Mystery shopping exercise helped expose illegal investment services
This year, the Bank of Lithuania conducted a mystery shopping exercise to evaluate the practices of certain companies and persons offering training and consultation on savings and investment.
“Mystery shopping is an important supervisory tool that provides information on the actual market situation, when it cannot be gathered through usual supervisory measures, such as inspections or surveys. This tool allows to better understand the errors made by market participants and to prepare recommendations on their avoidance in the future. Meanwhile, the offenders exposed in this manner will receive our closer attention,” said Jekaterina Govina, Director of the Financial Market Supervision Service of the Bank of Lithuania.
The mystery shopping exercise may be conducted to ascertain whether the financial services provided comply with legislative requirements, identify areas where violations are most frequent and assess how financial market participants implement the requirements of legal acts that recently came into effect.
The objects of such exercise are investment, insurance, pension accumulation and other financial services and products provided or offered by supervised financial market participants and other persons. The Bank of Lithuania may conduct an exercise itself or use professional external providers of mystery shopping services, as in the present case.
Information collected during an exercise cannot be used as grounds for applying enforcement measures, however, it may serve as a basis for initiating inspections, giving mandatory instructions, issuing recommendations or examples of best practices, drawing up and publishing assessment overviews, as well as notifying entities under assessment about its results and providing them methodological support.
The mystery shopping exercise conducted during two separate periods in 2020 had indicated that investment services provided by specific financial brokerage firms were potentially offered and advertised during consultations and training. Such services may be offered and advertised only by entities included in the Public List of Tied Agents of Financial Brokerage Firms. As the organisers of the said events were not included in this list, they were not entitled to offer and advertise the services of the companies they represent, whereas their activity potentially violated the Republic of Lithuania Law on Markets in Financial Instruments. To prevent potential infringements of the legal acts regulating the financial market and investigate the actual circumstances in more detail, the Bank of Lithuania will contact these entities directly.