F&P Finance ads cleared
Fisher & Paykel Finance is clear to once again advertise its investments as "quality", and describe itself as a "company you can trust".
That follows a decision by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board to backtrack on an earlier ruling that such claims were in breach of the code for financial advertising.
The original finding followed a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about an F&P Finance advert on the Yahoo NZ website in January.
The advert included the statements: "For a quality investment with a company you can trust", and "invest with confidence".
F&P Finance has a BB rating from Standard and Poor's with a stable outlook.
S&P's credit rating declaration said that under a long term issuer credit rating, an obligor rated BB was less vulnerable in the near term than other lower-rated obligors.
"However it faces major ongoing uncertainties and exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could lead to the obligor's inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitments."
In its appeal F&P Finance said its rating was towards the higher end of the S&P ratings for non-bank financial institutions in New Zealand.
If the board's reasoning was adopted, and a BB S&P rating were taken to mean it was inherently misleading or inaccurate to refer to the relevant financial institution as "trusted" or "quality", no New Zealand finance companies would be able to use any of those words, or anything else synonymous with such claims.
"This would be an unjustifiable penalty on those companies which have a proven track record and do provide quality investments," F&P Finance said.
In the decision on the appeal, a majority of the complaints board was satisfied the BB rating was not reflective of the company's position but rather was an indication of the type of investment available taking into account risk and return.
The reference to "trust" in the advert clearly related to the company and its performance, and the evidence now before the board adequately substantiated the claim.
In reaching that view, the board majority took into account F&P Finance's 40-year history, its financial stability rating and its current financial position.
A minority of the board said that given the current context of economic instability and a negative global financial forecast, the statement: "for a quality investment with a company you can trust" implied a guarantee of return. As such, it did not meet the required standard of substantiation for truth and clarity, nor did it meet the high standard of social responsibility required of financial advertising.
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