The NFE and SAIF services

From a prosecco coffin bar to a Chinese hearse, this year’s National Funeral Exhibition offered the profession a fascinating array of products and services.

Visitors and exhibitors met up at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire over the weekend of Friday 9 to Sunday 11 June, with SAIF at the centre of the action. Its stand was kept busy as members and others came to meet with staff and chat.

Claire Day, Administration Manager for SAIF Business Centre, said: “It was terrific. We had quite a few membership and associate enquiries – it was a great experience.

“We were able to explain to people about our services, pointing out that we can provide a range of professional advice and private support as well as a raft of benefits for those who are members. On the Friday and Saturday in particular, it was non-stop. We also made more than £330 for our President’s charity, the British Heart Foundation.”

One of those present was Brian Hart, who was the founder insurance broker for SAIFInsure in 1994 and works with a great number of members, helping funeral directors to know and understand exactly what insurance they need to have.

He said that being on the stand was “a very useful and positive experience”, adding: “My partnership with SAIF is the glue of the whole relationship. I got extremely useful and positive feedback from people.

“Funeral directors know they must have insurance so I need to go out there and explain that in detail – what the products are, our service ethos and what is best for each member.

“It’s great to see new funeral directors in the profession and that is far more common than it was say 10 or 15 years ago. We are seeing young entrepreneurs coming into the sector as Independents, and they don’t necessarily have all the background knowledge and experience of these issues.

“In the day-to-day course of business, it just wouldn’t be possible to talk to so many people, and I really value that opportunity, whether that is in meeting up with existing customers or explaining the SAIFInsure products to new ones.”

Every business, whether a young start-up or a long-established family-run company, or even part of a corporate chain, needs access to money from time to time. Braemar Finance, based in Dundonald, Ayrshire, offers a specialist finance service for funeral directors throughout the UK.

“As a funeral director, you may need finance support to start up or buy into a business or need to invest in your business,” said Marketing Manager Linda Edgar.

“From time to time, you may need to refurbish your premises or purchase new mortuary equipment. You may need finance for the purchase of vehicles, or simply to fund your tax bill.”

She added: “Braemar Finance has attended the exhibition for the last few years to talk to suppliers and funeral directors about the asset finance we offer. You may not want to use your cash reserves or restrict your cash flow, so borrowing funds can make good business sense.

“We offer finance in different ways, providing flexibility to suit the client. We can finance the purchase of a fleet of limousines or hearses, fund new equipment or office IT solutions or even refinance existing assets to release equity. Alternatively, a client may go initially to a supplier and ask for their purchase to be funded directly from Braemar Finance. Whatever the financial need, we will be able to help.”

Linda continued: “Most funeral directors want to be able to offer additional services to their clients and the exhibition is a good open forum for us to meet people and to explain what we can offer. Increasingly popular is our client finance facility, Fast Track. This offers funeral directors’ families immediate access to funding allowing them to cover the costs associated with arranging a funeral.

“Fast Track is a quick, online application that can be completed on the premises or at home at a time that suits. A decision is received within seconds allowing the family to proceed with the necessary arrangements.

“The funeral business receives its payment within days of the funeral service. Families can then pay for the funeral over a period of time that suits them with monthly payments they can afford. Some may choose to pay off a loan once probate is completed.”

The exhibition also offers a forum for newer products. Jonathan Davies established Amersham-based MuchLoved soon after the sudden death of his young brother in 1995.

The organisation is a charitable trust run by a board of trustees. Its purpose is to provide a beautiful memorial website for a loved one that families can easily create and personalise and over which they maintain total control. There is no charge to users.

Jonathan explained: “At a time of loss and grief, families can find it very helpful to have a place where they can positively recognise that loss. Some may use it to disseminate information about the funeral while others may want to raise funds for a particular cause or charity dear to them.

“The exhibition is pretty invaluable because it gives us the opportunity to talk to so many people in a short space of time. That just isn’t possible in the normal business day. It really is critical for that contact with funeral directors.

“When we first began MuchLoved, the event for us was largely focused on building awareness of our charitable service. Now that we have partnerships with over 500 funeral branches, it’s more about updating our partners with details of recent and planned enhancements to the service.

“From a SAIF point of view, the subscription model we have devised in partnership takes pressure off the funeral directors and allows us to take over many of the bereavement aspects that follow on from the funeral itself.”

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