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UK PPI Scandal - FCA - too little, too late, too muddled, questionable targeting

BIScom Subsection: 
Author: 
Editorial Staff

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has, far too late, waded into the scandal over businesses that offer completely unnecessary, and very costly, services relating to the mis-selling of Personal Protection Insurance. The industry around selling what amounts to little more than form-filling assistance and which has collected in excess of GBP1,000 million, has force-fed advertising and is now ramping up the pressure on those who have not yet made a claim. The FCA has countered with its own advert. It's rubbish and in the wrong place.

The "radio" ad playing on Spotify starts by telling listeners that it's aimed at those who "remember the 1990s" and had "credit cards, personal loans and mortgages."

A quick bit of arithmetic says that, if we take that market as those who were more than 20 years old in, say, 1995 (being the middle of the decade, by now they will be more than 43 years old.

Spotify's audience according to statista.com, in the UK, in 2015, the latest year we found data for, shows that barely 20% of Spotify's UK audience are 45 years or more. It gets worse: first, that 20% is 20% of Spotify's market penetration in the UK - and we don't know how many people regularly listen to it. And then there's the fact that the most common advert on Spotify is for Spotify premium which encourages a subscription service specifically to avoid adverts.

So it's a small percentage of an indeterminate self-selection population for which the exact target market may be the market which might be presumed (we have no data) to pay not to hear the ads.

Perhaps the FCA is also running ads to directly counter those by the form fillers, but it doesn't have the budget. Nor does it have the power to order print and broadcast media to ban the ads. Why? Because, with supreme irony, the selling of the form-filling services is not a regulated financial activity despite the fact that it is de facto financial advice. Claims management companies (there are many, in a range of fields) have their own toothless tiger regulator, the Claims Management Regulator which does not determine whether claims management is needed or even desirable in the wider public interest.

Print and broadcast media aren't going to give the FCA much free space because they earn significant revenue from this parasitic service - money talks and morality walks.

The FCA's ad is woefully unfocused. FFS: stop trying to be interesting and say what you mean. And don't fuss about with "search FCA PPI" Just tell people what to do. Here's what it should have said clearly:

"If you took out any form of credit agreement in the UK in the 1990s, and were sold Personal Protection Insurance ("PPI"), it is likely that you may claim back some or all of the payments you have made, even if you have repaid the loan in the meantime. Your lender helps you make that claim. You do not need assistance from any adviser or intermediary to validate
or make that claim. Visit www.fca.org.uk/ppi for more information"

Hell, if they ask us nicely, we'll even record it for them, without any silly background noise.

Because we're nice - above, there's a print and web ad they can download and use. We're not going to charge them for it. It took us ten minutes: why has it taken the FCA so many years and still they have got it so wrong?