FPA enhances independence

words: Michael Fern

Golden Charter has welcomed major changes to the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), which increase its independence.

Several new independent board members have joined the FPA, with representatives from funeral plan providers stepping down. The changes are designed to enhance the regulator’s future role and independence.

Graeme McAusland, the FPA’s CEO, said: “These structural changes to the FPA have been made in recognition of the fact that the pre-paid funeral market continues to develop, and the FPA’s regulatory model needs to be aligned with that development.

“We envisage this new model will see increased activity from the FPA, a review of our Rules and Code of Practice, and a heightened focus to ensure that customers recognise the importance and value of using a provider who is registered with the FPA.”

The fundamental changes have led the FPA to become a community interest company, in recognition of its increasingly important role in driving up standards, and helping protect and support families to make the right choices. That is especially relevant this year as regulation of funeral planning has been discussed for the first time in parliament, and been a growing issue in the press.

Golden Charter CEO Ronnie Wayte said: “Golden Charter has met with politicians and decision makers to encourage more powers for the Funeral Planning Authority. No one is better placed to deal with this sensitive issue, and its recent change in structure makes it a more appropriate choice than ever.”

Most funeral plan providers register with the FPA, abiding by its stringent Rules and Code of Practice, and submitting to the scrutiny of its independent compliance committee. However, until now, the FPA’s board included two independent directors and four representatives from the profession.

These changes mean a totally independent board will determine the future strategy for the FPA.

The new board members come with a wealth of experience. Shaun Astley-Stone has spent decades in insurance and retail financial services at board and executive level for companies including Thomas Cook Financial/Travel Services, where he was Global Managing Director. Alison Beeston’s experience includes her role as a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Later Life Advisers. Finally, the current Compliance Committee Chair, Deborah Cullen, is also taking up a position on the FPA board.

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