If you work in financial services and you use Google Ads then I strongly recommend you take a moment now to check that your ads are still running correctly.
You may find that they have either stopped completely this week or have been getting far fewer impressions than normal.
That's because, as I wrote about a couple of months ago, Google introduced a new UK Financial Services Verification policy this week. This means that anyone advertising mortgages or other financial products on Google Ads in the UK is now required to go through an additional verification process.
Can Mortgage Brokers Still Run Google Ads?
Yes, they can, but there's an extra hoop to jump through.
In summary, if you are a directly authorised firm you will need to complete this form to enable you to carry on running Google Ads campaigns. If you are an introducer you will need to get your principal firm to initiate this verification process on your behalf.
Something which was not totally clear when I wrote that article back in July was what would happen to someone who is an Appointed Representatives (AR) of a mortgage network.
But it has become clear this week...
Google Ads Verification for Appointed Representatives
As far as Google is concerned, an AR is treated the same way as an introducer.
This means that if you are an AR and you want to run Google Ads for mortgages or other types of financial advice you cannot apply for verification yourself.
Instead, you will need to get your network to apply on your behalf. And the network will need to have been verified themselves first of all.
The Impact of the Financial Services Policy
At the time of writing, it seems that different mortgage brokers have been affected in different ways by this new policy.
Some firms have achieved verification with no problems at all. But others have not been so lucky.
One DA firm I work with (we'll call them XYZ Mortgages Ltd) has had their initial application for verification rejected because the details they put on the form did not match the details on the FCA register.
Fair enough, you might think. But the only discrepancy was that, on the FCA register the company was listed as XYZ Mortgages Ltd where as on the verification form they put their name down as XYZ Mortgages LTD (with the LTD in block capitals). It seems that was enough to get the application rejected.
Some ARs have faced delays in getting verified because they have had to wait for their network to submit the application on their behalf and the networks have been swamped with last minute requests and have a backlog of forms to submit.
And I heard of one AR who, having successfully been verified in July after submitting his own application, has now had his verification reversed and been told he has to get his network to submit it on his behalf instead.
A Hidden Opportunity
There is a potential upside to all this for mortgage brokers and IFAs who have completed their verification.
At the moment there will be a number of advertisers whose Google Ads accounts have been restricted whilst their verification is processed.
This means that, for a brief while, there could be a reduction in cost per click due to there being less advertisers in the Google Ads auction. So don't be surprised if you see a temporary improvement in the results you get from your Google Ads campaigns, followed by a return to normal once everyone gets their verification issues sorted out.