Today we have lodged a complaint with the FCA about the conduct of so-called Money Expert Martin Lewis for giving advice on regulated products, in this case mortgages. We believe there is a case to answer, or at least consideration for prosecution / or a public of Mr Lewis for breaching rules regarding giving regulated advice whilst not being qualified.
As far as we know there are no exemptions for people who give advice on regulated products just because they are famous.
The questions we have asked the FCA to consider are:
1) Is Martin Lewis qualified to give regulated advice?
We have found no evidence that Mr Lewis is qualified to give regulated advice.
2) Is Martin Lewis giving advice on regulated products?
We believe he is. It is our experience that there are grounds to think Mr Lewis has been doing this for years. Only today, he retweeted a tweet from one of his followers where she said she took his advice on a mortgage product.
3) Is Martin Lewis making money from giving regulated advice?
We believe that it is highly probable that Martin is making money from giving out advice through his appearances and his columns. To what extent, and how indirect those payments are should be investigated by the FCA.
4) Is Martin Lewis liable to claims if his advice is wrong?
We are not sure, it would be interesting if someone took legal action against his advice and that was tested.
5) What action will the FCA take?
This is the big question.
It is our belief that the potential dangers from celebrities giving out unqualified advice on mortgages is potentially a lot more damaging than that of an individual advisor in a one on one advice environment. Something which the FCA have given out warnings for before. The reach of TV Guru's covers millions of people. They often go unchallenged on air and it seems by regulators - but why? Their bad advice can effects tens of thousands in one go.
For TV Guru’s there is no requirement to disclose what financial benefits they would receive if that advice is followed. There is no requirement to listen to the person who they are giving advice to, or listen to their individual circumstances. Nobody can, or should be giving out this advice.
We believe that the word “expert” given to some is unearned. In the case of Mr Lewis, he has a track record of being wrong on so many issues, IceSave saving scheme, The Bank Collapses of HBOS and others where he said that it was just speculators driving down the share price only months before the banks begged for bailouts. We don’t feel his advise stands up to proper independent scrutiny.
We hope the FCA issue the same warning to the public about Mr Lewis’s advice that they do against others on their warning list. It's important that everyone, no matter how famous is held accountable to the standards.