Global payments and shopping service Klarna, has launched an Influencer Council in order to develop a best practice guide for influencers and brands advertising online and to help shape responsible marketing practices for the financial services sector, as more people look online for financial guidance.

The constantly evolving nature and popularity of different online platforms means that existing Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) guidelines are increasingly open to interpretation. As a result, influencers, brands and platforms can unwittingly fall foul of the regulations. Guided by experts from influencers, financial literacy platforms, retailers and policy leaders, the Council aims to deliver clarity for consumers, brands, influencers and advertising bodies regarding what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to advertising financial products and services.

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As part of the Council, Klarna commissioned nationwide research from Censuswide to understand consumer attitudes on money management, and how consumers engage with financial guidance from influencers.

The research revealed that more and more Brits are turning to influencers for financial guidance. Just under a third (30%) of consumers who have seen an influencer or a celebrity giving financial guidance have acted upon it, rising to 53% when Gen-Z (those aged between 16 and 24) were asked.

However, only a quarter (27%) of the UK say that they understand the purpose of #ad, #affiliate and/or #gifted references on influencers’ posts. Worryingly, of those who said they understood the purpose of #ad, #affiliate, and/or #gifted on an influencer’s post, nearly half (46%) actually didn’t know that #ad meant an influencer had been paid by a company to promote a product or a service.

The Council will seek to provide input from those with direct experience as to how guidelines can and should be interpreted on a practical basis in order to best serve consumers – offering an insider perspective from a variety of parties on the current guidelines, as the market continues to evolve and change. The first meeting is set to take place 11th March 2021.

The Council will be chaired by presenter and social media expert, Christian Howes. Other panel members include retailer ​PrettyLittleThing​; ​Rupa Shah​, Founder & Director of Hashtag Ad Consulting; ​Clare Seal​, Creator of My Frugal Year, founder of The Financial Wellbeing Forum and author.; ​Joel Gladwin​, Head of Policy at Coadec; ​Kia Commodore​, founder of financial literacy platform, Pennies To Pounds; Youtuber and Blogger ​Amelia Liana​; psychotherapist and author ​Owen O’Kane; Lian Hirst​, Founder of PR & Digital agency TRACE Publicity and ​AJ Coyne, ​Head of Marketing at Klarna.

Klarna and the Influencer Council hope to develop a Whitepaper of guidelines for influencers and financial services brands, a user-friendly toolkit for brands and influencers and assets for use on Instagram and other platforms, which will be widely available following the Council meetings.

On the launch, Christian Howes, Chair of the Influencer Council ​said​: “I am delighted to be appointed Chair of Klarna’s Influencer Council. Transparency and consumer protection are the foremost priorities for all our Council members and with such a diverse panel, I’m

confident that through this Council, we will be able to provide better, clearer and actionable guidance for everyone to use across all social media platforms.”

AJ Coyne, Head of UK Marketing at Klarna ​said​: ​“As more Brits turn to influencers for financial guidance, it’s never been more important to drive true clarity on advertising standards so that consumers fully understand how to manage their money.

Following the ASA’s ruling in December on four social media posts we commissioned, we reflected on our practices. This is why we set out on a mission to create an Influencer Council to better understand how guidelines are implemented and to develop proposals so all parties can act correctly and responsibly. This is an issue that cuts across brands and sectors – we are looking forward to the discussions ahead and sharing the outcomes with all our influencers and retail partners.”