FCA: the clock is ticking

words: Mark Moran, Golden Charter
FCA steps

At the end of next month, funeral planning will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Golden Charter’s Mark Moran reflects on how far Golden Charter and its funeral director partners have come and discusses how the business is continuing to act in the best interests of customers.

At Golden Charter, we pride ourselves on putting customers at the heart of our business and supporting the interests of independent funeral directors. That’s why we welcome the enhanced protections that FCA regulation will bring to your families.

We firmly believe regulation will allow more customers to plan ahead with confidence in the future. The FCA regime will complement your existing practices, supplementing the great things we already do for our customers. It’s encouraged us to explore new ways of working to expand the benefits available to plan customers.

Some of these benefits were already available to Golden Charter customers: a well-funded, independent and transparent Trust; a clear and fair cancellation policy; and access to a recognised complaints process. The FCA brings new benefits too, such as regular funeral plan statements and plan representative letters.

Together with the help of independents, we designed the Pathway to Regulation to support our partners. Since its launch in November of last year, our straightforward three step process has helped guide funeral directors on their regulatory journey with us, one step at a time.

To complete step one, we’ve asked our partners to sign into our new and improved funeral director portal at mygoldencharter.co.uk and make the switch from paper to digital by completing funeral plan applications through our digital applications service.

We’re delighted with how far our partners have come in preparing for digital readiness by signing up to mygoldencharter.co.uk. It includes new features, making the site easier to use and more efficient, saving you time. Uptake has grown rapidly and feedback from funeral directors who have made the switch has been hugely positive.

Digital paperless applications

Our research1 has shown that your customers expect to see you using digital processes. Most believe that companies who use online systems are more efficient and that paper systems are now uncommon.

In response, we created our updated digital application service with the conversations our partners have with their families in mind. It gives you all the helpful prompts to support you to confidently deliver an FCA compliant plan sale with ease while keeping the conversations you have natural and flexible.

The updated, user-friendly platform will help you take customers through the specific information required by the FCA relevant to their individual customer journey. Becoming accustomed to digital applications now is the best way to prepare your business for regulation.

It’s important to note that paper applications will also have to change to meet the legislative requirements. There will be a requirement to complete additional paperwork and, unfortunately, the possibility of some duplication of data. Although we’re looking to streamline the offline journey, a digital application will be a more intuitive and a slicker process than we can achieve on paper.

For more information or to get started, email here or contact your business manager.

1. Digital adoption insight – Jim Law Research, 109 samples, January 2022.

Act now to complete step two with UKGI

Together with the help of our regulatory advisor, UKGI, we’ve been guiding funeral directors through the FCA requirements. Unlike some competitors, we don’t expect you to pay to have these checks carried out. UKGI specialises in taking non-regulated businesses through the checks the FCA requires. They’ll offer support with your application and help us make your journey as straightforward as possible.

Once an application has been submitted, UKGI will contact you to support you through the required checks. UKGI has a dedicated team who provide consistent support and assistance to funeral directors throughout the process. You can expect important emails from them to come from the address goldencharter@ukgigroup.com

In order to continue offering plans to your families beyond 29 July without interruption, it’s imperative that you engage with UKGI soon after receiving any contact from them. This will help ensure your application stays on track to be approved in line with FCA timescales.

Still to apply?

We’re pleased that the vast majority of our partners have submitted their application. If you submitted your application before the beginning of this month, your business should be able to continue offering plans to your families from 29 July.

If you have not applied yet, I’d like to emphasise that we’re still welcoming appointed representative and introducer appointed representative applications. We’ll work to get last minute applications prepared for operating in a regulated market, though it’s unlikely they’ll become fully approved in time for 29 July.

If you’re in that category, reach out to your Golden Charter business manager and they’ll help you get started. If you don’t know who your business manager is or don’t already work with us, get in touch with us at partners@goldencharter.co.uk.

Once you’ve submitted your application and completed the due diligence checks with UKGI, you’ve made it to the final step of the Pathway to Regulation: partner. In step three, you’ll complete your preparations with us to offer Golden Charter funeral plans to your families in an FCA regulated environment. This is when you’ll sign your agreement, complete your training and we’ll submit your application to the FCA for their approval.

In advance of 29 July, the FCA expects that all plan sellers and approved persons will have completed training that familiarises them with a regulated sales process. If you’ve applied to become an appointed representative with us, we’ll soon be inviting you to take part in our pre-29 July training required by the FCA. Each plan seller and approved person will be invited to register for a training session using their own unique email address.

We know the expertise and the personalised care you provide is invaluable and the FCA also values

the relationships you have with your families. The training the FCA requires has been built to give additional protections to customers and enhance your existing good practices.

We’re providing our appointed representative partners with an accessible training programme to complement what you do already. Training will take just a few hours and be delivered through online webinars. It’s comprised of a combination of live and interactive forums with some pre-recorded videos, all led by our experts. The training sessions will offer ample opportunities to ask questions about arranging plans in a regulated environment and hear feedback from other Independents. Our programme is focused on customers, while giving you and your plan sellers the knowledge to confidently sell funeral plans in a regulated environment.

Completing the training is a mandatory requirement of the FCA. Only those who have completed the training will be able to sell funeral plans from 29 July.

Once we’ve confirmed your completion of the training and understanding of the key outcomes, you’ll be ready to sell plans after 29 July. You’ll have access to expert guidance to support your business. We’ll provide you with specialist

tools and day-to-day support as we acclimatise to the FCA’s regulation.

This includes guidance helping you meet the FCA’s annual requirement for 15 hours of Continuing Professional Development.

If you’ve applied to become an introducer appointed representative, there is no requirement for you to complete the training. Instead, we’ll provide you with all of the information you need to help make the transition to us managing plan sales for you as seamless as possible.

Mark Moran
Director of Sales,
Golden Charter

We’re here to help

On behalf of all of us at Golden Charter, thank you all of our partners for your continued support. We’ll continue to guide you throughout the Pathway to Regulation and beyond.

Please get in touch with your business manager, should you have any questions. To find out more about our partnership, send us an email.

If you are set to be an an approved person or funeral plan seller for a Golden Charter appointed representative business, you can sign up for a training webinar here.

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