ASIC Regulatory Guide 234 (RG234) provides advertising and marketing guidance to Australian Financial Services Licensees as well as Australian Credit Licensees. RG234 outlines the restriction of certain terminology and these restrictions are derived from the Corporations Act 2001. Restricted words include:
- Secure or secured
- First ranking
- No fees
- Independent, impartial or unbiased; or
- Stockbroker, sharebroker, futures broker, insurance broker, insurance broking, general insurance broker or life insurance broker.
Recently ASIC has focused on financial service entities using the term “independent” in marketing material. RG234 states that a financial service provider should not claim a service they are providing is an ‘independent service’ or describe a service in language that infers independence unless they meet strict requirements.
In March 2016, ASIC posted a media release entitled “ASIC targets financial service licensees using the term independent” reiterating ASIC’s stance on using the term “independent” in marketing material. Three entities – Wilson HTM Ltd, iSelect Life Pty Ltd and Citywide Insurance Brokers and Financial Planners Pty Ltd – have all faced ASIC scrutiny regarding the use of the word ‘independent’ and have taken appropriate steps to remove or amend their marketing materials. In 2012, ASIC advised that it would publically name entities which were found to be making misleading statements about the independence of services provided (See – “ASIC warns financial services licensees about the use of the term ‘independent’”).
Sophie Grace is able to provide marketing assistance to AFS licensees as well as Credit licensees to ensure they comply with ASIC’s marketing guidelines by reviewing marketing material. AFS licensees and Credit licensees can also purchase a Marketing Checklist template to review their own marketing material. Please contact us if you require further information or assistance.