France Introduces Certification for Financial Influencers Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

As regulatory scrutiny on financial influencers, often referred to as “finfluencers,” continues to mount, France has taken a significant step by introducing a non-mandatory Responsible Influence Certificate. This move aims to bring more transparency and accountability to the world of financial promotion on social media.

On September 7, two prominent French regulatory agencies, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP), jointly unveiled a dedicated training module tailored for influencers operating within the financial sector.

The “Responsible Influence Certificate” is not entirely new, as it was initially introduced by the ARPP back in 2021. To date, over 1,000 French influencers have successfully obtained this certificate. However, the certificate is now being expanded to include a specialized course for financial influencers. This course will cover various financial products, including equities, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), funds, derivatives, and even unconventional assets like wine. Notably, the announcement also references crypto assets, recognizing the growing influence of cryptocurrencies in the financial landscape.

To qualify for the Responsible Influence Certificate in Financial Advertising, aspiring influencers will need to achieve a minimum score of 75% by correctly answering 25 multiple-choice questions. While the certificate itself does not carry the status of a legally mandatory document, the ARPP reserves the right to withdraw it from influencers who fail to comply with the guidelines and standards outlined in the course. Additionally, individuals seeking the Responsible Influence Certificate must first obtain the “General Certificate,” which has been developed by the ARPP for all influencers.

This move in France comes after the country’s Senate approved an amendment in May 2023, permitting registered cryptocurrency firms to engage social media influencers for advertising and promotional activities. However, it contrasts with the approach taken in the United Kingdom, where regulators have issued stern warnings to influencers about potential legal consequences for promoting cryptocurrencies. These consequences could include imprisonment for up to two years, an unlimited fine, or both.

On a broader European scale, the European Consumer Organisation has actively lobbied for a complete ban on crypto advertising by influencers. This ongoing debate underscores the varying approaches to regulating financial influencers and their promotional activities across different countries and regions.

As the financial industry continues to evolve in the digital age, and as cryptocurrencies gain more prominence, the role of finfluencers becomes increasingly pivotal. The introduction of the Responsible Influence Certificate in France signals an attempt to strike a balance between empowering influencers and ensuring that their influence is wielded responsibly and transparently, particularly when it comes to financial products and investments.