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lost plan

Funeral Planning Authority Code of Practice

CODE OF PRACTICE from 1st January 2020.

 

The Funeral Planning Authority (“the FPA”) is the independent body governing registered pre-paid funeral providers. It aims to ensure that:

 

  • funeral plan providers that are registered with the FPA (“Plan Providers”) maintain high standards of professional conduct; and

 

  • the money that customers pay to a Plan Provider for a funeral plan is safeguarded so that, when the time comes, their funeral will be provided in accordance with that

 

The FPA does this by:

 

  • setting principles for business that govern operations and practices;

 

  • setting stringent minimum requirements for any provider to become an FPA registered provider and to maintain that status;

 

  • having fit and proper controllers of Plan Providers and plan trustees;

 

  • setting rules and standards within which Plan Providers must operate;

 

  • monitoring the activities and outputs of Plan Providers;

 

  • enforcing rules and guidance where necessary;

 

  • making a Pledge to Customers that, in the unlikely event of a Plan Provider becoming insolvent, the other Plan Providers shall co-operate and examine ways in which the FPA might assist in arranging delivery of the funeral of the customers of the insolvent Plan It should be noted this Pledge does not extend to providers that are not registered with the FPA.

 

The FPA’s Rules require the Plan Providers to comply with this Code of Practice and they may be liable to disciplinary action if they fail to do so.

 

  1. PRINCIPLES OF BUSINESS

 

The Code operates to ensure that Plan Providers act in line with high-level principles for business as follows:

 

  • Integrity

 

A Plan Provider must conduct its business with integrity.

 

  • Skill, care and diligence

 

A Plan Provider must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence.

 

  • Management and control

 

A Plan Provider must take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems.

 

  • Financial prudence

 

A Plan Provider must maintain adequate financial resources.

 

  • Market conduct

 

A Plan Provider must observe proper standards of market conduct.

 

  • Customers’ interests

 

A Plan Provider must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.

 

  • Communication with clients

 

A Plan Provider must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients, and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.

 

  • Conflicts of interest

 

A Plan Provider must manage conflicts of interest fairly, both between itself and its customers and between a customer and another client.

 

  • Customers relationships of trust

 

A Plan Provider must take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of its advice and discretionary decisions it makes for any customer who is entitled to rely upon its judgment.

 

  • Clients’ assets

 

A Plan Provider must arrange adequate protection for clients’ assets when it is responsible for them.

 

  • Relations with regulators

 

A Plan Provider must deal with its regulators in an open and cooperative way, and must disclose to the appropriate regulator appropriately anything relating to the Plan Provider of which that regulator would reasonably expect notice.

 

2.                  CONDUCT

 

Plan Providers, including their staff and their agents’ representatives:

 

  • Must act in a courteous, sensitive, dignified and professional manner and, in particular, must not significantly impair potential customers’ freedom of choice by the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence that is likely to cause them to take a different decision to buy a funeral plan.

 

  • Must not make unsolicited visits, unsolicited telephone calls, undertake unsolicited direct mailing electronically or otherwise, or door to door canvassing. General leaflet drops or media inserts are not specifically precluded by this clause though Plan Providers should consider how these fit in any particular circumstance with the principles for business. In particular, Plan Providers must ensure specific care is taken in respect of residents of nursing homes, residential care homes or similar establishments and any other vulnerable customers; (see section 3 TCF).

 

  • Must have appropriate policies, processes and oversight to identify and deal with vulnerable customers (see 2) in a manner that does not expose them to the potential or actual detriment.

 

  • Must respect the confidential nature of the information given to them and only use that information for its proper

 

  • In recommending another business, must disclose any interest they may have in that

 

  • Must not make misleading comments about the quality or appropriateness of any funeral plan which a customer has already purchased or is thinking of As defined by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) which specifically refers to unfair commercial practices, misleading actions and omissions.

 

  • Must maintain comprehensive records of all interactions with customers to the extent allowed by Data Protection Regulations.

 

  • Must take every reasonable step to ensure that they or their agents do not undertake any activity that risks bringing the sector into They must also take reasonable steps to notify the FPA of any such activity that comes to their attention.

 

  • From time to time the FPA may issue guidance to support the FPA Rules and/or Code of Plan Providers are required to follow that guidance or have documented reasons for not doing so formally agreed by their governing body.

 

3.                  TREATING CUSTOMERS FAIRLY

 

  • Plan Providers must pay due regard to the interests of their customers and treat them fairly by ensuring that:

 

  • Customers feel confident that they are dealing with a Plan Provider where the fair treatment of customers is central to its culture.

 

  • Products and services marketed and sold are designed to meet the needs of customers.

 

  • Customers are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed before, during and after point of sale.

 

  • Where customers receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.

 

  • Customers are provided with products and associated services that perform and are of the standard as Plan Providers have led them to expect.

 

  • Customers do not face unreasonable post-sales barriers imposed by Plan Providers to change a plan, redeem or cancel a plan or make a

 

3.2 Vulnerable customers are those who, due to their personal circumstances, are            especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with            appropriate levels of Appendix 1 provides guidance on factors the FPA believes           should be considered when assessing whether a customer is or may be              vulnerable.

 

3.3 A Plan Provider must have a written policy that sets out how they will identify and treat vulnerable

 

3.4 Plan Providers will take the necessary steps to identify vulnerable customers or customers in vulnerable This will include ensuring all employees, agents or representative operating on the PlanProvider’s behalf are trained in the Plan Provider’s vulnerable customer policy. The consideration of funeral arrangements can, obviously, often arise at very difficult times. Plan Providers should be sensitive to this and take account of any other factors that might affect decisions to take out a plan or choose a funeral.

 

3.5 Plan Providers will make the necessary effort and time to ensure that vulnerable customers understand all aspects of signing a contract for a funeral Where appropriate, Plan Providers must suggest the involvement of a trusted friend or relative.

 

3.6 Plan Providers are prohibited from generating sales enquires or new orders from the creation, obtaining, distribution, maintenance or use of lists of specific customers that are susceptible to responding to cold calling approaches (sucker lists).

 

3.7 Where a Plan Provider undertakes a home visit for the sale of a funeral plan, the representative must leave immediately if requested to do so or if it becomes apparent that the customer is not interested in the goods or services the business is

 

3.8 Customers must be provided with a written cancellation This notice must inform customers of their right to cancel within 30 days or more of the date the customer received such notice without any cancellation or other fee being applied. This condition applies irrespective of the way the plan was sold.

 

 

4.                  MARKETING AND ADVERTISING

 

4.1 Plan Providers must ensure that any marketing or advertising which they undertake does not bring the funeral planning industry into disrepute and that their marketing and advertising:

 

  • is legal, accurate and, as a minimum, complies with all the other requirements of the British Code of Advertising Practice or other relevant Code of Practice and wider requirements of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;

 

  • complies with the Principle set out in 7;

 

  • only contains genuine customer endorsements which have been specifically approved by that customer;

 

  • only contains third party endorsements or sponsorship which have been specifically approved by that third party; and

 

  • makes no unsubstantiated claims about funeral plans or services provided by

 

4.2 Plan Providers must provide their employees, agents and representatives with training and written guidance on sales practices, which ensures that potential customers are given sufficient information before entering into a contract to make informed decisions about buying a funeral plan.

 

5.                  INFORMATION

 

5.1 Plan Providers must provide potential customers with written pre- contractual details of any funeral plan being offered, which clearly sets out the following in writing, irrespective of the preferred medium, electronic or hard copies:

 

  • 5.1.1 Information about the main characteristics of the service to be provided in the funeral

 

  • 5.1.2 The type and cost of funerals and other services which can be provided under the funeral plan including what is specifically included by each plan

 

  • 5.1.3 Pricing information showing the total price and a breakdown where appropriate, it must show VAT, administration charges, any instalment charges and any other costed items whether optional or

 

  • 5.1.4 Clear and transparent disclosure on what is not covered by the funeral plan and the potential for the family or estate to pay further amounts at time of This specifically relates to exclusions, these must not only be referred to in the footnotes.

 

  • 5.1.5 If the plan is paid for by instalments, what happens if someone dies before all payments have been

 

  • 5.1.6  If the plan is a fixed monthly payment insurance based plan details of when contributions are paid and when they cease and either:

 

  • the maximum total contributions that could be paid over the plan duration;

 

or

 

  • customer’s age at which contributions paid would equalthe current price of the equivalent

 

Details  of  any  moratorium  period  should  also  be  stated explicitly.

 

  • 5.1.7 The customer’s right to a full refund if the plan is cancelled within 30 days of its commencement (see Clause 8) and any rights to a refund which the customer has if the plan is cancelled by the customer after that time. This should include prominent reference to any cancellation charge that applies, any restrictions on receiving a refund and where no refund is available confirmation of that fact.

 

  • 5.1.8 What happens if the Plan Provider cannot meet its obligations under the plan.

 

  • 5.1.9 Details of the portability of the plan between different funeral directors, before and after the death of the planholder.

 

  • 5.1.10 How a customer may complain about the Plan Provider or any plan provided and how such complaints will be This should also include details of the option for the customer to refer a complaint to the FPA if dissatisfied.

 

  • 5.1.11 Provide details of the Plan Provider’s name, postal address and contact points.

 

  • 5.1.12 The other terms and conditions which apply to the plan.

 

  • 5.1.13 The fact that the Plan Provider is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority.

 

6.                  CONTRACTS AND DOCUMENTS

 

  • 6.1 Plan Providers must give every person who buys a funeral plan a written document, electronic or hard copy, which sets out the plan’s terms and conditions, the specification of the funeral to be provided and how the funeral plan may be amended or cancelled.

 

  • 6.2 Plan Providers must give every person who buys a funeral plan an electronic or hard copy of the customer’s membership card or certificate of A Plan Provider must replace a lost card or certificate once free of charge but may charge a reasonable fee for providing any further replacement cards or certificates.

 

  • 6.3 As part of the material provided to the planholder there should be a plan summary and a key features document that sets out the services covered by the plan and those that are This may form part of other documents but should be accessible to customers both in terms of format and content.

 

  • 6.4 Plan Providers must ensure that every person who buys a funeral plan is given guidance on either how to register a death or the key contacts needed to begin the process of

 

7.                  PLAN FUNDS

 

  • 7.1. Plan Providers must comply with the FPA’s Rules relating to the security of the plan In particular, those Rules require Plan Providers to either:

 

  • 7.1.1 Pay money received for funeral plans, as soon as practicable, into an account maintained by trustees (the majority of whom must be unconnected with the Plan Provider) who have been approved by the FPA.

 

  • 7.1.2 Have the funds invested by an independent fund manager who is authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act

 

  • 7.1.3 Have the trust funds audited annually and reviewed by an actuary.

 

  • 7.1.4 Only use the trust funds for their proper purpose; or

 

7.2 Apply money received for funeral plans, as soon as practicable towards a contract of whole life assurance with an authorised person who has permission to effect and carry out such contracts of

 

 

8.                  COMPLAINTS AND DISPUTES

 

  • 8.1 The FPA defines a complaint as: Any expression of dissatisfaction raised by a customer or on behalf of a customer whether oral or written, justifiable or not.

 

  • 8.2 A Plan Provider must have a clearly defined and documented Complaints Process.

 

  • 8.3 Plan Providers must allow complaints to be made by any reasonable means.

 

  • 8.4 A Plan Provider must put in place appropriate management controls and take reasonable steps to ensure that in handling of complaints it identifies and remedies any recurring or systemic

 

  • 8.5 A customer who is dissatisfied with the service provided by a Plan Provider should, in the first place, contact that Plan Provider who must acknowledge receipt of the complaint to the customer in writing within 7 working days of receiving a complaint.

 

  • 8.6 A Plan Provider must provide contact details of the FPA to a customer in the final letter to a complainant and in any holding letter if the complaint is not resolved within 8 weeks of the Plan Provider receiving it.

 

  • 8.7 If a Plan Provider cannot resolve a complaint to the customer’s satisfaction, the customer should contact the FPA (whose address and telephone number are set out below). The FPA provides an independent conciliation and arbitration service.

 

  • 8.8 Plan Providers are required to co-operate with the customer redress procedures and to participate in the independent conciliation and arbitration service mentioned in paragraph 7. Plan Providers are bound by an arbitrator’s decision, subject to the right of the Plan Provider or the customer to seek a review of the decision.

 

 

  • 8.9 If in the course of any conciliation, or following the conclusion of any arbitration, it appears that a Plan Provider has infringed this Code of Practice, the FPA may take disciplinary action against that Plan Provider in accordance with its Rules.

 

  • 8.10 Plan Providers must provide on all price lists and other promotional material an address and email address (or, if this is not practicable, a telephone number) to which communications may be directed.

 

  • 8.11 Plan Providers must have copies of this Code of Practice available to distribute to customers and others free of charge.

 

  • 8.12 Plan Providers must display the logo of the FPA at their place of business and on all price lists and other promotional material.

 

  • 8.13 Plan Providers must co-operate fully with those representing consumers including trading standards officers, Citizens’ Advice Bureau or other consumer advisers.

 

 

9.                  SUPPLIERS, SELLERS OR PROVIDERS OF SERVICES

 

  • Under the FPA Rules, Plan Providers are responsible for the acts and omissions of any third party they work with in providing funeral Consequently, they should have procedures in place to ensure that any third party is operating in line with this Code of Practice and the FPA Rules. The FPA is aware that the situation could arise where more than one Plan Provider, and potentially providers that are not registered with the Authority, may be working with any third party. This does not absolve the Plan Provider from the requirements set out in this section 9 of the Code of Practice.

 

  • As a minimum the FPA would expect a Plan Provider to:

 

  • carry out due diligence before working with a new third party;

 

  • have in place a written contract;

 

  • ensure contractual arrangements require the third party to operate in line with the FPA Rules and Code of Practice;

 

  • ensure that contractual arrangements between the Plan Provider and the third party would cover the right to control messages and marketing materials, requirements in respect of training, requirements in respect of monitoring including access to the source of all data used in the sales process;

 

 

  • set remuneration arrangements, which should not result in product bias or customer detriment either through incentivising inappropriate selling processes and sales or undermining the financial position of the Plan Provider in a manner that risks the ability to deliver any new plan or existing plans;

 

  • restrict the use of sub-agents without specific permission from the Plan Provider (and in any event after appropriate due diligence has been conducted by the Plan Provider); and

 

  • have appropriate termination rights and processes so the Plan Provider can terminate if the third party

 

  • Plan Providers should have in place a clear, structured and documented on-boarding process for any new third

 

  • Plan Providers should monitor the third party operation to ensure that the FPA Rules and Code of Practice are being adhered Such monitoring should be clearly documented and available for inspection on request by the FPA.

 

  • Where a Plan Provider is working with a third party who is working with other funeral plan providers this does not absolve the Plan Provider in respect of their responsibility to ensure the third party is complying with the FPA Rules and Code of

 

 

  1. DATA PROTECTION        ACT       1998      AND       GENERAL        DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS 2018

 

  • Plan Providers must ensure that they comply fully with GDPR requirements, this includes but is not limited to, asking for customer consent to hold and use personal data, recording consent, managing consent and withdrawal of

 

  • Plan Providers must co-operate fully with the FPA recognising the specific consent given to FPA by customers under data protection regulations to share and discuss customer data for the sole purpose of investigating complaints under clause 7.

 

 

11.              PLEDGE TO CUSTOMERS

 

All Plan Providers shall co-operate in the delivery of the FPA’s “Pledge to Customers” by which, in the event of the insolvency of a Plan Provider, the other Plan Providers will examine ways in which the FPA might assist in arranging delivery of the funeral of the customers of the insolvent Plan Provider. The extent of this co- operation will be at the discretion of the individual Plan Providers.

 

Anyone who experiences difficulty in obtaining services under a funeral plan because a Plan Provider or funeral director is insolvent or no longer in business should immediately contact the FPA.

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Planning Authority CiC

Barham Court, Teston, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 5BZ Telephone: 0845  601 9619

e-mail:   [email protected]

website:   www.funeralplanningauthority.co.uk

© Funeral Planning Authority CiC April 2019

How to Find A Lost Funeral Plan

find lost insurance policy

How do I find a lost funeral insurance?

Finding a lost funeral plan after death is not straightforward. Much better to get the ducks in a row earlier, as actions you take after death just could invalidate an otherwise perfectly good plan. But if you are looking at this, it is probably too late. 

Typically, the aged parent has said that they have a plan, but no one has pinned them down as to what it was – or they just can’t remember.

Here is what to do to find details of that elusive lost funeral plan, ideally in advance:

  1. Obviously, check through the paperwork for a funeral plan (or more likely for older people, an insurance policy).
  2. Check bank statements for payments to funeral plan or insurance companies. For funeral plans, payment may have been in one go, many years ago.   For insurance policies, the older type pre-regulation policies may have been made paid up with a value, so payments could have stopped decades ago.   For the awful post regulation policies often with no cash value, a policy may well be valueless if it is a non-profit whole of life, and a few missed payments mean everything is lost.  But still worth asking.
  3. For lost funeral plans, the only central point to check is the Funeral Planning Authority, but not all funeral plan companies are members. However, you could cross check against their members and the list of companies we review.
  4. If that fails, you can check for lost insurance policies (etc) on the Unclaimed Assets Register https://www.uar.co.uk/ or ring 0333 000 0182 – you may even turn up some other assets! The biggest seller of Over 50’s Plans is Axa Sun Life on  0800 008 6060 though there are dozens of others as over 500,000 a year take out these insurances.  See our review.

How to avoid having a lost Funeral Plan:

    • Make sure your family knows about your plan, whether it be a proper prepaid plan or a life insurance policy, and how to claim on it as doing the wrong thing may invalidate it.
    • Ensure both you and your family fully understand what is paid for and what is not covered.  We never cease to be amazed by the number of people buying plans over the phone without seeing the full terms and conditions.
    • Always have the paperwork with other important documents in a designated folder that the family can find easily.
      • Never pay for a funeral plan in cash as there is less of a record of payment.
    • When moving house, tell your funeral plan provider. The cost may vary in the new area with some plans.

Pay Monthly Funeral Plans?

Monthly Payment Funeral Plans – what is available?

Most funeral plans allow monthly payments to be spread over 12 months, some over 24 months and some even longer – with no interest! Not that you will see interest mentioned these days, it will be called an “admin fee.”

But you must pay off in full within the interest-free period or the “admin fee” will be backdated but if it turns out that you can’t afford a full plan just now, there are alternatives.

As you will see, some monthly plans can be paid off over as long as 40 years – though you have to be under 50 to be allowed that long!  Always bear in mind that funeral costs seem to continue to rise far faster than normal inflation – or savings!

You can always set up a partial plan – everything helps!

pay monthly funeral plansEven if you can’t afford to pay the full costs of a monthly funeral plan, you can at least relieve those left behind of a part of the cost of paying for your funeral with a plan which just covers the funeral directors fees and not the third party costs such as crematorium, minister, interment (digging the grave for burial). The cost of a burial plot is not in a funeral plan as they vary from a few hundred pounds to well over ten thousand pounds.

Avoid Over 50s Insurance Plans.

The temptation is to go for one of the Over 50s insurance plans where every penny can be lost if a few instalments are missed at any time.  We accept that they have a place in the market, but we doubt if many ever pay out enough to pay for a funeral, assuming they are not cancelled accidentally before then.

In terms of cost per month, depending on your age, costs can be from £14 to £20 a month for a very basic plan. One plan is £6.25 a month for a 50-year-old – but it is insurance based and you have to pay every month until you are 90 (or die before then!) But at least it guarantees a funeral, even though very basic.

But I have a Deposit

Some companies insist on a minimum deposit, but the bigger the deposit, the lower the monthly contribution.  With current interest rates (Feb 2019) you won’t be earning much interest on savings accounts, and funeral costs are rising far more rapidly, so a funeral plan is a better “investment” for most people.

How low can monthly premiums be?

This depends on which plan is the best fit for you (remember, we are independent, so look for the best deal for you) and your age.  Most monthly plans are over a maximum of 10 years, with one or two going to 15 years or even longer.  But most insist that the plan is paid in full by the age of 85.

Contact us on 0800 0588 240 or use the enquiry form to the right – we promised no hard sell, just honest, independent advice.

Sensible Approach to Funeral Plan Regulation

Response to call for evidence on Regulation of Pre Paid Funeral Plans

From Derek Forbes trading as Forbes Management

Contents.

  1. Overall opinion and views by Forbes Management
  2. Appendix – answers to consultation questions 1-18
  3. Background and involvement with statutory and voluntary regulation of legal and financial products and services stretches back over several decades.

The views expressed in this response are the views of Derek Forbes (trading as Forbes Management) alone and do not represent the views of, although may well coincide with, any other individual, firm or organisation. No other individual, firm or organisation has been consulted prior to the submission of this response.

The PPFP sector is in need of regulation, but great care must be taken not to repeat the disruption caused by the FSA (as was) in the late 1980’s when a regulatory regime was created that wiped out the direct selling sector of the life insurance industry by imposing unacceptable administrative burdens on the customer facing sales process. Lengthy fact finds, “reasons why” letters and commission disclosure made the sales process too burdensome for simple domestic sales and almost all life companies disbanded their sales forces. Estimates are that some 40-50,000 hard-working and honest men and women lost their jobs. All to counter the dishonest activities of a few high profile intermediaries who were too clever to be caught anyway and simply went on to engage in other market sectors where they could operate with impunity.

The result is that, today, in the domestic market, hardly anyone buys life insurance, savings plans or individual personal pensions. The government has recently cut bereavement payments to widows with young children. A simple term insurance sold to a young husband would have cost very little for a substantial sum assured. Sadly there is no one left to sell such policies. The saying applies: “Insurance is sold, not bought”.

Retirees who are not in an occupational pension scheme have very little put away for old age and most C1 and lower category individuals rely largely on the OAP for retirement income. This situation and trends will only worsen as the population ages. Financial advisers concentrate almost exclusively on high net worth individuals and corporates. The average age of IFA’s is estimated at around 50+ as very few young people see financial advice (previously known as insurance sales) as a career path.

Had the regulation been directed at the product providers (the life offices), who were obsessed with premium income and manpower at the expense of virtually everything else, this current scenario could have been avoided.  Sadly the life offices did not want to erect any barriers to maximum business and turned a blind eye to malpractice and courted big and sometimes disreputable business producers with “golden hellos”. They refused to monitor the activities of their own salespeople – let alone the independents and tied agencies. Initially “compliance officers” were appointed by the life offices, but were largely ineffective due to the continuous courtship of high producing sales people. In a number of cases the compliance officers were too scared to report on the misdemeanours of the high producers and were told to “lay off”. So the many (both the sales people and the public at large) suffered because of the misdemeanours of the few and the lack of concern by the providers.

Similar situations must not be allowed to arise in the PPFP market, as this kind of over-regulation would similarly kill off the market.

Future regulation of PPFP’s, therefore, should concentrate on the plan providers and not on the client facing sales process. It must be remembered that PPFP sales are hardly ever the main business activity of those who sell them. They are secondary to funeral directors – obviously – as their main function is carrying out funerals. Other advisers, largely will writers and IFA’s, do not see PPFP’s as their main function and are nearly always an ancillary service to existing clients. Excessive administrative burdens such as individual registration, authorisation, extensive paperwork and commission disclosure will simply remove the incentive to sell the products.

Whilst generous commissions may be seen as an incentive to carry on under strict statutory regulation, the plan providers would be disincentivised by excessive compliance burdens such as the supervision of direct (statutory) regulation of customer-facing individual salespeople and firms.

Previous Treasury initiatives to regulate the PPFP sector were more effective. In 1999 consultation took place leading to the inclusion of PPFP’s in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This established the two main vehicles for funding PPFP’s – (Regulated Activities Order 2001) I.E. Trust based plans and Life Insurance based plans.

Incidentally I was involved, representing the Society of Will Writers, with the Treasury consultation to regulate will writing in the early 2000’s– this was not pursued. It was a blatant attempt at protectionism by the Law Society. It is interesting to speculate as to from whence comes the impetus for the current PPFP consultation. A diverse market in terms of provision should be encouraged and not be allowed to rest in the control of a few very large providers.

Future regulation should be created to concentrate upon customer protection from the product providers. The providers should be responsible for the activities of those who sell their plans, rather than direct statutory regulation of individuals and firms.

Protection for the customer should be provided in the two main categories of PPFP’s as follows:

Trust based plans.

  1. There should be maximum transparency surrounding the trust and its workings.
  2. An annual trust report should be issued and available to all customers.
  3. The annual report should include a breakdown of trust investments and a description of investment strategy.
  4. A comment on the basis of actuarial valuation of assets to liabilities. For example whilst Government Securities may represent a very safe investment, fluctuating interest rates can have an effect on capital values.
  5. Disclosure of amounts drawn from the trust for marketing initiatives and other activities.
  6. Declaration of any trust fund surpluses and details of how the surplus is distributed – ratio of retention in the trust and distribution to directors and others.
  7. Full disclosure of how the trust attempts to combat inflation. (Recently one major provider uplifted its payments to funeral directors by 1% to cover two years annual inflation).
  8. Breakdown of guaranteed elements of the plan and disbursements, together with administrative costs within each plan.

Life insurance based plans.

  1. Disclosure of the amount of client money allocated to the insurance policy.
  2. Disclosure of any financial relationship between the provider and the life company.
  3. How the life policy combats inflation.

Other safeguards.

Providers should ensure that intermediaries adhere to a recognised code of conduct. No cold calling, no misleading, no pressure selling etc. The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) will doubtless create a workable model for this.

Thought to be given as to the differences between providers who are funeral directors and providers who are not.

The former can easily instruct their own employed staff to carry out the funerals, and can even conduct funerals arising from funeral plans below cost as “loss leaders” in order to increase market share, but they have no such control over funeral directors who they may appoint in areas where they do not have one of their own FD’s.

For providers who are not FD’s, thought should be given as to the details of the contracts between the provider and the FD and any other financial interest that may exist between the two. Should incentives to sell certain products by differential commission rates depending upon the product sold or enhanced commission or other incentives be offered depending upon the volume of sales submitted by the intermediary? The role of the FPA in all the above will be crucial. Will the FPA have statutory powers to discipline providers who fall short of the codes of behaviour set out by the FPA?

A transparent complaints procedure should be in place. Should all providers be bound to report all complaints to the FPA or should the FPA make regular check on such issues? The role of the CQC in the monitoring of GP practices whilst very much more complex and multi-layered than potential regulation of PPFP’s is a good model for a regulatory regime.

Other issues

The FPA could be required to insist that providers monitor the fitness of secondary agents – individuals or firms. This could be achieved by ensuring that such sales outlets adhere to a strict code of conduct. This could be addressed by ensuring that such parties belong to recognise statutory body I.E. Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) or direct authorisation by the FCA (IFA’s), CII and others such as ILEX, ICA etc.

Voluntary regulators should be included provided that they monitor their members to ensure the members adhere to an acceptable code of conduct to include carrying PI insurance and commit to Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Such bodies would include The Society of Will Writers (SWW) the Institute of Professional Will Writers (IPW) and others.

Consideration should be given to empower the FPA to monitor the terms and conditions issued by providers. Particularly the readability and ease of understanding. Many contracts for PPFP and other goods and services in the marketplace generally have T&C’s that are hard to read and are largely very legalistic, designed to provide a “get out” in cases of dispute. Bearing in mind that many PPFP customers are elderly, maybe with poor eyesight, to make a contract dependent upon the customer having “read and understood” the T&C’s, as many providers do, is unfair. In other market sectors this problem is even worse – consumer credit agreements, car leases etc. are all virtually impossible to understand without legal expertise. In addition, most people just tick “accept” when signing up for services on line. The recent Plain English Campaign www.plainenglish.co.uk should be adopted by those regulating the PPFP sector.

Finally, some products are marketed as “Funeral Plans” but are actually term insurance policies on the life of the customer. In other words just a way of providing a sum of money upon death. Some of these policies are issued with very restrictive conditions, such as cancellation of the policy if one monthly premium is missed.

Is it the intention or within the remit of the consultation to address the way these policies are marketed and a more specific description of their nature be insisted upon?

  1. Appendix

Answers to consultation questions 1-18

Question 1: Are there any other common ways to structure funeral plans, not outlined in this call for evidence?

Answer 1.Not to my knowledge – but some older FD firms still take customer money and “keep it” to fund future funerals without using the approved trust or life assurance channels. The FPA will investigate any such instances that are brought to their attention.

Question 2: Are funeral plan providers always the policyholder of underlying insurance policies? Are you aware of any examples of insurance intermediation within the funeral plan sector?

Answer 2. As far as I know the provider holds the policy on the life of the client as “life of another”. Some IFA’s sell plans.  Also as mentioned above: The relationship between provider and life company should be transparent.

Question 3: Where providers engage with third parties (e.g. funeral directors, charities, external companies), in what capacity do these third parties act and what is their relationship to the funeral plan provider? How are market participants remunerated and do any conflicts of interest arise?

Answer 3. As agents (retailers) of the plan providers’ products. Some FD’s are owned by the provider. Remuneration is usually by commission on plans sold. The FPA limits the percentage of the plan price that can be used to fund all acquisition costs. Non FPA members do not need to follow these guidelines

Question 4: Are there any additional issues you think the government should be aware of in relation to the way in which funeral plan products are structured or sold?

Answer 4. My views are outlined in the main text of my submission

Question 5: How, and through what channels, do funeral plan providers communicate with consumers for the purposes of distributing information, promoting and selling funeral plans?

Answer 5. Differs provider to provider – some communicate fully, some are opaque. Should the ASA be tasked to ensure “honest –truthful etc”. Some advertising copy is clearly designed to avoid important detailed features of the product. E.G. Not a clear explanation of the difference between guaranteed services and disbursements.

Question 6: What are your views on the scale and nature of consumer detriment at the point of sale? Please provide evidence where possible.

Answer 6. Hard to determine. Recent TV documentary exposed overselling. Also see comments in my submission above regarding Terms & Conditions. It should be borne in mind at all times that many PPFP customers are possibly elderly and vulnerable.

Question 7: To what extent is cold calling present within the funeral plan sector and does this present an additional or specific risk to consumers?

Answer 7. There are still outbound call centres. GDPR may improve this, but many are based on ”life style surveys” and client has no recollection of requesting information – probably just filled in survey to enter a competition.

Question 8: How much on average do consumers pay for funeral plans and in what circumstances would consumers pay money directly to funeral providers?

Answer 8. Varies considerably – hopefully based on national averages of “at need” costs. Most plans require money paid direct to provider or associated account. Most providers offer both monthly and single payment options. Monthly plans not to be confused with monthly life assurance term assurance plans advertised as “funeral policies or plans”.

Question: 9: What protections are currently in place for consumers (for example, complaints procedures) and how effective are these protections? How can complaints and claims be brought against funeral plan providers after the death of the customer?

Answer 9. FPA is in a better position to answer – depends on FPA membership and specific procedures. Providers should have complaints procedures. Some providers choose not to be subject to FPA membership and regulation

Question: 10: What protections are currently in place for consumers if a funeral plan provider were to have insufficient money to pay claims, and what is your view of their effectiveness?

Answer 10. Membership of FPA has a degree of protection – maybe should be greater – small issues could be absorbed. Large failures would be problematic.

Question 11: What is your experience of the scale and nature of consumer detriment (if any) that arises once a funeral plan has been entered into? Does this vary for different types of plans?

Answer 11. It does differ – is a funeral director appointed at outset and jointly guarantees with the provider to carry out his services at no extra cost however far into the future the funeral is required?, or does the provider have to search for a provider at time of need? This is particularly important if there is a shortfall in assets to liabilities. Probably does not arise for insurance based plans – only trust based plans – especially if the trust is not fully transparent. The client must not be misled into thinking that a specific funeral director has agreed to the plan when only a preference has been recorded.

Question 12: What are your views on the proposal to bring the sector within the scope of the FOS and/or the FSCS? What are most common types of complaints against funeral providers?

Answer 12. Presumably these remedies are only available to FCA regulated entities, so not advisable for reasons given elsewhere in this response. Unclear about level and types of complaints – providers do not generally publish these, but FPA should have powers to demand records of all complaints. (Rather like CQC does with GP practices).

Question 13: What types of investment strategies are being adopted by trustees who are managing trusts on behalf of funeral plan providers and what is your view on the effectiveness of these strategies in securing the short and long-term interests of plan-holders? Are trust returns withdrawn by providers for revenue raising/profit purposes and, if so, what proportion of these returns are withdrawn in this way?

Answer 13. This is fundamental to the issue of trust fund transparency. Some kind or overall monitoring should be in place – possibly by the FPA. Full reporting of acquisition margins are desirable. Are trust surpluses distributed to directors of the provider company and/or others? How is it decided what should be retained in the trust if a surplus arises?

Question 14: What are your views on the government’s proposal for FCA regulation of all funeral plan contracts and whether such a proposal will meet the government’s stated objectives (as set out above)? Do you consider that an alternative proposal could better meet these objectives?

Answer 14.  FCA regulation would probably impose excessive regulation on sales intermediaries – most would decide not to be involved, thus leading to collapse of the sector. My views set out more fully in my responses above – strengthening role of FPA in particular.

Question 15: How should the regulatory framework apply in relation to funeral plans that consumers have already entered into?

Answer 15. Probably impossible to create an effective structure. Only at need would any problem become apparent. Problems pre-need would be covered by complaints procedures.

Question 16: Should regulation extend beyond funeral plan providers, and apply to intermediaries engaged within the sector? Should such intermediaries become regulated entities, or should they be overseen by funeral plan providers as appointed representatives?

Answer 16. The latter – detailed reasons in my submission above. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION.

Question 17: What would be the overall impact on the market/your firm if all funeral plan contracts were subject to FCA regulation? Are there specific activities or businesses, such as SMEs, within the sector that would be particularly affected by strengthened regulation? What is your view of the potential costs and benefits of the government’s proposal?

Answer 17. As stated this would be a disaster – my reasons in my submission above.

Question 18: How long would the sector need to adapt to any new regulatory framework the government may seek to put in place?

Answer 18. Quite quickly – a few months for retraining and reprinting and distribution of amended literature. Firms who are not currently members of and regulated by the FPA would take longer as FPA would have to conduct fitness procedures etc.

DEREK FORBES July 2018.

Educated at The City of London School, Derek spent his early years training as a lawyer at The Law Society School of Law and then developed a career in financial services. He studied CII examinations at the Holborn College of Law, Language and Commerce. He was Abbey Life’s advertising and marketing manager in its early days and then became a top sales producer, qualifying for the international Million Dollar Round Table.

Moving into management he became the top branch manager with Crown Life and then National Sales Manager for the direct sales forces of both Sun Alliance and Sun Life.

During this time he was a founder member of the Life Insurance Association and became a main board director of the LIA. When the LIA merged to become the Personal Finance Society, Derek was invited to become an Honorary Life Member of the Personal Finance Authority. After the introduction of statutory regulation, the direct sales sector of the life insurance industry virtually disappeared, so Derek pursued a career as a legal and financial marketing consultant. He became a Law Society approved training provider and senior management trainer at the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, where he was awarded the Companionship of the Institute.

Seeing the potential of will writing he joined, and was invited to become the Honorary Chancellor of The Society of Will Writers and a member of their Executive Council, arranging and chairing their first ten annual conferences.

For twenty years he has been a business partner of Funeral Planning Services Ltd, designing and distributing funeral plans specifically for the legal and financial professions.

When Funeral Planning Services was taken over by The Ecclesiastical Insurance Company in January 2017, Forbes Management decided to use Funeral Partners Limited as the provider of the Legal & Financial Funeral Plans.

Derek’s knowledge of sales, marketing and management and the effects of regulation is extensive and his funeral planning design and distribution business model is based upon an extensive understanding of the problems and opportunities in the Will Writing and the legal and financial services marketplace.

He has written countless articles and books and has lectured extensively both in the UK and overseas. Mentioned in Debrett’s People of Today, Derek is a Liveryman and a Freeman of the City of London. He has served as a trustee of a number of local charities and has been chairman of his local council.

Golden Leaves Award

Golden Leaves Scoops London Business Enterprise Award


Golden Leaves have won their category for the 2017 London Business Enterprise Awards….

Golden Leaves Wins Award

Barry Floyd, Managing Director said “Receiving any kind of formal award or accolade as a business is of course wonderful, but to receive a “London” business enterprise award (our ancestral home), is something that truly resonates and is particularly special for us here at Golden Leaves.

“For any local business like ours to be independently recognized for its achievements and growth not only in London, but nationally, really is extremely flattering.

Golden Leaves began life from very humble beginnings operating out of a tiny back room office situated in Rowland Brothers Funeral Directors (a funeral company that has been serving the local communities since 1870.) Golden Leaves are still based in Thornton Heath, Croydon, South London. Early in 1984, the funeral planning product itself was named “Golden Leaves” and specifically devised to provide the option for individuals who wished to pre plan, pre design and pre pay for their end of life services. The product provides peace of mind for the purchaser whilst delivering significant financial and emotional benefits for the loved ones they leave behind. Golden Leaves the product, was eventually to evolve into a limited company in its own right a few years later and at that point in the late 1980’s, Golden Leaves, the brand, was born.

Since its formation, Golden Leaves have been at the forefront of the Funeral planning sector in the United Kingdom. Whilst helping establish the NAPFP (National Association for Pre-Paid Funeral Plans) it was heavily involved in launching the first nationally recognized set of quality / service, code of conduct standards which covered correct ethical and compliant sales behavior as well as clearly understandable marketing material. Golden Leaves were also pivotal in the negotiations with Her Majesty’s Treasury and the FSA in 2000, negotiations that eventually led to the formation of the government and FCA recognized sector self-regulatory body – the FPA (The Funeral Planning Authority).

The funeral planning Industry itself, has grown dramatically from what was no more than a handful of operators selling a few hundred plans a year in those heady early days, to what is now a multi-billion pound industry selling over 200,000 policies a year across a diverse and complex set of distribution channels throughout the country. The growth of the industry has seen the market expand year on year, products evolve and offerings diversify, Insurance groups, sales companies, national charities, giant supermarket brands and massive Public Limited Companies enter the sector offering the product: blazing a path of increasing growth amid fierce competition.

In an exploding market, and in the face of competition from companies well over 40 times its size, Golden Leaves steadfastly redeveloped its brand identity, modernized its offices, systems, staff and field partner training, developed a new product proposition and relaunched its suite of products and modernized brand into the sector. It launched a new pricing strategy and flexible partnership style that also saw it emerge as increasingly attractive to funeral directing and affinity sales partners alike. Positioning the brand as a credible alternative to the corporates and Independent competitor base helped maintain the position of the business and over time push it forward from a healthy and consolidated platform. The reputation of the business had now begun to change from one of an old and historic company to a cutting edge, strategic and tenacious one with heritage and pedigree. The company soon began to experience sales figures increasing at an annual rate of 50%.

So, at a point in the sectors evolution when competition is at its most fierce, Golden Leaves has been remarkably resilient. In the face of adversity this south London based company, has grown at a faster rate than any other funeral planning company registered with the FPA.  Since 2009 the companies growth has outstripped that of the entire market year on year and the statistics provided by the sector regulatory body. Even with its market share rising to the highest point in the organisation’s history this year, we are proud to say that even during these times of accelerated growth, we have never lost sight of our core principles. We place our clients (our golden leaves) at the heart of everything we do, which is one of the reasons that our brand, that took over thirty years to build, is so trusted.

Finally but I firmly believe most importantly, we would like to thank all of our field and head office staff whose tireless dedication and devotion to the business has made this Award possible.

Without them, battling on through all of those difficult hours and throughout all of those hard fought weeks, months and years Golden Leaves would have never been able to even survive in such a fiercely competitive marketplace and against such overwhelming odds, let alone flourish and continue to deliver annual year on year growth, as it does today.

Barry Floyd – Managing Director – Golden Leaves Group”

Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review team said “We congratulated Barry and his first rate team on offering an excellent, flexible and first rate product.  No one plan or company in this complicated market is right for everyone, but the Golden Leaves proposition always deserves close consideration.!