The key questions you should be asking your funeral plan provider
FCA funeral plan regulation: the results of our exclusive research in association with Funeral Solution Expert
With so much thrown at the funeral sector all at once (Covid-19, CMA and FCA regulation), it never fails to amaze us how funeral directors simply deliver week in week out. So, from us, a big thank you for taking the time to complete our recent survey and in doing so raising £500 for Hospice UK.
This survey was commission by Funeral Solution Expert, an independent and unbiased research and consultancy company co-founded by highly experienced expert Simon Cox.
More than 120 funeral directors responded to the survey, representing nine different funeral plan firms, some with their own plan, those with a plan from a single funeral plan company and firms which offer plans from more than one provider.
Our findings show a strong level of awareness about regulation and high confidence levels in their plan providers’ preparedness for what is to come.
However, funeral directors are less certain about the consequences of regulation and our findings suggest they have an unfulfilled need for compliance support.
Awareness and confidence
Some 87% of funeral directors say they are aware of FCA regulation, with 55% saying they understand the consequences.
This positivity is further underpinned with high expectation scores about their plan providers’ preparedness and capability to achieve authorisation. On a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is extremely confident) an average score of 8.92 suggests high levels of confidence.
Despite this positive feedback, there is still a sizeable proportion of funeral directors who don’t fully understand what regulation means and how it will impact them – 32% saying they were aware but not sure of the consequences, and 13% saying they had some awareness but don’t understand what it means.
The most significant consequence of regulation is well known, with 89% aware that a plan provider failing to achieve FCA authorisation will have to cease trading. But other consequences are less well known, including those who fail to secure authorisation must transfer existing books of plans (21% unaware of this) and the need for ongoing annual training to maintain competence (35% unaware of this).
Information and support
The survey reinforces how reliant funeral directors are on their plan providers for FCA support now and in the coming months. While plan provider satisfaction scores were generally high (scores varied between providers), guidance provided so far about funeral plan regulation was almost universally the lowest score.
Three-quarters say they will need some or a lot of support to ensure their policies and processes are in place to permit them to continue selling plans. A third saying they wanted expert compliance support.
The challenge for funeral plan companies is not just the volume of funeral directors who will need help, but also whether they have sufficient in-house FCA experience and expertise. Some firms will be better placed than others.
Questions for plan providers
Whether funeral directors use one plan provider or offer more than one plan, the following are key questions that will need to be answered.
1 Is your existing funeral plan provider intending to submit an application for FCA authorisation and when? (The window opens from 1 September to 1 November 2021).
2 What are their plans for transferring books of business in the event of leaving the market? This question is relevant as all providers are expected to have such a plan, whether they successfully gain authorisation or not.
3 What FCA compliance support are they going to provide you with before, during and after the deadlines – and what level of FCA compliance experience and expertise do they have?
4 Are they making any changes to their funeral plans to adhere to FCA regulation?
Opportunity to consider the options
Whilst this is an uncertain time for many, there are some funeral directors assessing the opportunity to either switch plan provider, to start selling plans for the first time or maybe even to become directly authorised to continue and/or set up their own plans.
Funeral Solution Expert has years of funeral plan experience as well as a specialist compliance partner that can support funeral directors. If you need any help or guidance, or want to understand more about the options available to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
This is a preview of a feature article.
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