News from Parliament – possible regulation of the sale of funeral plans.
“Funeral salesmen ‘misleading customers’ over contracts, MP says. Funerals paid for upfront should be subjected to tighter regulation to prevent people being hit with hidden charges, ministers have been told.” We do agree that many adverts for funeral related products are misleading, as are some funeral plan websites. We also agree that some “salesmen” don’t understand the products they are selling.
But the record of the regulation of financial services would appear to indicate that their greatest achievement in times of rising need is to prevent the public from getting advice at all. So whilst we do agree that improvements are needed, we don’t thing you could pick on a more overpaid and less effective bunch than the Financial Conduct Authority to “improve” things.
Our suggestions would be:
- Complain about misleading adverts to the Advertising Standards Authority.
- Read the brochure and terms of business before buying a plan – even if it is through us!
- Annoy the provider by paying by cheque. It is more secure.
- Providers should impose knowledge tests on their own staff and agents (in fact we have heard moves in that direction already).
- Report liars and cheats to Trading Standards.
- Have SIMPLE licencing system for sales people. Pretty much anyone other than the FCA could run such an operation on an annual fee of £25 or so with initial application fee of £50 or so to include criminal records check. Any complaints could be reviewed by the same organisation. If the FCA get the job they will want to appoint a Director of Funeral Plan Regulation at a cost £500,000 a year with all the trimmings and an executive team in expensive Canary Wharf. They will make sure it is someone with no knowledge or understanding of the industry but great skill at devising complex, meaningless rules and hoops. The Funeral Planning Authority is not, in my opinion, a candidate for this role as it is a gentleman’s club not a regulator in any real sense of the word.