The site used customers information to put them in contact with local financial advisers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to discuss their retirement options.
But the banner on ‘www.comparing-pensions.co.uk’, part of design and marketing agency Centurius, said: “Increase your pension by up to 40%. Shop around for the best deals. Merge all your pensions in to [sic] one. Find pensions left with old employers. Free Phone Consultation from a Local FCA Regulated Advisor. Free Pension Health Check Report. COMPARE NOW.”
While additional text at the bottom of the web page stated: “Step 1. Tell us who you are We give you a quick call to take some details about you and your pension in order to begin our search… Step 2. We search for you We check our specialist ‘all the market’ software to find the best deal for you and your circumstances…Step 3. The choice is yours We send you our findings for you to make an informed choice in your own time”
The ASA found that both banner and text were misleading as it did not make clear that the service provided was not financial advice, but only for people to be introduced to FCA-regulated financial advisers.
The authority said: “The [Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP)] code stated that marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession.
“It further stated that marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context.
“We considered that the website presented itself as a pension comparison site from the name and URL ‘www.comparing-pensions.co.uk’ and the options offered on the site.”
Centurius was forced to remove the advert from its website and was banned from ever placing it again on the page.
But no fines or further penalties were given to the firm.