Tighter ad rules for investment products

As the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) looks to tighten ad rules for investment products, industry players welcome the move saying it is much needed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in recently local media reports said this will “minimise the scope of advertising to mislead consumers.”

When contacted by Marketing, MAS said it’s unable to divulge exact details of what will be done but it is now consulting relevant parties on the revised set of rules.

“If you take a look at what Singaporeans are saying on social media, they are clearly very unhappy with the service they get from financial institutions,” said Keith Timimi, chairman, VML Qais.

He added that a survey of online banking customers across Asia that the agency recently carried out showed a number of respondents expressing frustrations over hidden fees, bad customer service and misleading advertising.

“We would be extremely happy if MAS were to enforce stricter advertising rules. And we encourage all corporations, but particularly financial institutions, to be transparent and fair in all their dealings,” said Timimi adding that in an age where social media has empowered customers to be heard, “it is frankly suicidal for a business to be anything else.”

Marketing also spoke to DBS’ Karen Ngui, managing director and head of group strategic marketing & communications who said since 2009, the bank has consciously set out to ensure that communications, such as product brochures and press advertisements, are easy to understand and free of jargon.

“In our customer communications, we make it a point to highlight both benefits and risks to our customers in an easy to understand manner so that they can make informed decisions. This is part of our efforts to promote transparency and engage in fair dealing with our customers,” she added.

According to Ngui, to ensure fair dealing is embedded in the culture, all bank employees are required to complete a mandatory fair dealing training module annually. Sales staff at DBS Bank also go through comprehensive training on products, compliance guidelines, systems and various other processes on a regular basis.

“We support efforts to help investors gain a deeper understanding of financial products available in the market. We believe it is important to be clear and transparent in our customer communications,” Ngui added.

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