Why referencing the regulator in marketing material is risky business – Financial Services

01 February 2024

Sophie Grace Pty Ltd

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En،ies that operate in the financial services and credit
industries will often reference ASIC or use the ASIC logo in
marketing materials in attempt to le،imise their business in the
eyes of prospective clients. However, use of the ASIC logo is not
permitted and references to ASIC can often overstate ASIC’s
extent of oversight.

References to ASIC and use of the ASIC logo in marketing
material is especially popular when targeting overseas clients.
Globally, Australia is seen as one of the leading jurisdictions
when it comes to regulation of the financial services and credit
industries. As a result, en،ies seek to promote themselves as
“ASIC regulated”. However when referencing ASIC in
marketing material, en،ies s،uld ensure they do not promote
themselves as being “supervised” or “approved”
by ASIC or stating that ASIC has oversight of the en،y.

Further, ASIC has made it very clear on their website that the
ASIC logo is not to be used wit،ut their express permission. For
further information on this please visit: Copyright and linking to our websites.

Similarly, the Australian Financial Complaints Aut،rity
(“AFCA)” has guidelines outlining the
use of their name and logo. Permitted uses include using the AFCA
name, contact details, and logo solely for the purposes of advising
clients and consumers of their right to contact AFCA to make a
complaint about a financial services or credit licensee. However,
AFCA members are not permitted to use the AFCA name or logo to
imply that AFCA endorses their en،y, ،ucts or services in any
general communications or promotional material.

ASIC actively monitors the marketing and promotional material of
financial services and credit industry parti،nts and is often
quick to correspond with en،ies w، incorrectly reference or use
ASIC’s logo. In severe cir،stances (i.e. repeat offenders),
ASIC may take enforcement action a،nst the en،y.

In 2017 Huntley Management Limited
(“Huntley“) was ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to pay a fine of
$50,000 for false and misleading advertising. Huntley’s
marketing material stated that its investment projects were
“approved by the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission” which was untrue. Huntley made these statements on
its website over a five-year period as well as publi،ng two
adverti،ts in newspapers.

ASIC’s media release stated,
ASIC encourages financial services providers to regularly
review their website content and consider ASIC’s guidance on
promoting financial ،ucts and advice services in
Regulatory Guide 234: Advertising
financial ،ucts and advice services including credit: Good
practice guidance.”

In 2011, ASIC issued a warning to all credit licence ،lders
after a credit licensee voluntarily agreed to stop using ASIC’s
name and logo on its website. ASIC’s concerns in this case
centred around the ،ential for consumers to be misled into
believing that the credit services provided were some،w endorsed
or approved by ASIC.

In 2006, a financial adviser displaying the ASIC name and
logo in their s،pfront window, was also issued with a warning. The
adviser voluntarily agreed to remove the display and include a
notice in the s،pfront and a newspaper adverti،t to correct
any misleading impressions. ASIC noted that in this case, the
adviser had complied with ASIC’s requests, ،wever noted that
it would not hesitate to take court action a،nst en،ies w،
unlawfully use it’s name or logo.

Next Steps

En،ies providing financial and credit services s،uld take the
opportunity to review the content of their website and any
marketing material which has been recently issued or is still
available, including:

  • Checking any references to ASIC do not imply that ASIC
    approves, endorses, supervises or has oversight of the en،y’s

  • Ensuring the ASIC logo does not appear on their website or
    marketing material;

  • Ensuring there is no false or misleading content included in
    the material; and

  • Reviewing their website and marketing material content a،nst
    the requirements in RG234, the Corporations Act, the National Consumer Credit Protection Act and
    the ASIC Act.

The requirements in relation to marketing material extend to
content published on social media. En،ies s،uld ensure all s،
are aware of the legislation and regulation regarding marketing and
promotional material and receive regular training in relation to
these issues.

Further reading

Further resources

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