Financial Spreads Affiliate Guidelines
Updated: 16 Aug 2016
- All communication, advertising and promotion of Financial Spreads, irrespective of format, must be "Clear, fair and not misleading".
- From an affiliate point of view, all communication, advertising ad promotion of Financial Spreads is likely to be classed as a 'Financial Promotion' by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- The FCA provides strict guidelines on Financial Promotions (and therefore how to promote financial spread betting and CFDs). We have endeavoured to interpret these for you in this document.
- All adverts made available to affiliates via the Financial Spreads affiliate website, FinancialAffiliates.net, are compliant with the FCA guidelines.
- Financial Spreads is a trading name of Clear Investor Ltd. which is an appointed representative of FINSA Europe Ltd., company no: 07073413. FINSA Europe Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the FCA. As part of our regulatory obligations we must ensure that our graphics (banners, buttons, logos etc), editorial, offers, emails and any other advertising / promotional material are clear, fair and not misleading.
- Putting up an advert, text link or content such as a review of Financial Spreads constitutes a 'Financial Promotion' under the FCA Rules. Affiliates must ensure that if and when they carry out any kind of promotion of Financial Spreads, they adhere to these guidelines and promote Financial Spreads in a legal manner.
- If you would like Financial Spreads to check any advertising / promotional material before you make it available on your website or otherwise make it available to the general public please email us stating:
- Your contact details
- The advertising / promotional material you would like to use
- Where you plan to use the advertising / promotional material
- If a Financial Promotion does not meet the criteria in these guidelines, it cannot be used.
- If a Financial Promotion stops meeting the criteria in these guidelines it must be withdrawn in a timely manner.
- If we see that you are using non compliant advertising / promotional material to promote Financial Spreads we will ask you to alter it immediately. If you do not do so then we are unfortunately required to suspend and/or close your affiliate account.
- You may by liable to prosecution by the FCA if you produce non complaint advertising / promotional material.
- Financial Spreads will not tolerate spam, fraud or any other such illegal activity.
- As per the affiliate terms and conditions, we will not pay commissions to affiliates that promote Financial Spreads but do not follow these guidelines, the FCA guidelines or our affiliate terms and conditions.
- Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any more guidance.
- A 'Financial Promotion'
The FCA's definition of a 'Financial Promotion' is:
"A financial promotion is a communication that is an invitation or an inducement to engage in investment activity."
The FCA state that financial promotions should be clear, fair and not misleading.
"Clear and not misleading": This means any advertising / promotional material relating to Financial Spreads has to be substantiated. We cannot claim that Financial Spreads are the best or fastest or cheapest without proof.
"Fair": this means that if you say something positive, you must balance it with the negative. Therefore, whilst financial spread betting and CFD trading have many positives, investors can also lose money than they deposited. The negative information such as this must be presented in the main body of any advertising / promotional material, in the same font size and colour as the rest of your advert. You cannot hide any issues or negative statements in a footnote.
It is important not confuse a Financial Promotion with a client offer e.g. a deposit bonus promotion.
Again, a Financial Promotion is any "communication that is an invitation or an inducement to engage in investment activity." irrespective of whether of there is a client offer or not in the communication.
Making sure promotions and adverts are fair, clear and not misleading is one of the regulator's key objectives.
This means not making claims about Financial Spreads that can't be substantiated, or that might not be easily-understood by your audience.
- Risk Warnings
Risk warnings are an essential part of a financial promotion, they help to highlight the risks and give balance to financial promotion.
If in doubt, add the following risk warning to your content.
"Spread betting and CFD trading are leveraged products which carry a high level of risk to your capital. You can lose more than your initial deposit so you should ensure spread betting, CFD trading meet your investment objectives and, if necessary, seek independent advice."
- Risk warnings cannot be small print or otherwise hidden at the bottom of a webpage. The risk warning must sit within the body of the Financial Promotion and be in the same font, font size and font colour as the main text of a Financial Promotion.
- Always add a risk warning of "Losses can exceed deposits" next to any text links to Financial Spreads.
- If there isn't room for a clear risk warning then you cannot use or create a Financial Promotion.
- If you create content e.g. a review of Financial Spreads then ensure your content has appropriate risk warns next to every link to Financial Spreads.
If you have a text link at the top of a review then you will also need at a risk warning of "losses can exceed deposits" next to the risk warning.
Having the long risk warning at the bottom of the review is not sufficient if you have links to Financial Spreads at the top of the review.
- The banners supplied via FinancialAffiliates.net contain sufficient risk warnings.
- Transparency Notice:
You must, at all times, be clear about who the client will be making their relationship with and therefore all materials promoting Financial Spreads must carry a 'Transparency Notice' of:
"Financial Spreads is a trading name of Clear Investor Ltd. which is an appointed representative of FINSA Europe Ltd., company no: 07073413. FINSA Europe Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registered number 525164. Registered Address: Office 701, Tower Bridge Business Centre, 46-48 East Smithfield, London E1W 1AW, UK. "
- Transparency Notice Placement
This must be clearly legible. However it can be placed at the bottom of the advertising / promotional material and can have a smaller font size and be stated in a different colour to the main text.
- About Financial Promotions
Below are key areas that affiliates need to know about Financial Promotions.
- What Constitutes a 'Financial Promotion'?
- The FCA defines a financial promotion as "an invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity that is communicated in the course of business".
- In practice, this means any form of advertising or communications with prospective clients and it includes:
- Print, online, television and radio adverts
- Marketing brochures and literature
- Direct mail
- Web content
- Email Marketing
- Social media
- Sales aids, such as presentations
Within this, there are a couple of specific definitions of direct-offer financial promotions (a communication which specifically encourages anyone who responds to enter into a direct agreement with the firm) and real-time financial promotions.
- Why Are Financial Promotions So Heavily Regulated?
According to the FCA, "Financial promotions may be the consumer's main or only source of information that they base their decisions on."
This is a particular risk in the financial services sector because of the complex and often long-term nature of financial products.
The FCA's objective for financial promotions is to ensure that they are "fair, clear and not misleading".
Any promotions that fail to meet these requirements can be a risk to consumers if they result in people buying/using the wrong product for their needs.
- Real Time Financial Promotions
According to the FCA, a Real Time Financial Promotion is "a financial promotion made in the course of a personal visit, telephone conversation or other interactive dialogue".
These are regulated slightly differently, as there is recognition by the FCA that real-time conversations, whether in person, by phone or email, cannot be compliance-approved in the same way as published communications.
Important: Affiliates should not engage in any real time financial promotion unless they have specific authorisation from the FCA that allows them to do so.
- Social Media
The FCA clarified in its updated March 2015 guidance that social media is regulated in the same way as other media.
This means it can be difficult with some formats where you cannot add the necessary risk warnings and disclaimers. If you don't have the room to add a suitable risk warning and disclaimer, you cannot add a Financial Promotion.
Note, if you retweet, share or like a post, this can fall under the Financial Promotions rules.
The guidance says that, "if the customer's tweet comments on or endorses the benefits of a regulated financial product or service, then sharing or forwarding by the firm will constitute a promotion."
- What is the FCA Looking For in Financial Promotions?
The FCA's main objective is that financial promotions are "fair, clear and not misleading".
Products and services need to be promoted in a balanced way, which means that any claims must be realistic and information on key risks needs to be fair and prominently displayed.
Promotions need to give sufficient information on the product to enable consumers to make an informed choice.
Information on past performance needs to be representative and not overly prominent, so that consumers' expectations of the product are realistic.
Also central to the FCA's expectations is that firms are 'treating customers fairly', a key tenet of which is that customers receive clear information about products and services marketed to them.
- Common Errors in Financial Promotions
To ensure that financial promotions are fair, clear and not misleading, you need to make sure they don't feature any of the following:
- Unclear statements: the FCA requires clarity. All claims need to be clear and able to be demonstrated. Acronyms and jargon that may not be obvious to the reader should be explained.
- Over-optimistic projections of the product in question: anything that could be deemed 'misleading' in terms of suggested returns will fall foul of the FCA.
- Disclosure wording that is too small: any 'small print' needs to be clearly legible.
- Unsubstantiated claims: e.g. about a firm being 'the largest' or 'most successful' without appropriate evidence. Avoid using absolute terms unless they can be proved.
- Misleading claims: e.g. suggesting spread betting and/or CFD trading are "easy", "easy way to make money", "guaranteed to make money", "a great way to make money" etc. These suggest that a person will make money. This is clearly not true and therefore fails the "clear, fair and not misleading" test.
- Mentions of "Open an Account" or "Open an Account today": each applicant is individually assessed as to their suitability and accounts are offered subject to status and 'Customer Due Diligence' tests, and therefore, not all applicants will be successful. You can write "Apply" or "Click here to apply" (bear in mind that, as always, you also need a risk warning).
- Out-of-date content: ensure you regularly review any content about Financial Spreads to ensure it's accurate. Any inaccurate content must be removed and/or made compliant inline with these guidelines
- Statements that contravene other applicable guidelines: e.g. suggesting that spread betting and/or CFD trading is "sexy" or makes you more "sexually attractive", as this would contravene the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines (see below).
- Financial Promotions Must Following Advertising Guidelines
- In addition to its own regulations, the FCA requires that any Financial Promotions also comply with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Directive on Sales Promotion and Distance Marketing.
- Affiliates must also follow our corporate requirements, in this case, as well as the other element of these guidelines, they must Treating Customers Fairly.
- Targeting Clients
The FCA requires that each client that applies for a financial spread betting and/or CFD account is assessed for their suitability for the product(s).
As part of this suitability program, you should ensure that you only put Financial Promotions in front of an appropriate audience and therefore:
- Affiliates should only put Financial Promotions regarding Financial Spreads on webpages with appropriate content, e.g. pages that give information on trading, the financial markets, financial news or other financial related services/products.
- Affiliates must not put Financial Promotions regarding Financial Spreads on websites or other sources which have or link to inappropriate content e.g.
- Financial content that is not 'clear, fair and not misleading' such as content discussing 'easy trading', 'guaranteed profits' etc.
- Prohibited software, racism, pornography, violence, offensive language etc.
- Affiliates must not target under 18s.
Please note, we do not accept accounts from US residents. Affiliates must not market Financial Spreads into the USA.
- Further Notices and Disclaimers
- Stop losses:
If Stop Loss orders are mentioned, the following sentence must be immediately added "Stop Loss orders are not guaranteed".
- Tax Free:
If you mention the tax benefits of spread betting and/or CFDs, you must also add that "Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may change in the future."
- Comparison Tables:
If you wish to include Financial Spreads in a comparison table then you must:
- Show the date that the information was extracted;
- Show the source of the information; and
- Ensure the information being compared is clear, fair and not misleading.
- 'Short Form' Adverts / Text:
If space is limited and there is no mention of a client offer or call to action (e.g. no text link) and you are just referring to Financial Spreads / Financial Spreads services this can be treated as a "Short Form" advert. As such, it does not need the full body of risk warnings detailed above.
Therefore, if space is limited, you could use one the following descriptions:
- "Financial Spreads"
- "Financial Spreads offer spread betting and CFDs"
- "Financial Spreads - providers of financial spread betting"
Further examples of Short-Form descriptions of Financial Spreads services, i.e. factual, "non-sales" descriptions without client offers or invitation to apply for an account:
- "With Financial Spreads you can place trades on their website or over the phone"
- "Financial Spreads offer a wide range of financial spread betting markets"
- "Financial Spreads offer spread bets on the EUR/USD, crude oil, gold and a range of UK and international shares"
- "Financial Spreads offer spread bets on a range of shares, stock market indices, commodities and forex markets"
- Use a Risk Warning and Disclaimer
Any advertising / promotional material featuring:
- a call to action, and / or
- details of a client offer
must include a Risk Warning and Transparency Notice which must appear next to any text which mentions the client offer or invites users to apply for a Financial Spreads account:
- Inform But Never Give Advice
Financial Spreads does not have regulatory permission to give investment advice and it is unlikely that any affiliate will have regulatory permission to give investment advice.
Financial Promotions must avoid giving (or sound like they're giving) financial advice.
Avoid this by making sure you talk in general terms about the Financial Spreads product or service, rather than encouraging the reader to take a specific course of action.
Always remember, you're making users aware of the features, benefits and risks, you are not directing them to do anything.
For the avoidance of doubt, you cannot recommend that a person:
- Applies for a Financial Spreads account
- Trades with Financial Spreads
- Write For Your Audience
It is also essential that you write in a way that's appropriate for your intended audience. If you're writing for a retail audience (i.e. the general public), you should avoid financial jargon or very technical terms that might be confusing.
- Content Supplied by Financial Spreads
Affiliates can use the content that we email to you and/or the content we clearly make available to affiliates on FinancialAffiliates.net. If so, affiliates should:
- Regularly review any content to ensure it remains accurate,
- Follow any instructions that come with the content e.g. instructions regarding layout and presentation, and
- Use the content as given including any risk warnings, disclaimers and the date of the content.
- Negative Comments in Reviews About Financial Spreads
The point of these guidelines is to ensure affiliates stay on the right side of the FCA's guidelines and treat customers fairly, it is not to stop affiliates writing fair and objective reviews about Financial Spreads.
As much as we think Financial Spreads has a user-friendly web platform and user-friendly apps we appreciate they may not be all things to all investors.
Affiliates can add negative comments about the Financial Spreads service so long as those comments are clear, fair and not misleading.
- Example Review of Financial Spreads
Below and example review of Financial Spreads.
Affiliates may use this example provided it retains all the elements listed below (and otherwise follows these guidelines).
With Financial Spreads you get all the normal advantages of spread betting:
- Tax free trading with no capital gains tax or stamp duty*
- A wide range of markets including forex and commodities markets as well as a range of international shares and stock market indices
- You can speculate on markets to go up or down
Also, with Financial Spreads you get:
- Tight spreads e.g. 0.7pt on EUR/USD and 0.8pt on the UK 100 stock market index
- Commission free trading (their profit margin is built into the spreads/prices the offer)
- 24 hour trading on a range of popular markets including over 20 forex markets that are open from 11pm Sunday to 9pm Friday
- Stakes as low as £1 per point
- User-friendly web platform and mobile apps
- Advanced charts
Click Here to Apply for an Account
Spread betting, CFDs and margined forex trading are leveraged products which carry a high level of risk to your capital. You can lose more than your initial deposit so you should ensure spread betting, CFDs and margined forex meet your investment objectives and, if necessary, seek independent advice.
Financial Spreads is a trading name of Clear Investor Ltd. which is an appointed representative of FINSA Europe Ltd., company no: 07073413. FINSA Europe Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registered number 525164. Registered Address: Office 701, Tower Bridge Business Centre, 46-48 East Smithfield, London E1W 1AW, UK.
* Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may change in the future.
Note that the above is compliant because it contains:
A) A clear, fair and not misleading review of Financial Spreads (purple text)
B) A risk warning (red text) next to the call to action (blue text link)
C) Contains a transparency notice (green text)
D) A tax notice because the content mentions the tax benefits (grey text)
If the review did not contain one or more of these elements it would not be complaint and could not be used.
- Further Guidance
- These guidelines apply to Financial Spreads and may not be suitable for other financial products and services
- For full guidelines on promoting financial products in the UK see the Financial Conduct Authority website, http://www.fca.org.uk/
Thank you in advance for your co-operation.