The journey into regulation: part 2
This article, written and supplied by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has been split into two parts. You can read part one here. This section focuses on the importance of firms meeting these higher standards.
From 29 July 2022, funeral plan customers can refer their complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Customers can also complain regarding events that took place before 29 July 2022 if: their provider was a member of the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), at the time of the event being complained about, and the customer had not made the same complaint to the FPA.
Our rules raise standards in the sector, which will be boosted further when the Consumer Duty comes into effect this year.
It consists of a new Consumer Principle that requires firms to act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers; cross-cutting rules requiring firms to act in good faith, avoid causing foreseeable harm, and enable and support customers to pursue their financial objectives; and four outcomes rules requiring firms to ensure consumers receive communications they can understand, products and services that meet their needs and offer fair value, and the support they need.
The duty comes into effect from 31 July 2023, but firms have until 31 July 2024 to comply with the duty for closed products (those no longer sold, including existing plans sold before regulation).
Firms can find further information on the FCA website.
What we are seeing
We are pleased to see firms trying to work to our set standards and familiarising themselves with the regulatory framework. However, there are still areas that need improvement and firms still have further to go in raising these standards.
One area of continuing concern is ensuring that financial promotions are fair, clear and not misleading. We have seen some websites or other financial promotions which:
- Use the firm’s FCA authorisation/ regulatory status in a promotional manner
- Promote the availability of credit while not complying with all the requirements in our Consumer Credit Handbook
- Market services, such as money back guarantees, as unique, where this is inaccurate
- We also have indications that there may be unauthorised activity from firms which did not apply for FCA authorisation
As we navigate uncertain times, SAIF members have an important role to play in managing inflationary pressures to ensure that they are able to meet the fulfilment costs agreed with their funeral provider partners and adhere to our new standards in respect of new sales or introductions.
We provide a strong regulatory framework, and firms and ARs need to understand the importance of our requirements. They must follow our guidelines for greater consumer protection and better consumer outcomes. To maintain the stability of the funeral plans industry, all firms should be operating at a higher standard and must adhere to these standards.Tags: Daniel Hurl, FCA, Financial Conduct Authority, funeral plans, regulation