FCA intervenes in price comparison advertising campaign

In December 2013, MoneySuperMarket.com Financial Group Limited completed a Voluntary Application for Imposition of Requirement, which was subsequently published by the FCA.

03 January 2014

In December 2013, the price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.com Financial Group Limited (MSM) completed a Voluntary Application for Imposition of Requirement (the 'Voluntary Application'), which set out an acknowledgement of an infringement of the financial promotion rules by MSM. The Voluntary Application was subsequently published by the FCA.

MSM accepted the FCA's allegations that, between 11 August 2013 and 28 October 2013, it had run advertisements which formed part of a wider campaign that were capable of more than one interpretation by consumers. Specifically, the advertisements created the impression that MSM was cheaper than other leading comparison sites more than 50% of the time when in fact, it was cheaper than the competitor sites 34% of the time.

Following discussions with the FCA, MSM has agreed not to broadcast or publish the advertisements in the same form in the future and to display the following statement in a prominent manner on its Home and Car Insurance pages for four weeks:

'The Financial Conduct Authority considers our recent advertising campaign did not fully meet the standards that they expect for such advertisements. The FCA is concerned that the adverts created an incorrect impression that MoneySuperMarket is cheaper than other leading comparison sites more than 50% of the time.'

This forms part of the thematic review of price comparison websites currently being conducted. It also gives some early indications of the FCA’s new approach to intervention in relation to financial promotions. The Regulator has engaged with the firm and reached an agreement for voluntary withdrawal of the non-compliant promotion. The requirement for MSM to publish the statement regarding the non-compliance looks to be part of the FCA’s continuing attempt to create credible deterrence for other firms.

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David Hall

David Hall Partner

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