IG boss hits out at Ballon d'Or winner and “crazy” football advertising amid spreadbetting crackdown

Oliver Gill
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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo was recently kicked in the face during training (Source: Getty)

The boss of Britain’s biggest spreadbetting firm has slammed football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for fuelling problem investing.

Peter Hetherington, the chief executive of IG Group, also labelled the level of complex financial product advertising at football games a “disgrace”.

“The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted his 49m followers what a great idea it was to open a CFD trading account with a Cypriot shop that sponsored him – the only thing you can say with certainty is that it was not a good idea for all of those 49m poor souls who follow him,” he told City A.M.

Speaking as IG posted a 29 per cent growth in first-half profits, Hetherington admitted to his frustrations at a protracted process for regulators to crack down on spreadbetting firms.

First announced in December 2016 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and passed on to the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) last summer, regulators want to put limits on the level of risk and ban certain inducements to retail customers.

“We have had 13 months of regulatory uncertainty… We long for the day when we have regulatory certainty,” he said.

We do see that there is a problem… We think it is absolutely crazy that you can’t watch a football game in this country without seeing advertising for CFDs, FX or binaries all over the football stadiums.

Read more: Ronaldo equals Messi tally by winning fifth Ballon d'Or

“Staggeringly short”

Last Thursday Esma published a 20-day call for evidence on proposals to cap leverage limits to between 30x and 5x and restrict the “incentivisation of trading”.

“It is a staggeringly short consultation,” said Hetherington.

If implemented, the Esma plans would be one of the first “interventions” under new powers brought in this year to impose new rules in the case of an emergency.

Hetherington said: “You can hardly say either there is an emergency.

I’ve worked here 24 years. In that whole time, I have never seen our clients so peeved.

IG also unveiled today it would convert its Dusseldorf branch into a subsidiary, allowing it to continue to sell services into the EU after Brexit. Hetherington said this would involve a “handful” of new hires – probably in the region of about five new members of staff.

Read more: Spreadbetters shrug off FCA claims customers are at "serious risk of harm"

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