A TV ad for FxPro, an online broker providing contracts for difference (CFD), seen on the Bloomberg TV channel on 29 September 2016. The ad began with a scene that featured a young adult who woke up and immediately reached for a tablet device. The image on the tablet showed a falling Euro:GBP currency rate. The voice-over stated, “What can I say, I am a risk seeker. For me, trading is about being in the moment.” The ad then showed the actor arriving at what appeared to be a college setting where he checked the currency status. The image on the device indicated that the exchange rate had risen. The voice-over stated, “Surfing that wave for as long as it holds. And when the price changes direction, I go back in and profit on the way down. Some say it’s too risky. For me, it’s a thrill. Fortune favours the brave, right?” The ad then featured the actor who showed the currency rate to several other students.
On-screen text throughout the ad stated “FxPro Trade Forex Like a Pro … Risk Warning: Trading CFDs involves significant risk of loss”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because they believed it encouraged young adults to trade complex, high risk financial products throughout the day.
1. Bloomberg Media, the broadcaster, responded on behalf of themselves and FxPro UK Ltd. They said that the ad was for CFD investments and was shown on Bloomberg TV which was an established, specialist financial channel and was therefore targeted at a specialist audience. They said that their channel included ads for products available only to consumers who had demonstrated, through an appropriate pre-vetting procedure, that they had relevant financial trading experience and that any consumer who had not passed the pre-vetting process would not be accepted as a potential client.
Bloomberg Media said that a risk warning appeared throughout the ad that stated, “Trading CFDs involves significant risk of loss”. Furthermore, an additional risk warning was displayed at the end of the ad which stated “CFDs are complex financial products that are traded on margin. Trading CFDs carries a high level of risk since leverage can work both to your advantage and disadvantage. CFDs may not be suitable for all investors because you may lose all your invested capital. You should not risk more that you are prepared to lose. Before deciding to trade, you need to ensure that you understand the risks involved taking into account your investment objectives and level of experience. Past performance of CFDs is not a reliable indicator of future results”. Bloomberg said that the warnings highlighted the risks associated with CFD trading and therefore demonstrated that the ad was prepared in a socially responsible manner. They also said they had stopped broadcasting the ad pending the outcome of our investigation.
The ASA noted that the ad appeared on a specialist financial TV channel and that it related to a complex investment product. We considered that because of the nature of the channel, some viewers would have a high degree of knowledge regarding CFDs and would understand that there would be substantial risk associated with the product.
We noted that the ad showed a young adult who checked the status of his investment as soon as he woke-up. The ad then showed him in various scenarios as he prepared for and arrived at what appeared to be a college setting where he met his friends. We noted that in the majority of those situations, he was seen regularly checking the status of his investment. In the final scene he appeared to be showing the results of his investments to friends, including a woman who he then put his arm around.
We considered that those elements meant the ad appealed to a younger, student audience who were likely to be inexperienced in trading CFDs. Furthermore, we considered that statements in the voice-over such as “What can I say, I am a risk seeker”, “I go back in and profit on the way down” and “Some say it’s too risky. For me, it’s a thrill. Fortune favours the brave, right?” created a strong impression that any risks that might be associated with investing were heavily outweighed by the potential benefits, including the thrill of investing. We considered that impression was not off-set by the small risk warning included in on-screen text present throughout most of the ad or the lengthy on-screen text that appeared too briefly to be read in its entirety at the end of the ad.
Because the ad would appeal to young adults and students and because we considered the ad placed undue emphasis on the potential benefits of investing in a complex financial product that involved a significant risk of loss, we concluded that regardless of any pre-vetting of potential clients the ad was irresponsible and that it breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told FxPro UK Ltd not to place undue emphasis on the benefits of investing in complex, high risk products in future.