The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined The Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society £55,000 for substandard direct offer packs and television advertisements.

It was the first time a friendly society has ever been fined for financial promotions failings.

FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole said: “It is important that firms are aware of the significant influence financial promotions have on consumers’ financial decisions.

“It is therefore important that financial promotions clearly explain the benefits and risks of a product in a balanced way to ensure consumers are not misled.”

She added that Foresters had put consumers at risk despite warnings to firms from the FSA on specific areas of financial promotions that needed improvement.

“Ensuring that financial promotions are clear, fair and not misleading is a responsibility firms should not take lightly and other firms should take heed.”

It was deemed that the direct marketing and TV promotions for the products Autumn Gold and the TeddyTrust child trust fund did not contain fair and adequate description of the risks and drawbacks of the products.

The campaigns ran from January 2004 to March 2005 with direct marketing packs and TV commercials featuring the actress Stephanie Cole and television personality Tommy Walsh, as well as advertisements in magazines and newspapers and online promotional material.

Due to Foresters co-operation and steps taken to meet FSA rules by the friendly society, the fine was lower than it could have been.ADNFCR-8000151-ID-17538630-ADNFCR

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