Category Archives: funeral planning services

funeral planning services

Independent Advice Needed on Funeral Plans

and that is where we come in! No pressure, just Independent Advice. Here is an article from Golden Leaves:

Most Middle Aged Consumers prefer to purchase Funeral Planning products away from the Funeral Home!

New research by Funeral Planning firm, Golden Leaves, has revealed that the majority [62%] of middle-aged consumers, aged 50 – 65, and over 46% of consumers over 66 years of age believe funeral plans should be purchased alongside other ‘later-life planning’ products, such as a Will, rather than purchased via a Funeral Home.

The survey, which questioned 1,050 consumers between the ages of 50 and 85 on their perceptions of the funeral planning sector, also revealed that over a third [35%] of consumers aged 50 – 65 felt anxious or distressed with the idea of having to visit a funeral parlour in order to purchase a funeral plan.

This behaviour was confirmed by the fact 65% of respondents within this age bracket who had purchased a plan, had done so via a Funeral Planning firm, Will writer, Financial Advisor or Legal Services company.

Conversely, in analysing the responses from consumers aged 66 – 85, both consumer behaviour towards purchasing the product, and perception towards funeral parlours, does change with age.

Results show that over half [54%] of consumers between the ages of 66 – 85 didn’t believe that funeral plans needed to be associated with ‘later life’ planning products, where a massive 84%advised they didn’t feel anxious or concerned with having to purchase a funeral plan directly from a funeral business.

The research, therefore, demonstrates that although middle-aged consumers understand the important role of a funeral plan, they would feel more comfortable in purchasing it as part of the ‘later-life’ planning process via a dedicated firm or financial advisor; where the vast majority of more elderly consumers expressed no concern at having to enter a funeral parlour, confirmed by the fact 55% of 66 – 85 year old’s advised they had or would purchase a funeral plan from a Funeral Director.

On discussing the research, Barry Floyd, Managing Director of Golden Leaves, said:

“This latest research is extremely telling and very much aligns with Golden Leaves’ experience of consumer behaviour associated with the purchase of funeral plans spanning the last decade at least.”

“For many people, entering a Funeral Parlour can seem a finite and scary experience, yet they understand the importance of having a Funeral Plan in place to avoid burdening their loved ones with associated costs. Ultimately, for consumers in the 50 – 65 age demographic, aligning funeral plans with other ‘later-life’ planning products, such as will writing, is a natural association that focuses on the importance of maintaining control, whilst removing it from a morbid funeral parlour environment.”

Other key take outs from the survey include:

  • Despite the age bracket of consumers surveyed, just 65% confirmed they had written a will, with just 24% advising they had purchased Life Insurance.
  • 46% of respondents believe that the average funeral costs between £2,000 – £4,000, with 44% of respondents believing the average funeral to cost between £4,000 – £6,00
  • 51% of respondents thought the average Funeral Plan costs between £10 – £25 per month, with 37% believing plans to cost between £25 – £50 per month.

Barry continued:

“Considering the current political appetite to potentially reform the regulation around the funeral planning product, it is important that HM Treasury and policy makers understand that careful consideration needs to be applied when constructing any new regulatory framework.”

“The majority of middle-aged consumers and even 46% of consumers aged 66 – 85 would rather associate funeral plans with later-life planning, as opposed to the somewhat scary environment of a funeral parlour, which means funeral plan providers and other estate planning, will-writing,   financial or legal representatives need to be able to offer these products to fulfil the clear and considerable consumer demand.”

“The growth witnessed by the sector over the last decade, has been largely delivered by consumers buying from funeral planning companies and their reselling agent networks amongst other non-funeral-based distributers. This has actually led to increased market competition, effectively driving costs down whilst keeping operational standards high in order to attract and benefit consumers.”

As one of the first to introduce the funeral plan product to the UK market, Golden Leaves are widely recognised as being one of the UK’s oldest and most reputable Funeral Planning companies.

Chairman of Golden Leaves, Steve Rowland added: “Golden Leaves are supportive of increased regulation but we firmly believe that it should not reduce consumer choice, increase costs for the consumer, or distort the market in such a way that delivers poor consumer outcomes.”

Safe Hands Funeral Plans and the FPA

The Funeral Planning Authority

Though there is no statutory regulation/governance of the funeral plan industry at the present time (meaning there is no official set of standards that funeral plan companies must, by law, conform to), here at Safe Hands Funeral Plans – as a company committed to ensuring customers’ best interests are served at all times – we fully advocate and support the idea of there being statutory regulation of the industry and we feel that the FPA, with its industry knowledge, experience and expertise should be given statutory regulatory status by the government (which would mean that all funeral plan providers, by law, would have to be registered with the FPA).

In May 2018, Safe Hands Funeral Plans submitted its formal application for registration with the Funeral Planning Authority. For any provider, the application, assessment and approval process can and does take several months to conclude – and here at SHFP we are as confident as we can possibly be that our all aspects of our operation will be found, by the FPA, to meet with their qualifying criteria, and that we will be successful in becoming registered with them well before the end of the 2018. In the mean time, customers should take great comfort from the fact that legislation exists, under the Regulated Activities Order (Financial Services and Markets Act 2000), that all funeral plan companies must, by law, abide by to ensure their customers’ monies are invested in trust funds that are independent (meaning the customers, not the company, are the beneficiaries of the trust fund), that the investment of the trust fund is independently managed, that the assets of the trust are independently analysed every 3 years to assess whether they are sufficient to cover the company’s liabilities (customers’ funerals, in other words), and that the company itself is independently audited. In all respects, Safe Hands Funeral Plans complies with this legislation.

Further details about the FPA and their registration process can be found at www.funeralplanningauthority.co.uk.

Society of Will Writers Funeral Plan

UPDATE late 2018: The Society of Will Writers Funeral Plan has now changed, click here for details. The plan has its own review, and the Societies version is the same plan.

The Society is delighted to announce the launch of our brand new pre-paid funeral plan.  The Society of Will Writers Trusted Funeral Plan is provided by the Alternative Planning Company Limited in association with Funeral Partners, who are the third largest group of funeral directors in the UK.  THIS IS NOW HISTORIC.

Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review said “Competition is certainly hotting up in the funeral plan market. Both choice and competition will give consumers the opportunity to get better value – as long as they take the right advice.  We will be reviewing the plan as soon as we obtain fuller details” Back to the Press Release:

Unlike many trust based plans, the Plans are secured by whole of life assurance policies provided by a major life assurance company authorised by the PRA and regulated by the FCA.

The Society of Will Writers, the largest organisation representing professional Will Writers, felt that the time was right to address some of the issues that are found in the market place today when it comes to pre-paid funeral plans.

By purchasing The Society of Will Writers Trusted Funeral Plan your client will have secured the services of the funeral director at today’s prices regardless of the cost at the time of death.  It is a simple way to arrange a funeral whilst protecting loved ones from rising costs and uncertainty about final wishes. Included in the plan there is also a generous contribution towards disbursements, these costs are beyond the control of the funeral director and so cannot be guaranteed.

Consumers are recognising the importance of forward planning, and what better way to ensure financial security for your loved ones and a real opportunity to be remembered than a pre-paid funeral plan.

With the Society’s home being in the beautiful cathedral city of Lincoln we have chosen to name our plans after three iconic cathedrals, the Canterbury, which is the ‘entry’ plan, the Lincoln which is the mid-range and the most popular of our plans and the Salisbury which is our premium plan.

Direct cremation funerals to increase

Direct cremation funerals to  increase to 10% of UK funerals by 2030

Research[1] conducted by Dignity plc, one of the UK’s (self styled) premium funeral directors, shows that 53% of online consumers would consider a David Bowie style funeral for themselves, namely a Direct Cremation.

At the Prepaid Funeral Review, we have looked across the market at prepaid Direct Cremations with a little concern.  What happens if family and friends don’t agree with your decision to cut them out of the traditional funeral?  We always ask people to consider this and discuss it with family members and friend.  A good proportion of them then come back and opt for a more conventional funeral.   But let’s not spoil Dignitys’ Press Release:

A direct cremation is a low cost alternative to a traditional funeral, because cremations take place without a funeral service. The family arranges for the deceased to be collected, taken into care, and a cremation takes place without the family present.  Ashes can then returned to the family who often arrange their own reception or event to remember the deceased, which can be done at a significantly lower cost.

Annual unattended direct cremation volumes in the UK are estimated to be between 3-5% of UK deaths (18,000-30,000 people a year2) and Dignity is predicting this figure to reach or exceed 10% by 2030.

Simon Cox, Head of Insight and External Affairs at Dignity said; “The growth in the UK’s interest in direct cremation is in response to a shift in consumer attitudes towards funerals. Consumers are moving away from a one size fits all traditional funeral service and among the very many different needs this includes those who may wish to choose an unattended or low cost funeral option.

In addition public figures, such as David Bowie, demonstrated earlier this year that there are other options for people who choose a send-off with no fuss.  We witnessed a sharp spike in public interest for direct cremation immediately after Bowie’s death”.

John Troyer from The Centre for Death and Society at University of Bath said “Based on my research on the history of final disposal methods in the United States, direct cremation is something that many individuals choose when making end-of-life decisions about what should be done with their body. As in the US, I would expect to see interest in direct cremation continue to grow.”

Simon Cox continued; “To put it into context a basic funeral is £3,973[2] and is predicted to grow to £5,334 by 2021[3]. Not everyone wants to or can spend over £3,900 on a funeral with more and more people looking for alternatives such as direct cremation services, which can cost less than half the price. This is because a direct cremation requires so much less than the traditional funeral in terms of the various elements, people and planning.

 

[1] Research conducted for Dignity by Trajectory Partnership. Amongst an online nationally representative sample of over 2,000 UK individuals.  2 Calculation using ONS figures

[2] Matter Communications 2016

[3] Dignity based on data from Matter Communications 2011-2016

Golden Charter Backs Funeral Plan Regulation

FUNERAL PLANNING AUTHORITY ‘NEEDS WIDER POWERS’ says Golden Charter.

• Golden Charter backs new Code of Practice.
• Welcomes industry report on pre-paid funeral plans.

Increased regulation of pre-paid funeral plans and wider powers for the Funeral
Planning Authority (FPA) would ensure continuing consumer protection and
support, the UK’s leading funeral plan provider Golden Charter believes.
It is backing moves at the FPA to strengthen the Code of Practice for providers
in the growing market, as well as a push requiring all companies operating in the
sector to be registered with the FPA. While the overwhelming majority of prepaid
funeral providers are members of the FPA, the industry self-regulatory body
which exists to protect consumers’ interests, membership is voluntary only. This
means that some providers and intermediaries are operating without an
independent body to hold them to account.

A recent report by consumer group Fairer Finance called for full Financial
Conduct Authority (FCA) regulation of pre-paid funeral plans.

Mark Moran, Golden Charter’s Director of Intermediaries, said: “We welcome this
report and the points it raises in relation to ensuring customers fully understand
what level of cover they are getting when they take out a funeral plan.
“As a founding member of the Funeral Planning Authority, consumer protection
has long been a priority for Golden Charter and we continue to strongly
recommend that customers seek out a plan from an FPA-registered provider.
“We only work with proven third parties and our policy is for all new
intermediaries to be professionally accredited. Our belief is that a stronger FPA
with mandatory membership for funeral plan providers and those marketing
funeral plans is the best way to ensure consumer interests are protected.”

The Fairer Finance report also highlighted the negative aspects of insurance backed
plans, where money paid in is lost if the plan holder stops making payments.
Mark continued: “Guaranteed whole of life plans have been the subject of
criticism for many years, but have remained a suitable vehicle for a proportion of
the population. We believe in offering a wide range of payment methods to
ensure customers can select the option that best suits their individual
circumstances. Our low cost instalment payment option is an alternative to
insurance-backed payments, offering similarly low premiums while ensuring any
money paid in is not lost if payments stop. These funds will be held in the Golden
Charter Trust until the time of need.”

The market leader, which is owned by an association of around 730 independent
funeral directors situated throughout the UK, also believes more needs to be
done to educate consumers on the nature of funeral plans, which can be
mistaken for financial investment products.

Mark said: “It’s a common misconception that a funeral plan is an investment
product, when in fact it is a contract which allows an individual to pay for a
funeral in advance. This distinction is important as it means that at the time of
need, with a Golden Charter funeral plan, the funeral director’s services included
in the plan are guaranteed to be covered – no matter what.”

All funds* received from the sale of funeral plans by Golden Charter Ltd are paid
into the Golden Charter Trust. The Trust is a fund whose assets are entirely
separate and independent of Golden Charter Limited. The most recent actuary’s
report at March 2017 showed that the Trust’s assets were valued in excess of
100% of the funds required to meet future invoice costs in respect of all the
funeral plans in the Trust, allowing for increases in funeral costs in line with
future levels of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

*If the fixed monthly payment option is selected, funds are paid into a UK based
life assurance company.