announces a ‘regulatory sandbox’ approach to fintech licensing.