A TV ad for AJ Bell, seen in February 2022. Large text appeared at the start of the ad with a voice-over and which said, “AJ Bell is on a mission to make investing easier.” The ad included a number of different characters, including Alice and Debra.
A young woman was shown sat on a sofa between a man and a woman. The voice-over said, “Alice has never invested before but is now closer to buying her first home. Thankfully.” A woman was then shown doing yoga in front of a man reading a newspaper. The voice-over stated, “And Debra is set to retire with plans of a yoga retreat. Which is news to Dave.” Dave was shown looking at the camera and then lifting the paper up to cover his face. The voice-over said, “Sorry mate. This is investing for all. AJ Bell.” The text “The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you originally invested. AJ Bell does not provide advice” appeared at the bottom of the screen part-way through.
IssueThe complainant, who believed the ad implied that investing was likely to result in unrealistically substantial and fast returns, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
AJ Bell said none of the information in the voice-over suggested that investment returns were fast or substantial. The ad did not mention timeframes or include any claims about the potential returns of any particular investment.AJ Bell said they had consulted the FCA Handbook when making the ad. They further gave due consideration to the sections “Principles for Business” and “Conduct of Business Sourcebook” in the handbook and believed the ad was compliant with these sections.
AJ Bell stated that with regards to the line, “Alice has never invested before but is now closer to buying her first home. Thankfully”, the ad was stating that while Alice was closer to buying her first home, by using their Lifetime ISA product, it did not say she was there yet, it did not state how long she had invested for, or how much she had invested.
AJ Bell said that with regards to the line, “And Debra is set to retire with plans of a yoga retreat. Which is news to Dave. Sorry mate. This is investing for all” it referred to products they had which helped customers save for retirement.
Clearcast said that the message of the ad was that AJ Bell aimed to make investment more transparent and accessible for the layperson. They also aimed to provide access to investment for people of all ages, circumstances and experiences by offering different types of products tailored to different levels of investment experience. That included ready-made investment portfolios at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, and products designed to help people towards the goals of retirement or buying their first home.
Clearcast stated that with regards to the example of Alice in the ad, AJ Bell offered a Lifetime ISA product which was designed to help people work towards buying their first home. The ad and the voice-over, however, made no reference to Alice investing large sums of money or receiving either substantial or fast returns on her investments. The ad only stated that Alice was “now closer to buying her first home” and not that she was close to being able to buy the home. In addition, the ad did not suggest that investing alone was responsible for reaching her goal.
Clearcast stated that with regards to the example of Debra, the ad stated, ‘And Debra is set to retire with plans of a yoga retreat’. They explained there was again no suggestion that Debra had received fast or substantial returns on her investments. The ad gave no information about how much Debra had invested, how long she had been investing, or what sort of returns her investments had made. The ad also did not suggest that investing was solely responsible for allowing Debra to retire and achieve her goal of a yoga retreat.
Clearcast said the ad contained on-screen text that stated, “The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than your originally invested. AJ Bell does not provide advice”. They said the ad therefore made clear the risks that were associated with investing and clearly communicated the nature of investing. They said the ad in no way trivialised investing, exaggerated the potential of returns, or attempted to encourage people to invest who were not in a position to do so.
The BCAP Code stated that advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
The ad portrayed a number of individuals at different stages in their lives using the advertiser’s investment products. The ASA noted that the ad contained on-screen text that said investments could go down as well as up and consumers could receive less than was originally invested. The text therefore highlighted the risks of investing and made clear that investors were not guaranteed to make profits.
One of the investors in the ad was Debra, who was described as being close to retirement and who planned to purchase a yoga retreat. The ad did not mention how long Debra had invested for, but due to her imminent retirement, she could have been investing for some time. Further to that, while the ad did imply the investment product was a contributary factor into purchasing the retreat, it did not state that her investment was her only source of funding and her approaching retirement suggested she had been in work, meaning she could have had another source of funding, in addition to the investment product, for the retreat.
A second investor, Alice, was shown sitting on a sofa between a man and a woman. Alice looked uncomfortable and said, “Thankfully” when the voice-over said she was closer to buying her first home. The implication was that Alice lived at home with her parents, and she was looking forward to owning her first property, in part funded by her investment.
We understood that the product Alice had taken out was a Lifetime ISA, but this was not clear in the ad and so viewers would interpret her experience as referring to investing generally. Nevertheless, we noted that the ad gave no figures as to what Alice had earned from her investment or state when she had started investing. Further, while the implication from the ad was that Alice was using her investment to help with her purchase, it did not state that the investment alone was paying for the property. Finally, by specifically stating that Alice was “closer” to buying her first property, the ad signalled that while Alice’s investment had appreciated, she was not yet at the point of her investment goal and still could be some distance from buying a home or raising a deposit. That was further supported by the absence of any indications in the ad that she was imminently moving out.
The ad therefore did not state or imply that either Debra or Alice had made significant returns quickly from investing or that any gains were solely responsible for any significant purchases. For those reasons, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.