The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) has published a list of providers it intends to authorize when the pre-paid funeral plans industry comes under its regulation from 29 July.
There are 24 firms on the list, including the largest funeral plan providers. Together these firms hold approximately 87% of existing customer plans. The FCA is still assessing a small number of providers’ applications and will give an update on these as soon as possible.
Until regulation comes into force, all of the providers in this market remain unregulated, meaning that customers do not have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), and the FCA has limited powers. The FCA continues to work with the industry to find longer-term solutions for customers of providers who have not applied for authorization or have withdrawn.
From 29 July, all funeral plan providers will need to follow new FCA rules, which include a ban on cold calling and commission paid to intermediaries, and high standards on governance and financial resilience. Funeral plan holders will be able to refer complaints about a firm to the Ombudsman and will be covered by the FSCS if their provider goes out of business.
Emily Shepperd, Executive Director of Authorisations at the FCA, said: ‘As this sector approaches regulation, we want to provide holders of pre-paid funeral plans with some reassurance, which is why we have published a list of the firms we intend to authorize.
‘Our regulation will lead to higher standards in the market and boost consumer protection. We want to see an improvement in the way customers are treated, with better value products, better sales practices and better controls in place so consumers can be confident they will receive the funeral they expect.’
Notes to editors
List of firms the FCA intends to authorize:
Alternative Planning Company Limited
Avalon (Europe) Limited
Avalon Trustee Company Limited
Celebration Of Life Planning Ltd
Central England Co-Operative Limited
Co-Op Funeral Plans Limited
Crystal Cremations Ltd
Dignity Funerals Limited
Distinct Funeral Plans Limited
Ecclesiastical Planning Services Limited
F A Albin & Sons Limited
Family Funerals Trust Limited
Freeman Brothers (this includes Peter Christopher Freeman and Bridgid Mary Freeman)
Golden Charter Limited
Golden Leaves Limited
Haven Personal Funeral Plans Ltd
Independent Funeral Planning Services Ltd
Low-Cost Funeral Limited T/A Affordable Funerals (this includes Memoria Limited)
Peace Burials Limited
Plan With Grace Limited
Pure Cremation Planning Ltd
Southern Co-Operative Funerals Limited
The Independent Family Funeral Directors Ltd (this includes Fosters Family Funeral Directors)
William Alty & Sons Limited
Funeral plan providers will be officially approved for authorization on 29 July, depending on whether they have fulfilled certain obligations outlined during their application process.
For the small number of firms that are still being assessed, this does not necessarily mean the FCA has concerns or that they will not be authorised when regulation begins. Customers of firms not on this list should contact their provider in the first instance.
Consumer protection measures being introduced from 29 July 2022, include:
banning cold calling and setting new standards on advertising to ensure plans are sold fairly
banning commission payments to intermediaries, such as funeral directors, to ensure products represent fair value
carrying out full checks on the fitness to operate of those selling funeral plans, in order to improve governance standards and oversight
guaranteeing that funeral plans will always deliver a funeral unless the customer dies within 2 years of taking out the plan, in which case a full refund will be offered
guaranteeing that customers will receive a full refund if they cancel a plan within 30 days of purchase, or pay only a reasonable charge later on
From 29 July, consumers will also be able to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. If the issue happened before July 2022, they’ll still be able to refer it to the ombudsman service, as long as the firm was registered with the Funeral Planning Authority at the time the issue occurred.
Customers will have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) from the first day of regulation, so their money is protected if a firm fails.
Find out more information about the FCA.