SAIFCharter: Our regulatory journey
As our profession enters unchartered territory and faces unparalleled challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the commitment and professionalism of my colleagues from across the independent sector as we work to support our communities. Our association, meanwhile, continues to make progress for the future, with enhanced governance practices and the introduction of new members to our working groups, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives.
I’d also like to announce that Arran Brudenell has been co-opted on to our Executive, to fill the vacancy left by our dear friend Matthew Gallagher. Arran brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience and has a long-standing involvement with our working groups and the funeral sector more widely, including his role as a former SAIF President.
In progressing our association’s objectives, we continue to be more digitally focused. Our annual renewal process has been a big success this year, with over 90% of members (at the time of writing around a week ahead of the 31 March deadline) having completed their renewal declaration electronically in just a few seconds. We also provided members with an electronic certificate as part of the process this year, a feature which I hope has been of value to you.
Meanwhile, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there had been encouraging signs in the funeral plan marketplace and Independents working with Golden Charter had begun to secure a rise in plan sales. While this is not our current focus, it’s important we continue to increase market share as we ward off at-need competition, secure future business and increase connections in our local communities.
To continue on this trajectory, we must be ready to meet the new rules and Code of Practice from the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). The FPA requirements are now a reality, influencing how we do business and putting greater responsibility on funeral directors who sell plans to ensure customers are protected by having a new form of contract in place with their plan provider.
Our focus at the moment will be purely on the immediate demands of dealing with the coronavirus situation, but as we begin to consider our future under these strengthened rules, I would draw your attention to the latest Partnership Podcast with James Daley, Managing Director of Fairer Finance.
James was a consumer campaigner and financial journalist for 20 years before launching Fairer Finance in 2014 and is frequently interviewed on national television and radio. He is featured on this podcast discussing emerging customer preferences and the need for transparency.
When he was asked whether the FPA’s call for contractual agreements between funeral directors and plan providers was good for the customer, James said: “I think absolutely the customer needs to have some kind of certainty.
“The duty of care is a bit different when you’re selling a pre-paid plan… so I think you need to take great care to show them, with some level of certainty, what they’re going to get. That’s what contracts with funeral directors provide.”
James concluded: “People are always scared of regulation, but actually people have been there before, it genuinely is the right thing to do, and if you’re already doing the right thing there’s nothing too much to be scared of.”
I would encourage our members to listen to the podcast (goldencharter.buzzsprout.com), consider the next steps on your regulatory journey to show that we all put the customer first, and have the reassurance that your association and your company are with you all the way.
Why not subscribe on your phone so as not to miss future editions? You should be able to find the Partnership Podcast on any podcast app.Tags: Adam Ginder, Arran Brudenell, Chair, Chairman, coronavirus, COVID-19, Executive, Golden Charter, regulation, SAIFCharter