UK financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has said it is likely that live, interactive digital communications media such as social networking sites, mobile texts and instant messaging, will play an increasing role in the provision of financial advice to consumers in the near future.

Commenting in its Mortgage marketing Review report, the FSA argues that whilst the use of these media as channels for financial advice is currently small, their

‘importance…will continue to grow as one generation gives way to another, and social media and “smart devices” become increasingly popular’.

The FSA said that such trends could also be seen in the increasing use of ‘live chat’ with a vendor representative during online transactions for a range of consumer services.

The conclusions reached by the FSA tally with evidence showing that ownership of portable new media devices such as smartphones, with their increased opportunities for web access, is on the increase.

The FSA says that financial advisors should view live customer interaction via social media sites or other new media avenues regarding products such as mortgages as ‘perfectly possible’, and no different to any other form of interactive dialogue such as that conducted face-to-face or over the telephone.

It reminds those offering advice via these media to ensure that all products are assessed according to the criteria laid down for dialogue via conventional channels; in other words based on whether the products are ‘appropriate for the consumer based on the consumer’s particular needs and circumstances’.