Although the restriction in section 21 addresses all forms of financial promotion, it is necessary to distinguish between particular types of financial promotion as these are treated differently under the Financial Promotion Order. This regime recognises two types of financial promotion. These are real time and non-real time financial promotions. Real time financial promotions are then divided into solicited or unsolicited real time financial promotions.
The terms real time financial promotion and non-real time financial promotion are defined in article 7 of the Financial Promotion Order (Interpretation: real time communications). Article 7(1) defines a real time financial promotion as a financial promotion made in the course of a personal visit, telephone conversation or other interactive dialogue. A non-real time financial promotion is one that is not a real time financial promotion. Article 7(5) states that financial promotions made by letter or e-mail or in a publication (defined in article 2 (Interpretation: general) as a newspaper, journal, magazine or other periodical publication, a website, a television or radio programme or a teletext service) are non-real time financial promotions. Articles 7(4) and (5) provide certain indicators that a financial promotion is a non-real time financial promotion. These are that:
the financial promotion is made to or directed at more than one recipient in identical terms (save for details of the recipient’s identity);
the financial promotion is made or directed by way of a system which in the normal course is or creates a record of the financial promotion which is available to the recipient to refer to at a later time; and
the financial promotion is made by way of a system which in the normal course does not enable or require the recipient to respond to it immediately.
PERG 8.6.9 G explains the meaning of 'made to' and 'directed at'.
for a communication to be real time it must be made in course of an interactive dialogue; but that
if the interactive dialogue takes place by means of the exchange of letters or e-mails or in a publication, the communication will be deemed to be non-real time. In this case, publications include newspapers, journals, magazines or other periodical publications, websites or similar systems for the electronic display of information, television or radio programmes and teletext services.
The words ‘personal visit, telephone conversation or other interactive dialogue’ clearly imply that the first two are types of the third. In the FCA's view, it is difficult to envisage circumstances in which a personal visit or telephone conversation would not be interactive. The very fact of a conversation taking place would mean two or more persons were interacting with each other. A telephone call is not the same thing as a conversation. It may be made to, or even by, an intelligent machine which asks questions and responds to answers. That is, in the FCA's view, no more an interactive dialogue than a questionnaire or an electronic decision tree. The FCA cannot see how a scripted call can avoid being an interactive dialogue. The caller presumably has prompts as to what to say depending on the response given or question asked by the recipient of the call. However, the recipient is clearly able to and likely to interact and the degree of interaction cannot be determined in advance.
Most communications made in written or pictorial form will not offer scope for interaction. The most likely exception to this is where persons are expected to respond immediately. This situation may arise, for example, where the equivalent of a telephone conversation is conducted by e-mail. This is the basis of the exemption in article 20A(1)(b)(ii) (see PERG 8.12.37 G). However, the only communications in written or pictorial form which can be real time communications are those which are not contained in a letter, e-mail or publication. This results from article 7(3) as explained in PERG 8.10.2 G and PERG 8.10.3G (2).
The factors in article 7(5), whilst they are helpful as indicators, do not necessarily have to be satisfied for a communication to be non-real time provided it does not represent an interactive dialogue. For example, in the FCA's view, a broadcast made by megaphone from a moving vehicle or temporary chalk markings on a board are non-real time communications even though there may be no lasting record.
Some oral communications will not involve an interactive dialogue. This is because:
An issue arises where a person (P), during the course of a presentation or meeting, invites or is asked to answer questions from the audience. P’s response may or may not be a real time communication. For example, the question may not be personal to the questioner and P may respond by addressing the audience in a way that precludes or does not call for any interaction. This will be a non-real time communication. On the other hand, the question may call for P to pursue a conversation with the questioner, in which case the communication will be an interactive dialogue and a real time communication. In this case, the communication will not involve a non-real time communication made to or directed at the rest of the audience as it is addressed and made to the questioner. It may be that P, in the course of an interactive dialogue with a questioner, makes an invitation or inducement that is addressed to the audience as a whole. This will be a separate communication that will be non-real time. Any handout or slide or other visual aids used during the presentation will be non-real time communications.
In the FCA's view, a communication which may exist in enduring form will be a non-real time communication. Examples of this include videos, audio cassettes, bulletin boards, websites and recorded telephone messages. Messages placed on Internet chat-rooms will also be non-real time. Radio or television programmes or teletext services may contain communications that involve an interactive dialogue. For example, a communication made by the broadcaster and addressed to an interviewee studio guest, a member of the audience or a person who speaks to the broadcaster by telephone. These will always be non-real time communications. This is again the effect of article 7(3) as explained in PERG 8.10.2 G and PERG 8.10.3G (2). Broadcasters may be able to use the exemption for journalists in article 20 of the Financial Promotion Order (see PERG 8.12.23 G). Interviewee studio guests, if they make financial promotions during a broadcast, may be able to use the exemption in article 20A of the Financial Promotion Order (Promotion broadcast by company director etc) (see PERG 8.12.32 G).
Article 8(1) of the Financial Promotion Order (Interpretation: solicited and unsolicited real time communications) states that a real time financial promotion is solicited where it is made in the course of a personal visit, telephone conversation or other interactive dialogue which was initiated by or takes place in response to an express request from the recipient. An express request for these purposes may have been made before section 21 entered into force. An unsolicited real time financial promotion is any real time financial promotion which is not solicited.
because he does not indicate that he does not wish to receive any or any further visits or calls or to engage in any or any further dialogue; or
because he agrees to standard terms that state that such visits, calls or dialogue will take place, unless he has signified clearly that, in addition to agreeing to the terms, he is willing for the visit, call or dialogue to take place.
Article 8(3) of the Financial Promotion Order also has the effect in broad terms that financial promotions made during a visit, call or dialogue will be solicited only if they relate to controlled activities or controlled investments of the kind to which the recipient envisaged that they would relate. In determining whether this is the case, account must be taken of all the circumstances when the call, visit or dialogue was requested or initiated. For example, a person may ask for a visit from a representative of an investment product company with a view to receiving advice on an appropriate pension product. In this case, the representative would be likely to be making an unsolicited real time financial promotion if, during conversation, he attempts to persuade or incite the recipient to make an investment which would not be for the purposes of pension provision.
PERG 8.6.9 G explains that article 6 of the Financial Promotion Order has the broad effect that a communication is made to another person where it is addressed to a particular person or persons. It also states that a ‘recipient’ of a communication is the person or persons to who it is made (that is to whom it is addressed). This takes on importance where certain exemptions which apply to real time financial promotions made to a person are concerned. It appears to the FCA that, in certain situations, a person may make a financial promotion to someone who has expressly asked that it be made or who has initiated it but where, at the same time, it is also made (that is addressed) to persons who may have not requested or initiated it. For example, a married couple may visit their financial adviser. One partner may request or initiate the dialogue which the adviser then addresses to both. Article 8(4) of the Financial Promotion Order recognises this and has the effect that an unsolicited real time financial promotion will have been made to the persons other than the person who expressly asked for or initiated the call, visit or dialogue in which it was made unless they are:
close relatives of that person (that is, a person’s spouse, children and step-children, parents and step-parents and brothers and sisters and step-brothers and step-sisters, including a spouse of any of those persons); or
expected to engage in any investment activity jointly with that person.
a married couple;
two or more persons, who will invest jointly in a product (for example, a cohabiting couple who are not married or members of a family);
the directors of a company or partners in a firm;
the participants in a joint commercial enterprise;
the members of an investment club; and
the managers or prospective managers of a company who are involved in a management buy-out or buy-in.
There will be occasions when financial promotions are received by persons other than those in PERG 8.10.11G (1) or PERG 8.10.11G (2) who will not have solicited them. For example, a more distant relative or friend ('F') who acts as a support to the person who is to engage in investment activity ('P') or P’s professional adviser ('A'). As explained in PERG 8.6.10 G, in such cases the financial promotion will not be made to F or A unless it is also addressed to them. And it will only be addressed to F or A if the invitation or inducement relates to F or A engaging in investment activity. So a solicited financial promotion made to P will not also be an unsolicited financial promotion made to F or A.
In the FCA's view, the mere fact of a person accepting an invitation to attend a meeting does not automatically mean that he has initiated any dialogue which may take place during the meeting and which may amount to a financial promotion. This will depend on the facts of each case and such matters as the manner in which the invitations are made, the arrangements for acceptance and how the meeting is conducted. For example, the fact that investments or investment services will be offered during the meeting may be made clear in the invitation.