Tag Archives: funeral plan market

Golden Leaves The State of the Funeral Plan Market: Is Critiscism Well Founded?

(This is an interesting article – what it doesn’t emphasise is how important it is to get Independent advice on funeral plans – and we don’t think there is anyone who can match us in that respect!)

The State of The Funeral Plan Market.

Some openly aired criticism of the funeral planning industry is fair, appropriate and deserved. In fact harsh criticism in any industry is healthy, as it allows a sector to develop regulation to further improve its standards. Conversely, though, some of the over-exuberant and rather unattractive ‘bandwagon’ jumping, that the industry has witnessed particularly from some quarters of late – really hasn’t been helpful at all.

Golden Leaves Managing Director, Barry Floyd criticized media reporting of late, claiming that some journalists should be ashamed of themselves for publishing articles, some of which were so poor, that they were bordering on  “Sensationalist and scaremongering”

“It is a very sad day indeed when we see the general public being confused by a combination of poor, sensationalist and inaccurate reporting, shambolic radio shows and widespread confusion in terms of media content, as to the differences between the pre-need product and the poor value funeral insurance product. Does that mean that Golden Leaves or indeed most of the industry as a whole, is guilty of poor quality standards whilst delivering an unstable, unsustainable or poor value for money product to its clients – frankly, of course it doesn’t.

Our industry was founded by companies with pedigree, ethics and consumer protection at their very core and many of those companies still exist today and are just as reputable as they were decades ago. Golden Leaves has been pivotal in the development of the funeral planning industry since its inception in the early 1980s (being founder members of both the NAPFP and the FPA) and with this historical positioning in mind, we firmly believe that we are in a particularly credible position to deliver, quality, standards, valued products accompanied by impeccable heritage and pedigree. Golden Leaves has always had an intensely customer focused view of what constitutes appropriate sales practices and behaviour.

We refuse to work with far more sales partners than we agree to and this is testament to our robust compliance and on-boarding programmes. This fundamental approach by the brand has been clearly underpinned by a constant leadership team at Golden Leaves over the last eight years, whilst nearly all other mainstream planning companies have had several major officer appointment changes during that same period and some have even had a number of ownership changes. All this at a stage in the sector’s evolution, when it has experienced significant growth, most of which has been achieved by generating interest and sales outside of the funeral home, a channel that nearly all plan providers operate in.”

Since 2009, Golden Leaves has experienced meteoric growth that has seen its sales outstrip the performance increase of the FPA registered market over the same period by almost 400 per cent. The company’s market share has also increased to the highest point in the company’s history.

“All this growth has occurred at a time when increased market participants, operating across more varied distribution channels have made competition in the sector fierce. We are proud to say that even during these times of accelerated growth, we have not lost sight of our core principles. Our customer satisfaction rate is 99.8 percent based on our level of complaints compared against our level of sales. This is not to say that we are perfect. No brand operates without the occasional hiccup and this is why we vehemently support the increasing of the rigidity of the regulatory framework and governance provided by the FPA. Although all planning companies operate differing models, we believe that there should be a base level of quality and standards for all companies to at least achieve.”

The Golden Leaves Trust fund is fast approaching £100,000,000 with a surplus running at over 20 per cent surplus over its liabilities. It’s board of Trustees have significant backgrounds in both the field of consumer protection, trading standards and the world of financial investments; underpinning this are their investment banks Julius Baer (the world’s most capitalised bank) who have also just won the EUROMONEY award as the ‘World’s best bank for Wealth Management’ and Quilter Cheviot, one of the largest UK Investment banks that have been at the forefront of the investment sector for over 240 years.

“All Golden Leaves funeral plan funds are either placed into an insurance that is FCA regulated or an FPA regulated Trust fund providing security of funds to all of our clients. This is a position certainly not enjoyed by some other planning companies. So standing out from the sector is Golden Leaves, a company with an impeccable history and heritage. We believe we deliver a market leading product, secure and competitively priced, that protects our clients at the time of need whilst delivering significant peace of mind for their next of kin. 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.”

This article was first published in the Funeral Service Times.

Funeral Plan Market – Competition Cutting Costs

Exciting Times in the Funeral Plan Market

Massive changes in the market are giving the public even better value and wider choice.  MPs seem to think that prepaid funeral plans are somehow responsible for pushing up the cost of funerals. Professional advisers know that is wrong, and it is nice to have some proof to share. The complete reverse is true: prepaid plans are cutting funeral costs, certainly for those who own them.

In recent days at least four of the major funeral plan providers have introduce exciting (well, to us) new funeral plans. At least two more providers are gently pushing into the market at lower prices.

The Co-op and Dignity have introduced low cost direct cremation plans. (We’re not wildly keen on Direct Cremation plans – see our section on them. The funeral plan market has never been more competitive.

Golden Charter have slashed prices and improved their competitive position substantially.

Both Golden Charter and Safe Hands have introduced interesting new products which slim down the cost of funerals. You do lose a little flexibility, but the costs are much reduced.

As readers will know, the fund holding side of funeral plans is highly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Whatever the Funeral Planning Authority may say, they are not a Regulator.

Providers in the Funeral Plan market must abide by advertising authorities, as must advisers like ourselves, and the Advertising Standards Authority, Trading Standards and the Courts can help anyone who is badly treated by the industry. (We say, always read the small print – there is rarely that much of it in this business!)

Does Parliament Really Want To Reduce Competition and increase Costs?

Members of Parliament have recommended that sales of funeral plans be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. What they don’t understand is that – far from reducing prices and increasing competition, the reverse will happen. Financial Services became regulated in 1988. Around 90% of advisers were eventually driven out of the market, leaving most of the population (other than the wealthy) without advice.  How  Mainly through massive additional cost of complying with and paying for (often) silly rules. I remember sitting in my office when a client asked a simple question to which the answer was obvious to me – it was a Yes/No question. But I couldn’t answer it without going through lots of hoops and backside covering exercise. These days, if you went to a low cost Independent Financial Adviser, that Yes/ No answer would probably cost you £300. That is if you could find an adviser who takes on folk who are not wealthy. The days of free financial advice are gone – at least, if you want it to be independent.

The FCA have pretended to provide non-”advice” themselves and failed dismally, they have introduced hybrid business models and they are now encouraging “robo advice.”

So in nearly 30 years, the population has grown, the need for advice has grown dramatically, and the supply of advice has shrunk by 90% and the number of product suppliers has also shrunk substantially.

So if you want to reduce the number of people taking out funeral plans, reduce competition and allow prices to rise, ask your MP to promote the Financial Conduct Authorities efforts to take on ever more jobsworths.

There are very few independent advisers on funeral plans. We are one. Save the funeral plan market from higher costs and often pointless regulation.  Keep costs down and competition up!

Funeral Plan Market Review – UK Prepaid Funeral Plans

The Funeral Plan Market Reviewed.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Here at the Prepaid Funeral Review, we have had a really interesting year so far. Lots of changes and a booming market mean constantly updating our research so we can offer unbiased advice from across the market.

The market is bewildering and most people are aware of the firms with big marketing budgets. But remember that YOU will be paying for the advertising if you buy their hyped up plan.   And their salesforce is ONLY going to sell their plans!! We hear of members of the companies direct sales force earning six figure incomes (note to self – should I apply for a job?!)

We are particularly proud of our negotiations which have resulted in The Family Funeral Plan – one which can be used by the first member of the family to die, even if that should be unexpected. Every family should have one of these, and replace it once it is used, just as a basic precaution against the substantial extra expense of an unexpected funeral.   Much better value than life insurance which helps out only if a specific person dies.   But of course, that plan is not right for everyone.

We have also created an introducers scheme aimed at professional advisers who don’t have the time or resources to keep the market under constant review.

We are also concerned that access to instalment schemes which are a tremendous boon to some could be dramatically restricted by the FCA.  They are threatening to treat this as a credit agreement and charge a £1000 licence fee as well as creating endless pretty pointless paperwork for all concerned. All of which will restrict advice and put up costs to you.

Ch ch cha Changes

Hardly a month passes by when the plan providers don’t change something, which changes the plan we would recommend to you. Usually it is simple stuff like price rises. They are easy to deal with, though we foresee some pretty large ones coming up in the next few months, so those buying soon will be far better off than those buying the same plan in a few months time.

But the interesting thing is that the big players in the market are often not offering the best value for our clients. Or anywhere near it in some cases. Some are struggling with image problems, whilst others are perhaps building up massive overheads which could cause them (but not plan holders whose money is ring fenced) problems in the future.

£195 voucher to clients.

Please don’t forget that your funeral plan is just a part of your planning, and we offer a £95 voucher for a no obligation Legal Planning Review and a £100 voucher towards implementing any recommendations the review makes. Better still, if you are superbly organised already, you can pass either or both vouchers on to a family member or a friend – or raffle it off for charity!

So why not get the ball rolling today?